Sean King, a Colorado Springs second-grader at Meridian Ranch Elementary school, found himself in hot water last when he was pulled out of class for dressing like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. while also wearing black face paint for a school project. Now, Sean and his family want an apology from the school for the way the staff handled the situation.
Sean, 8-years-old, told KRDO that he feels school officials were "mean" to him and his family, citing that they made his mother cry. Sean explained that he is confused why other children who also wore face paint honoring other historical people were not punished like he was. "They were really negative to me," Sean said about school staff to KRDO.
School officials are now considering offering special classes about racial stereotypes to help teach kids and parents more about racial sensitivity.
Sean says he mean no harm by wearing the make-up, according to 9news, but Stephanie Meredith, a spokesperson for the school's principal, said that it wasn't just the school's staff that was offended by Sean's face paint, it was other students as well. So the principal took action, 7News reports.
Last week, KRDO first reported that Sean dressed up as MLK, Jr. for a school project. The boy's mother told KRDO that it was "wax museum day" for the second grade class and that each child was assigned a historical figure to dress up as.
Sean showed up for school on Wednesday doing a Martin Luther King impersonation, wearing a black suit, tie, mustache and black face paint -- his parents were with him, as were all the students' parents, to watch the day's presentation. But before things could get started, Erica Mason, the school's principal, told the second-grader that he needed to wash his face, according to KWGN, leaving Sean confused.
"They thought it was inappropriate and it will be disrespectful to black people and I say it's not," young Sean said to KRDO. "I like black people. It's just a costume and I don't want to insult anybody."
The NAACP has come out in support of Meridian Elementary Principal Mason and in support of Sean's desire to portray Dr. King, but has said that he just shouldn't have worn the black face paint.
But some people thought that school went too far with the second-grader. Since the news broke, the Meridian Ranch Elementary's Facebook page has been flooded with reactions, mostly in support of Sean. Joe Terrell wrote:
Kudos to Sean King. What a great kid and he is handling this so well. Very disappointed in the school and also the NAACP. You both have set the nation back a few years by your actions. I think MLK would be very proud of Sean. I know I am.
Another reaction from Tim Allenmong summed up the essence of many of the reactions on Meridan Elementary's Facebook page:
What a shameful decision your principal made regarding Sean King trying to honor Martin Luther King on his Wax Museum day. A white person can't dress up as a great, American Black figure? Was the same decision made of any African American students who portrayed great White Americans? The principal of this school fueled and created a racial divide by not letting young Mr. King honor the late Martin Luther King. Racism will continue as long as uneducated decisions like this one are made.
Click through to KRDO for a full slideshow of the second-grader dressed as MLK, Jr. on "wax museum" day.