Teacher's powerful slavery lesson for Black History Month goes viral

Elise Solé
A sixth-grade math teacher in Mississippi decorated her classroom door to educate kids about slavery during Black History Month. (Photo: Jovan Bradshaw via Facebook)

A sixth-grade teacher took Black History Month to the next level with a door-size letter to her students about slavery.

Math teacher Jovan Bradshaw of Magnolia Middle School in Moss Point, Miss., covered her classroom door with bright yellow paper and a message (which she attributed to poet and author the Rev. Nadine Drayton-Keen): “Dear Students, they didn’t steal slaves. They stole scientists, doctors, architects, teachers, entrepreneurs, astronomers, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, etc., and made them slaves. Sincerely, your ancestors.”

The teacher’s Facebook photo went viral, with 14K reactions and 103K shares. “Stay dropping knowledge,” she wrote. 


“It all started with this little boy in my class,” Bradshaw told WLOX. “We were talking and he said, ‘Slaves didn’t do much because they couldn’t read or write.’ He kinda caught me off guard. I said, ‘Baby, if I snatched you up and dropped you off in China or Germany or Africa even, you wouldn’t be able to read and write their language either. Does that make you useless or any less educated?’”

Bradshaw, 40, also told WLOX, “So many of our African-American students don’t know where they come from. All they are taught is slavery, the servitude side only. They need to know that we were great long before slavery. We built a country with our blood, sweat and tears, and the strength of our ancestors is why they can be great today. You have to see people who look like you contributing to society, and the African contribution is left out at school. I teach math, but I’m woke and I plan on waking up every student that comes through the halls of MMS.”

The teacher of nine years tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she planned to cover her door with a picture of a black woman with natural hair, until the conversation with her student. “His comment broke my heart, and I had to do something more,” she says. “It was like a lightbulb going off for him. He understood.”

As a math teacher, Bradshaw tries to make history relevant. “I sneak it in whenever I can,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I teach the whole person, not just one subject.”

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