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Some parents upset Black History Month display removed at Bountiful school

Posted at 9:08 PM, Feb 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-24 07:31:12-05

BOUNTIFUL, Utah — A parent of students at Hannah Holbrook Elementary is voicing his concerns after a hallway display honoring Black History Month was removed.

“It’s been encouraging to see more Black history taught,” said Steve Swensen, the parent of adoptive children who are Black. “Our boys have come home so excited about the historical figures they have been studying about.”

The display depicted each letter of the alphabet, with a word and definition.

For example, the letter “F” showed the word “Freedom” and included this definition: “The power to or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance.”

The display gained attention on social media when Natalie Cline, a member of the Utah State Board of Education, posted photos of it on Facebook.

READ: Utah School Board member angered over Bountiful school display

Along with the photos she wrote, “This display is HIGHLY political and pushes an extremely controversial ideology.”

Cline, who does not represent the district in which Holbrook Elementary is located, encouraged people to call and write the school.

Despite several attempts to reach Cline, she did not return messages asking for a comment.

“It’s really sad to me. I don’t understand why some people feel so threatened by it,” Swensen said. “I was disappointed, frustrated.”

The frustration came when the school took down the display.

The Davis School District sent FOX 13 this statement:

  • “The ABCs were displayed as one of many efforts in the school to recognize Black History Month. It was an idea generated by the PTA and supported by the principal. After a concern was raised, the PTA, made up of parents whose students attend the school, consulted with the principal and the decision was made to remove the display.
  • "That being said, Black History Month continues, as do efforts to share the accomplishments of Black Americans who left their mark on our society.”

Several parents who claim to have students at the school contacted FOX 13 to say they asked the school to remove the display.

They declined to identify themselves or interview on camera. In a text message, one said, "She [Cline] represented us well by informing us. We exercised our rights by contacting the principal and he respected our position and the law and had the display taken down."

Swensen wishes this could have opened up a conversation. He feels the outrage and rush to remove the sign doesn’t do the children who attend school here any good at all.

“My two boys, a 4th and 5th grader, have experienced racial insensitivity,” Swensen said. “I’m not saying it’s bias or racism, but if kids aren’t taught, they won’t know. They won’t understand and this is how they begin to understand.”

This is the complete list of the words and definitions.

  • A – Activist: A person who works to bring about social or political change.
  • B – Bias: Prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group with another unusually in a way considered to be unfair.
  • C – Change: Make or become different
  • D – Diverse: Showing a great deal of variety
  • E – Equality: The quality of being fair
  • F – Freedom: The power to or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance
  • G – Grassroots: A movement that originates from the people
  • H – Human Rights: A right that every person is entitled to
  • I – Intent v. Impact: “What I mean” vs. “how the message is received”
  • J – Justice: The quality of being fair and reasonable
  • K – Kindred: Similar or related
  • L – Legislation: The action of process of making laws.
  • M – Mutually Beneficial: Good for all involved
  • N – Nuance: Very small differences in appearance, meaning, sound
  • O – Organizing: Planning an event or activity for united action
  • P – Protest: A public expression of disapproval towards an idea or course of action
  • Q – Question: To ask in order to get more information; a problem for discussion
  • R – Respect: To hold in esteem or honor
  • S – Social Justice: The objective of creating a fair and equal society where everyone matters, their rights are recognized and protected and decisions are made in ways that are fair and honest
  • T – Transform: To change in character or condition
  • U – Uplift: To elevate someone morally or spiritually
  • V – Vote: The act of showing your choice in an election or meeting
  • W – Woke: Alert to injustice in society, especially racism
  • X – Xenophobia: Dislike of, or prejudice against people from other countries
  • Y – Yes we can: A phrase used to appeal to the disenfranchised and inspire change
  • Z – Zero tolerance: An uncompromising policy that has not been shown to improve climate or safety