An “Inappropriate” Black History Month Display Caused Controversy At A Charlotte High School

The “white” and “colored” door entrances were created for a lesson on segregation.

WCNC / YouTube

Teachers at West Charlotte High School in North Carolina faced backlash after decorating their classroom doors and doors in the school halls with a segregation theme as part of their Black History Month celebration.

For example, one of the doors represented Motown classics with different hit songs from the era, and another had the message "From Chains to Change" with an image of two hands in chains, according to a video from WCNC.

However, it was two specific classroom doors that caused the most controversy for depicting two separate “white” and “colored” entrances. The decoration was a re-creation of a Sears store in the United States in the 1930s.

While some found some of these decorations to be offensive, and possibly triggering for Black students, others thought the doors could help depict how terrible things truly were during segregation.

After the school’s administration heard blowback from students and parents, the display was taken down.

Laquinta Caldwell, daughter of the teacher who had the display, spoke to WCNC Charlotte and tried to explain that her mom’s idea wasn’t meant to offend and was was being taken out of context.

“Her only thing was making sure that the kids knew, or could see, a visual of how things were back in the day,” Caldwell said.

“The purpose of the door was to show that Sears, which is a department store, was one of the first stores that allowed Blacks to shop with white people,” Caldwell explained.

Black business owner, Cheryse Terry, also spoke to WCNC, and backed up Caldwell, while seeing both sides.

“What I see is somebody who has done a great job in re-creating and illustrating what the times have been for Black people,” Terry said.

“If it is out of context alone, then it may raise some questions or controversy,” Terry said. “But looking at it in its totality, I don’t think you can tell a Black story in America and not talk about segregation.”

“It’s a re-creation of the people who have impacted our time and tell our story,” Terry said as she looked at the images of the historic figures. “I’m proud of the work that these Black people have done to move the culture forward.”

The District sent WCNC Charlotte the following statement:

“The school district is required to provide social studies and history lessons to all our students in an age-appropriate manner. Teachers at West Charlotte High School decorated doors that displayed inappropriate content. The activity is not aligned with state standards or with the CMS curriculum and approved lesson plans.”

So, what are people really uncomfortable with? The harsh truths of America’s history? How are students supposed to learn the racist beginnings (and present!) of our nation without lessons like this?

Of course, a lesson like this could definitely be triggering for Black students, which some noted once the image of the doors circulated on social media.

“Show it another way…..Very poor taste!” one user wrote.

“I get her intent but a lil too powerful for school!!!! Controversial!” another wrote.

Despite the removal of the decor, Caldwell said she was proud of her mom.

“Overall, I think that her mission was accomplished I think that she was able to get through a lot of people whether it was negative or positive,” said Caldwell.