Photo: Getty
  /  08.16.2022

A Black mother is suing both Los Angeles Unified and the Board of Education after she says her daughter suffered from emotional distress after a cotton picking school exercise, NBC 4 reports.

Rashunda Pitts believes her daughter, identified as S.W. in the claim, was discriminated against after a cotton picking field was set up at the school she was attending in the Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles in 2017. “She (S.W.) has uncontrollable anxiety attacks and has experienced bouts of depression when she thinks about the cotton picking project,” read the suit.

Pitts says that initially, her daughter returned home from the Lauren Span School in Hollywood excited to recount the details of her day. After the activity in question, the suit reveals that S.W.’s mood became sullen. After noticing a cotton field on the Hollywood school campus while dropping her daughter off at school one day, Pitts was confused as to why something like this was even on school property in the first place.

According to the court documents, “Bewildered as to why a cotton field would be growing in Hollywood, let alone on public school property, she (Pitts) called the front office to speak with the principal about the cotton field.”

Eventually, after speaking to an assistant principal at the school, Pitts revealed in the lawsuit that she was “enthusiastically informed that the children in S.W.’s class were reading the autobiography of Frederick Douglass and that picking cotton was one of the experiences that he wrote about in the autobiography.”

Furthermore, it was revealed that a cotton field was planted to provide students with a real-life experience of what it was like to be a slave. “Completely incensed with the idea that the school would have her daughter and other children pick cotton as a school exercise to identify with the real-life experience of African-American slaves, Ms. Pitts expressed her disappointment and hurt in regards to the culturally insensitive and incompetent project,” the suit continued.

At this time, the amount that Pitts is seeking from the lawsuit has yet to be revealed.



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