A teacher in Virginia may be in hot water after telling a student that their approved art project had to be redone or he would fail. This announcement was made the day before the project was due and after the student had worked long and hard on the clay painted sculpture. The Nandua High School freshman refused to start over and redo the entire project the day before it was due and took the issue up with the administration who eventually let the ceramic sculpture be displayed with the other student’s projects and rescinded the teachers directive that the student be failed for not re-creating an entire project from scrap the day before it was due.
The issue arose when the teacher, who had preapproved the design of the project originally, decided at the last minute that she thought the piece promoted racism and did not want it on display for the whole school to see. This is because the sculpture presented a confederate flag with the title of “Robert E Lee, history not hate” on its base. The student professes that this design has absolutely nothing to do with racism and that he is not at all racist. When the student’s father got involved, he informed those at the school, including the teacher herself, that the family was in fact related to the confederate general and were actually cousins of the historical figure. This meant that the student presentation truly was a nod to their history and had absolutely zero to do with anything resembling hatred or racism. They protested that it was wrong to undo or erase the history of their family and this country and that they were proud of descending from the great historical leader, no matter the current public opinion of such matters.
The school eventually rescinded the teacher’s demands that the student be failed for not reproducing a more acceptable project and that he had every right to promote his freedom of expression through a high school art assignment. The student, William Norman, proclaimed about the whole affair that “I’m going to stand for what I think is right. I was going to do what I planned. They can’t approve it and then say you gotta change it after I worked so long on it.
It’s not fair to me, or anybody.” The recent upheaval in the country may have been a factor in the teacher’s decision to try and fail Mr. Norman over his heritage-based ceramic sculpture and is something the whole country is divided about at the current time. Whether or not sculptures or statues of confederate leaders have a place to stand in public areas or if they should all be removed and if we should try to whitewash and erase our historical beginning as a country to appease those who are uncomfortable with America’s pathway towards freedom for all, even though we may have not always lived up to the standards of today’s world it may not be the smartest path to try and erase our history rather than learn all that we can from it in order to create a better America for all future generations to enjoy an even more free world than the one we live in. Which is probably something everyone can agree is a great goal for the future.