Imhotep academy students re-enact famous poses of Black Leaders that you find throughout Black History Month. (Video and edit by Armani Martin/AJC)

Mississippi teacher’s Black History Month display on slavery goes viral

A Mississippi middle school math teacher has drawn national attention for her uplifting lesson about slavery. 

Jovan Bradshaw, a sixth-grade math teacher, has become the subject of national news coverage after a Facebook post of her Black History Month message to students at Magnolia Middle School has gone viral. 

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Bradshaw said she was inspired to step outside of her typical lessons on long division when a student shared what she considered to be a skewed view on slavery, she told WLBT News in Jackson, Mississippi. One of her students at the school in Moss Point relayed to her that ‘slaves didn’t do much,’ since many weren’t able to read and write.

“He kinda caught me off guard,' Bradshaw told the television station. “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 eventually created a classroom door display with a message she attributes to poet and author Nadine Drayton-Keen. The message, which is posted across yellow paper, reads: “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 math teacher’s message was welcomed with votes of approval, shares, likes and numerous black empowerment GIFs once she posted it on Facebook on Thursday. The post has been shared more than 105,000 and liked more than 16,000 times. 

Bradshaw didn’t stop with the bright message at the entrance of her classroom. In addition to posting the image, she attached the link to a GoFundMe campaign titled “Stay Dropping Knowledge.” Through the campaign, she hopes to raise more than 35,000 to send her students to the Black History Museum in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, purchase band instruments for the school and create a firm that would assist schools in curriculum for students. She’s raised $50 so far.

“I am a 2nd generation educator and kids are my passion. Being in a Title 1 school is hard because resources are limited,” Bradshaw said in a message on her GoFundMe page. “I want to use this money to further educate my personal students as well as educators around the U.S. Our students could be so much more if they just felt good about themselves and where they come from.”

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