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“O” Magazine (December 2000)

In April, 1968, Elliott was teaching her third graders about the culture of Native Americans. She was at home one evening making her usual preparations, constucting a teepee out of sheets for the children to decorate, when she heard that Martin Luther King, Jr. had been shot. Elliott was devastated. She realized that she had to do something to make her students understand what racism was. She remembered a Sioux prayer: O Great Spirit, keep me from judging a man until I have walked a mile in his moccasins.”

The next day, one of her students asked, “Why did they shoot that King?” When she asked her class what they knew about black people, the children said things like “different” and “stupid”. Then she introduced a radical exercise in which she got the children to discriminate against one another based on eye color. Those with brown eyes had superior intelligence, she said, and were no longer to play with the blues. Within minutes, the browns began to victimize their classmates.

Cathy Medwick

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