Kindergarten teacher uses ‘line leader’ metaphor to educate students about civil rights

TikTok users are praising a kindergarten teacher for her lessons on the Civil Rights Movement. 

Simone Slater teaches in Dallas, Texas and has over 369,000 followers on TikTok. This Black History Month, the teacher was determined to inform her young students about segregation and Black cultural figures like activist Rosa Parks. 

@lovemsslater

Teaching little humans about the mistreatment of others is hard because they’re so kind and pure. BUT line leader is universal 😂 #blackhistorymonth

♬ original sound – Simone 💘

“Teaching little humans about the mistreatment of others is hard because they’re so kind and pure. But line leader is universal,” Slater said

The teacher used a relatable mental exercise to help her students understand what segregation was like for Black people. 

“If you could be the line leader for the whole day, how would you feel?” Slater asked a student who responded, “happy.” 

“Now imagine if Ms. Slater said, ‘I need you to go to the back of the line,’ and I had no reason why,” the teacher explained. “How would that make you feel.” 

The students replied in near-unison, “sad.” 

“That’s what happened to Rosa Parks. She was on the bus, she was in her seat, and someone said, ‘Hey, you need to get up, and you need to give your seat to a white person,'” Slater told them. “And she said, ‘Well, that’s not fair. I was here first.’ And she stood up for herself. She didn’t get up.” 

It’s true that kindergartners may not understand the more nuanced historical details like the fact that Parks wasn’t just a tired woman on a bus who made a spur-of-the-moment decision, as many believe. She was a longtime activist and had planned the act of civil disobedience.

Moreover, Parks wasn’t the first Black woman to refuse to move on a bus. That was 15-year-old Claudette Colvin in March 1955. Nine months before Parks, in the same city of Montgomery, Alabama, the teen refused to move to the back of the bus and even challenged the segregation law in court. Activists didn’t find Colvin, a teenager, to be an acceptable symbol of the Civil Rights Movement and opted to elevate Parks’ story instead. 

While 5 and 6-year-olds may not be ready to hear the intricacies of Parks’ place in history, Slater shows they can understand that inequality is unfair and wrong. 

“Black History Month with kindergarten. Definitely challenging but not impossible,” Slater said

People thought Slater’s lesson was great. 

“Someone give this woman a raise,” a person commented.

“I would’ve loved you as a kid,” someone said

“This is a perfect way to show them,” another wrote

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