Ohio school district apologizes over ‘trail of tears’ basketball game sign

Victor Skinner, EAGNews.org

BROOKFIELD, Ohio – An Ohio school district issued an apology and is now requiring students to gain approval for game day signs after a banner crafted by cheerleaders caused outrage at a basketball game last week.

As the Brookfield High School Warriors prepared to tip off against the Girard Indians last Tuesday, the Brookfield cheerleaders trotted out a sign that read: “Get ready to leave in a trail of tears,” WKBN reports.

Brookfield superintendent Velina Taylor told the news site that a girl on the squad simply plucked the phrase from a sign she found on the internet, and was oblivious to the forced migration of Native Americans that left thousands dead.

The student “saw (a sign online) she really liked that looked really good and included the offensive phrase, and she just copied that down and they made the sign,” Taylor said, adding that the student “never clicked on the story.”

The image came from another Ohio school that came under fire for the offensive sign this school year, she said.

“One more click, and we wouldn’t be talking right now,” Taylor said. “One of our big stressing points here is empathy, understanding, respect for all, and clearly, that’s not the message that was sent with that sign.”

tears_small Ohio school district apologizes over ‘trail of tears’ basketball game sign Students

Taylor said the incident convinced Brookfield High School officials to require approval for future game day signs. School officials are also now working to educate students about the trail of tears – the forced government relocation of thousands of Native Americans from the southeast to areas west of the Mississippi River between 1830 and 1850.

“We’re trying to address the harm that we may have caused and trying to ensure that we won’t do something like that again,” Taylor said.

David Cappuzzello, superintendent for Girard schools, told WKBN that district officials accepted Brookfield’s apology and is using the incident as a “learning experience.”

“We hold no ill will towards her,” Cappuzzello said of the student. “Brookfield students are great people, classy people, and let’s just put this behind us as a learning experience.”

Several folks who commented online seemed to believe that the blame for the offensive sign ultimately rests with Brookfield teachers and staff, who obviously had not adequately explained the significance of the trail of tears in American history.

“My granddaughter is in 10th grade and has never really studied history,” Mo Ellis Ramrouth posted in the WKBN comments. “In fairness to the cheerleaders, the fault lies with the school system. Shame on us for allowing this to continue.”

“That is why American History needs to be taught in schools today, instead of playing with electronic gadgets,” Ray Tomlinson added. “I studied about this shameful act when I was in about fifth grade.”