School District Apologizes for MLK Lunch Menu

Filed under: In The News

The school district called the menu, which included fried chicken and collard greens, "highly insensitive." Credit: Getty Images

The school lunch menu for Jan. 15 read "In Honor of M.L. King." But the food featured that day -- "Southern Style" chicken, collard greens, sweet potatoes and peach crisp -- has officials from Denver Public Schools apologizing.

"The plan to serve a Southern-style meal in recognition of Martin Luther King Day was well intentioned but highly insensitive in light of certain hurtful cultural stereotypes still harbored in parts of our society," a message on the disctrict's Web site states.

"Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the greatest leaders and civil rights heroes in our country's history," the DPS site continues. "We are working with all of our schools to ensure that our students appreciate the enduring legacy of Dr. King's work and life and the extraordinary importance of his message in our community today."
The Denver Post reports that Jennifer Holladay, the mother of a Denver kindergartner and past director of Teaching Tolerance, says she left messages with DPS food service to complain about the menu when she first saw it in December, but never heard back.

"It's a teachable moment for DPS and for people across the country," Holladay, who is white, and whose husband is black, tells the Post. "These caricatures can slip in without any malicious intent."

School board president Nate Easley Jr. tells the newspaper he's more concerned with other issues facing students.

"I don't think people woke up in the morning and said how can we offend people," he tells the Post. "As a black man, the things that offend me more is how we are doing with kids in the district. ... If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was alive today, I think he would be more concerned about our outcomes of our students than what they are eating to honor him."

Denver Post columnist Bill Johnson writes that the menu choice is "a horribly ignorant stereotype."

"Holladay marvels that no one, from the author to the person who typed it, to the teacher who gave the menu to her daughter, said anything," Johnson writes. "... We need to do better by our children, [Holladay] said. The school district should be held to account, should look on this as a teachable moment for its classrooms."

"And what could be a better time, she said, to teach about racial sterotyping? 'Now that,' Holladay said, 'would be honoring Dr. King.' "

Do you think the Denver Public School District should be held accountable for the menu? Or is this a case of political correctness gone too far?

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