Marshalltown Hopes to Turn Blackface Photo into Educational Opportunity

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MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa -- Educators in Marshalltown say they have a long way to go in helping students understand what's acceptable, after a photo surfaced showing five teenage girls who appeared to be dressed in blackface for Halloween.

The Marshalltown Community School District calls the photo, which has been making the rounds on social media, very disturbing and offensive. "Four of the five students that were in the picture were from the Marshalltown School District, from two different buildings," said Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte. Schutte grew up in Marshalltown and says the community has come a long way.

"I believe, you know, having grown up as a youth in Marshalltown and now having come back, that Marshalltown’s come a long, long ways, in terms of embracing and building upon the strength that diversity brings," said Schutte. "But, this just reminds us, you know, no matter how far we’ve come, we still have a ways to go; in terms of helping our youth understand cultural awareness and racial awareness, appreciation and sensitivity."

Dr. Schutte is hoping this situation can be a teachable moment.

"Hopefully we can build upon this to make it, turn it from a real big negative into an educational opportunity to further prepare our students to be able to be good citizens and to be able to function in a very diverse, not only community, but world today."

The Times-Republican is reporting "some of the girls pictured, as well as their family members, came forward to apologize and provide their side of the story Thursday afternoon."

The paper is reporting the girls said in a joint statement "we`re sorry,"...with one adding... "we didn`t know what blackface was."

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