TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Some parents at an Ohio middle school have said they were shocked to hear an eighth-grade choir sing about picking cotton just days after other students in the district took photos and videos of themselves with a Confederate flag outside the high school.
The Blade reports “Cotton Needs Pickin'” was performed Thursday during a fall concert at Springfield Middle School in Holland, Lucas County. Parent Nicole Maulsby, who is Cuban, posted a video of the performance on Facebook. Her husband, Alonzo, who is black, left the auditorium during the song, she said.
Maulsby and online commenters contend that a song about workers happily picking cotton is a racist reference to black slaves toiling in the fields of the South.
Here is the original post (which was recorded and posted sideways by Maulsby):
Springfield Schools Superintendent Matt Geha said the song came from a book of American folk music, adding that he hadn’t received any calls on Friday but was aware of the complaints circulating on social media.
“I know that timing can sound bad, but it’s a historical component for what the choir department had to use for their curriculum,” Geha said.
The short song includes the lyrics: “Cotton needs pickin’ so bad, we’re going’na pick all over this field.”
Maulsby told The Blade the performance came “a little bit too close” to when a racial slur was “being used directly across the street in the parking lot.”
Earlier this month, about a dozen male students affiliated with a Christian youth organization called Young Life recorded themselves with a Confederate flag during what has been described as a rally. Some images of the rally posted on Snapchat reportedly included racial slurs.