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Controversial Black History Month Lunch Menu Prompts Concord School To Apologize

CONCORD (CBS SF) -- Officials at an East Bay private school are apologizing after a controversial lunch menu option to celebrate Black History Month.

Students at Carondelet High School for Girls in Concord wanted to come up with ways to observe the occasion during a lunchtime celebration Friday. But when the school announced a menu of fried chicken, cornbread and watermelon, other students and parents became offended.

"When I first saw that, I was confused. I didn't understand why our school would do this because we're totally against that kind of stuff," said Gianna Scoma, a junior at Carondelet.

School officials held an assembly on campus Wednesday to discuss the issue and also sent a letter apologizing to parents.

Principal Nancy Libby wrote that the items were taken off the menu and that the school doesn't perpetuate racial stereotypes.

Libby also wrote the school will hold a diversity assembly for students and faculty.

"Cultural insensitivity of any kind is obviously inconsistent with the mission of Carondelet High School," said school president Sister Ann Bernard.

Educators at Acts Christian Academy, a private school in East Oakland, told KPIX 5 that Carondelet could have done so much more to teach and celebrate Black History Month.

"Quite offensive because they put everything that we've accomplished into a menu," said Dr. Doris Limbrick, principal of Acts Christian Academy.

Andrew Jackson, a teacher at the academy said, "Regardless of the accomplishments we have achieved, or what we have done, we're still viewed under the same lens."

The educators said Carondelet could have invited speakers or hold a field trip to learn about black history.

While many students felt bad about the announcement, some said our society is too sensitive.

"I understand like how it would offend people. But we're just doing something to celebrate, not bring it down," said Morgan Hartford, a junior at the school.

Gabby Simones, a junior at the school who is Latina said, "On Cinco de Mayo we would have probably had enchiladas, rice and beans."

Robert Jackson, a teacher at Acts Christian Academy said offering fried chicken, cornbread and watermelon is different, because the food goes back to the history of slavery. "We talk about soul food because it was actually food we used that was left over from the master's table and we used it to restore our soul and restore our hope."

Elizabeth Williams of the Contra Costa County Equal Opportunity Commission and a member of the NAACP had a different view.  "What is the big deal?" Williams said. "Historically and even now, we like our chicken and I'm not going to stop eating my fried chicken, nor my cornbread, nor my watermelon."

"Let's move on. Let's be more progressive. Let's not be so insulted about something so minute," Williams said.

TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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