After a teacher took one look at a boy’s art project, she called it racist and demanded that he change it or else. He had an unexpected response for her and his school. Some people have since applauded the boy. After hearing what happened, you tell us who was right.
William Norman was just a freshman at Nandua High School in Onley, Virginia, when he found himself making headlines over his art. It was the day before his art project was due, and the teacher wanted William to remake it because she felt his Confederate-themed concept crossed the line since the piece was supposed to be displayed at the school. Simply put, William’s teacher said he should redo his art project since it promoted racism.
William had created a ceramic sculpture of a hand and painted the words “Robert E. Lee, history not hate” on it, a design the teacher had originally approved when he initially presented the plan for the project to her. Unfortunately, when she saw the art display coming to fruition days later, featuring a Confederate flag painted just below the knuckles of the ceramic hand, she changed her mind about the project just as William was nearing its completion.
William wasn’t pleased, but if he had hoped to get any help from the principal, he was greatly mistaken. The school’s principal also told William that he would have to redo the project, saying his sculpturing “promoted racism” all because it bore the Confederate flag. William balked, but neither the teacher or principal would budge.
Instead, they doubled down on their directive, telling him to change it or receive an F for the project. William had what some are calling the perfect response. Rather than cave to their demands, he stood his ground, determined to finish his project the way he had envisioned it.
“I’m going to stand for what I think is right,” William said, explaining that he had no intentions of changing or repainting the Confederate-themed art project even though he was facing backlash over it. “I was going to do what I planned,” he furthered.
“They can’t approve it and then say you gotta change it after I worked so long on it. It’s not fair to me, or anybody,” William added. But, there was another reason he wanted to complete the project his way: It meant something exceptionally special to him.
William’s family was related to General Robert E. Lee, which his parents gladly explained as they gave their son their full support and told the school his artwork was about heritage and deep roots in the American South — and not racism.
“Robert E. Lee was a third cousin,” William’s father, David Norman, explained. “We were on the second ship from England that came to America, so my bloodline goes way back when America first started,” David furthered. “I’m not a racist, the furthest thing from it. My son’s not a racist.” With his family involved in the debacle, things really began to take off.
After several meetings between the family and the school, as well as multiple news reports addressing the issue, the school seemed to have a change of heart. Although the Accomack County Failing Public Schools didn’t provide a comment, the district apparently felt the pressure after William Norman and his work of art received widespread media attention, and the school allowed William to present and display his project.
William couldn’t have been happier with the decision to allow him to display the Confederate flag on his artwork at school. “Everybody should be able to practice or display their heritage in a way they’d like,” William said. “People that may be racist might fly it, but to me, it has nothing to do with racism. It’s my heritage, my blood, where I came from.”
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Author: Christy Pepple
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