A teacher in Detroit walked into school wearing a “Columbus was a murderer” sweatshirt. Emma Howard-Bolton, a fifth grade teacher at Clippert Multicultural Honors Academy, soon found herself in trouble because of the outfit.
The message on the sweatshirt sparked controversy, and Ms. Howard-Bolton quickly took a stance to defend her choice to wear it. She accepted an interview with WXYZ, a local TV station.
When asked about her motivation to wear the shirt, she stated, “I wanted to wear this shirt to spark discussion.”
She wore the sweatshirt for the interview with WXYZ TV, and explained that she chose the shirt as an educative tool. She stated that she was looking to inspire a debate among her students since it was Columbus Day.
However, the message on the shirt did not sit well with one of the school administrators, who promptly asked Ms. Howard-Bolton to take it off. “I was informed that my shirt was my opinion, and I kind of countered that, actually, it is a fact,” she said.
When reached for comment, the Detroit Public Schools Community District expressed that sweatshirts were not acceptable staff dress code. They maintained that the political message on Ms. Howard-Bolton’s sweatshirt was not pre-approved.
Fortunately for the fifth grade teacher, the district declined to punish her for the dress code violation, and the controversial message. She stated that while she still stands by her decision to put on the sweatshirt on Columbus Day, it wasn’t something she would do again. She maintained that she would think twice in the future before doing something similar.
She stated that she would rather direct her focus to teaching rather than having discussions about controversial issues.