A Howard University professor is under investigation after he reportedly held a mock slave auction in class.
Details about the incident first were reported by the Caged Bird, an online magazine that targets readers who are students at historically black colleges and universities.
The professor, who is white, was reportedly teaching a lesson on Frederick Douglass’ slave narrative.
According to the report, the professor singled out one of the two black men in the class. The instructor then apparently discussed how slaves were examined before they were sold.
Caged Bird reported the professor asked the black student to stand up because he looked “healthy” and “like the type of slave buyers would look for.” Even more shocking was the student said he was asked to “turn around so we can see your buttocks” so the class could get a better sense of how much he was worth. That is when he said the class spoke up in disgust and he sat down.
“Personally I’m upset because I feel as though you can’t really have a mock slave auction at an HBCU, especially a professor of a different race,” said student Corey Jefferson. “I feel a little bit disrespected by that because I feel like we are past that. That was years before this and now we are at a different age. It doesn’t feel right.”
“It’s very disappointing to hear that, especially a professor anywhere [and] here at Howard,” said student Grant Edwards. “I guess we just got to hope to understand why he would choose to do that and try to move on from there. Kind of to understand how to prevent that and why that would be a necessary thing.”
The student involved said he stood up because he did not expect the professor to do or say the things he did. He also said he didn’t sit down sooner because I was so shocked.
A Howard University spokesperson says, “The university is aware of the incident and is investigating the matter.”