The Washington Post reported this week that a Virginia state employee has complained that her eighth-grade daughter was upset during a tour of the historic governor’s residence when first lady Pam Northam handed raw cotton to her and another African American child and asked them to imagine being enslaved and having to pick the crop.
Northam’s office and one other parent of a child who was present said the first lady did not single out the African American students and simply handed out the cotton to a group.
The tour took place Feb. 21. The Governor and First Lady hosted a traditional gathering of about 100 young people who had served as pages during the state Senate session.
Normally, trained docents lead tours of the Executive Mansion, which was built with slave labor in 1813 and is the oldest active governor’s residence in the country. Pam Northam — a former middle school teacher — took groups of pages to an adjacent cottage that had long ago served as a kitchen.
Mrs. Northam held up samples of cotton and tobacco to a group of about 20 children and described the enslaved workers who picked it.
“Mrs. Northam then asked these three pages (the only African American pages in the program) if they could imagine what it must have been like to pick cotton all day,” wrote Leah Dozier Walker, who oversees the Office of Equity and Community Engagement at the state Education Department.
Okay, full stop.
The First Lady was only handing out cotton, and she did not single out
It just doesn’t take much to trigger these folks anymore.