What is Black Lives Matter?
Discover many great resources curated by the American Library Association (ALA) on Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
In 1968, Jane Elliot an elementary school teacher in a small town in Iowa attempted to teach her class why the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. was celebrated heroic during Black History Month. She separated them in two groups: those with blue eyes and those with brown. On the first day of the experiment, the brown eyed group is exalted above the rest and given preferential treatment. The other group was regarded as dirty, stupid, and were treated unkindly by the preferred group. The intention was to demonstrate why the work of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s was celebrated that February. Elliot hypothesized that the children would have a better comprehension of racial discrimination if they could empathize with the pain prejudice and discrimination caused. The children walked away from the experience having learned an unforgettable lesson and so did Jane.
The documentary, "A Class Divided" produced and offered for free by Frontline PBS documents Jane Elliot's experiment as she and her former student revisit the groundbreaking experiment decades later.