High school rodeo club in South Dakota cancels annual 'slave auction' of students after backlash: report
An African American runaway slave named Gordon entered the Union Army lines at Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He became a Union soldier (Shutterstock)

On Thursday, The Washington Post reported that a high school in the tiny town of Faith, South Dakota has finally done away with an annual student fundraising tradition that it insensitively referred to as a "slave auction" — or at least, they will no longer call it that.

"For decades, Rodeo Club members offered a day of their labor to a rancher in exchange for a donation — and although there have long been calls for clubs across the state to stop labeling this slavery, the name in Faith has stuck," reported Emily Wax-Thibodeaux. "But this year, as a poster circulated on Facebook, Legion Hall host Glenda McGinnis said she received dozens of calls from people around the country wanting to know 'how such a racist and hurtful name could be used in 2021.'"

In the end, amid backlash from locals and state lawmakers, the students canceled the event, and pulled down all the posters around town advertising it. "McGinnis said she feels bad for the high school students because this is the main fundraiser for their club, which operates independently from the high school and provides scholarships and money for events," said the report.

The outcry comes just as the nation watched the trial of former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, and as other police use-of-force incidents have triggered controversy and racial conversations. It also comes as similar events making light of slavery have faced scrutiny in other schools, including one in Aledo, Texas.

According to the report, many in the community are debating over whether the cancelation was justified, or whether the event could simply be brought back with a more appropriate name.

"After Dakota News Now posted an article about the fundraiser on Facebook, some readers responded by offering new names for the event so it could still go forward, such as 'Wrangler for Hire' or 'Hired Hand Extravaganza,'" said the report. "Others mocked those who were upset as 'sensitive garbage' or said they wanted to donate to the club anyway. In one particularly heated exchange, one person posted that 'Slavery is offensive.' Another poster responded, 'Only to snowflakes like you.' Another chimed in, 'It's called cultural sensitivity based on history ... sad.'"

You can read more here.