Hampton, GA – A public school teacher accused her white pre-teen students of being "European" killers during a Black History Month rant against Donald Trump.
Kimberly Orihuela told Blue Lives Matter that she was horrified by a number of things that she’d seen at Hampton Middle School since her family moved back to their hometown of Hampton in December.
Her daughter, Josie, was a 6th grader at Hampton on Feb. 1 when she texted her mother to come get her at school, quickly.
“I received a text from my 12-year-old daughter at school saying ‘please mom you have to come get me. Please mom I’m scared. Mom, you have to come get me. My teacher’s mad at me,’” Kimberly said.
She said she dropped everything and headed for the school. When she arrived, her daughter told her that she had made her teacher angry in class, and that she was afraid.
Josie confessed to her mother that she had made a recording of her teacher’s classroom rant that so disturbed her. She was worried that she was going to be in trouble because cell phones are prohibited from being used in classrooms.
Her mother told her not to worry, and took her home where she had her daughter upload the recording to YouTube so she could listen to it.
She said that she found it painful to listen to the more than 15-minute lecture delivered to a 6th grade social studies class by Johnetta Benton.
Josie told Blue Lives Matter that she started recording “Mrs. Benton” right after the teacher told the class that when Donald Trump talked about Make American Great Again (MAGA), he was actually talking about bringing back segregation.
“Maybe he’s talking about it was great during segregation in the 60s. Is that what he’s talking about? Maybe it’s not that either. Maybe he’s talking about the 70s, when we had the Black Panther movement because people were still not being treated equally. We were still fighting for our rights. Maybe that’s what he’s talking about. Or maybe he’s talking about the 90s when we had police officers beating Rodney King in the street. And people were looting because police officers were beating up and killing African-Americans,” Benton ranted to her 6th grade social studies class in the recording.
“Now we’re in the 2000s, and we’re still having the same issues. So when my president says let’s Make America Great A-gain, when was he talking about? When was he talking about?” the teacher asked her students in a strident tone.
“He must be talking about when it was great for Europeans. Because when it comes to minorities, America has never been great for minorities. And even now it makes me go hmmm, and I’m trying to figure out when it was great. And then now he’s trying to stop immigration,” Benton said.
In the video, Benton told the class that Europeans – Christopher Columbus, specifically – stole America from the Native Americans, resulting in the Trail of Tears.
“They put them on reservations… Is that the great America he wants us to return to? Or maybe it’s segregation? … Now I’m not saying that’s what he wants – it just makes me go hmmmm,” she said. “Cuz when I examine history, I can’t remember a time when it was great for anybody other than the Europeans.”
At one point Josie raised her hand to be acknowledged.
“What past is he talking about? Help me understand,” Benton said to Josie on the recording.
“But it was great at some points in between, but it hasn’t always been great,” Josie began to respond.
“But now we’re talking about stopping immigration to make it great again. You think it would make it great again?” Benton grilled her.
Josie told her mother that she was trying to point out that Benton was talking about Christopher Columbus and not the recent history of the country that President Trump was talking about.
“She was correct in saying that maybe the teacher was going too far back,” Kimberly said. “When President Trump talks about Making American Great Again, he means he wants to bring back jobs and have manufacturing in the United States again.”
She said she did not like hearing that Henry County schools were teaching this twisted opinion and interpretation of history.
The teacher seemed to ignore Josie's opinion and ranted on.
“So we’ve had great moments where lots of things have been changed… history as a whole has had a lot of moments and we’ve made a lot of progress. I would say instead of saying … oh let’s make it great again. I’d say let’s make it even better. Because when you say let’s make it great again, I’m thinking, wow, there were so many things wrong outside of cultural wrongs. There were gender wrongs just for being a woman. Your husband could beat you and you called the police and they’d say he has the right to do it… so I would not say go back, I would say continue,” Benton lectured, unable to stop talking about the President’s campaign slogan.
“So when you say ‘again,’ and I am a minority person. I think when was it so great? When? We have had great moments,” the teacher invited input from her students.
Josie tried to answer the questions posed once again.
“Um, a little bit before Obama was President there were illegal immigrants and there were immigrants. But too many illegal immigrants [unintelligible], he’s probably talking about the point before all of illegal immigrants were killing Americans.”
“I have not heard about a lot of illegal immigrants killing Americans,” Benton scoffed in the recording.
At that point, a second teacher in the room interrupted Josie to set the record straight.
“Even on that Josie, what you’ve got to understand is that you, you, you, all of us here are all illegal immigrants,” Mr. Stroud told the class.
“Because America belonged to somebody else,” Benton added.
“Because America belonged to somebody else,” Stroud continued. “So when they came over here, people who are of African descent, we were brought over with no choice because we were made slaves. People from European descent, they came over and took the land from the Native Americans.”
“So technically, the people that you’re talking about are actually no worse than the people who came over here and set up this great America because they all were illegal immigrants too,” he said.
“There is nobody in this country that hasn’t immigrated other than Native Americans. Every person sitting in this room is an immigrant. Every one of you. So when you say immigrants are killing people, you are talking about yourselves,” Benton added.
But then she changed her mind, and decided that the word “immigrant” doesn’t actually apply to African-Americans.
“Because Europeans came from Europe. You are immigrants. You are illegal immigrants. Because you came and just took it... You are an immigrant. This is not your country. But together we made it into what it is… We made it into what we call a melting pot. It’s our country now. But we all immigrated except African-Americans,” Benton explained on the recording.
“We didn’t immigrate… we didn’t have a choice. We were given no choice. We were in chains and told we’re property. You have no rights. You have no say. You do what we say. You eat what we eat. You sleep when we say you can sleep. And you die if we say you’re gonna die today, you’re gonna die today,” the teacher said, getting wound up.
“That’s the real history of America!” Benton shrieked at the class.
Then the teacher started to literally point her finger at the five white students in the classroom, Josie told Blue Lives Matter.
“So every person in here unless you’re a Native American – and I sure don’t see any in here, I could be wrong – we’re all immigrants. So when you say immigrants are killing folks, that’s us. That’s you, you, you, you and you,” Benton pointed to the white students in the room, starting with Josie.
“She only pointed to the white kids,” Josie said.
“She like pointed directly at me with that one finger on the first ‘You.’ She gave me a death stare. It was scary,” the 6th grader said.
“My forefathers did not immigrate. My forefathers were brought over here in chains. And that’s how you got black people in America,” the teacher informed her class.
And then Benton began ranting about how she disagreed with President Trump’s immigration policy.
“So you want to talk about somebody else? Before you talk about somebody else look at yourself in the mirror. Look at your ancestry in the mirror before you start saying you’re bad, and you’re bad, and you’re bad so you can’t come. Cuz you happened to kill a few people but guess what, my people have killed millions,” Benton said, speaking as though she were a “European” immigrant. “Not a few. Millions upon million upon millions. Babies included.”
“And you can’t say just because you’re Mexican-American your people can’t come because a few Mexicans killed somebody. Well you killed millions,” the teacher said, pointing at the white students, according to Josie.
“Who stopped you? You have a wall being built between Europe and America now? They gonna build one of those? Or are we now going to say oh only [unintelligible] Europeans can come over here. We gonna do that? … We could stop Europeans coming in… Would that be right? … This is a melting pot.”
The recording ended there but Kimberly said there was more that they hadn’t uploaded to YouTube.
“I had to explain to my daughter that she’s not an illegal immigrant, and that Make American Great Again doesn’t mean that Trump wants slavery and segregation back,” Kimberly told Blue Lives Matter, clearly furious.
“I was livid. What in the hell? This is your Black History Month lesson? What does Donald Trump have to do with black history month? And why would it ever cross anybody’s mind that MAGA stands for what this teacher turned it into,” the mother asked.
“I had to stop listening in the first couple minutes to take a deep breath. I was like ‘can it get worse than that?’ And it actually did,” Kimberly said.
She said the purported Black History Month lecture was the final straw, and she put their home up for sale almost immediately.
“I had to get my kids out of the Henry County schools,” Kimberly said.
“She basically told these children that they were responsible for millions of deaths. Why is she saying that every white child is the descendent of a slave owner? That’s just not true,” she said.
“I told my daughter I was proud that she had the nerve to ask the questions – that she called her out on the fact Trump is talking about illegal immigrants, not legal immigrants,” Kimberly said.
“But when she told the kids to go home and look in the mirror and reflect on what their ancestors have done… I had had enough,” the mother said angrily.
Kimberly said she met with Hampton Middle School Principal Purvis Jackson and that he agreed with her when he listened to the recording of Benton.
“Principal Jackson was very objective and professional, and you could tell he was extremely disappointed with his teacher, and with his staff. That’s just my opinion,” she said.
She said the principal asked her how the situation could be fixed and she told him that she wanted the students who had been given the twisted history lesson to be taught the correct curriculum in a new lecture. He agreed to make sure it was done.
Kimberly said the principal kept his word, eventually, having a new lecture delivered to the students more than a month later, on a day when her daughter was absent from class.
J.D. Hardin, communications coordinator for the Henry County schools, told Blue Lives Matter that the situation had been addressed with both teachers who were in the classroom when the recording was made.
“As a district, we do not condone teachers taking political stances in the classroom,” Hardin said.
“The appropriate leadership has taken up the matter to make sure these actions aren’t continued,” he said.
But Hardin refused to elaborate on what corrective action had been taken with the teachers, citing human resources policy restrictions.
Parents from Hampton Middle School told Blue Lives Matter that Benton has maintained her teaching position at the school, but that Stroud has since left the school for reportedly unrelated reasons.
Hardin said the school does not condone what was heard on the recording of Benton in class, nor did they approve of the writing assignment given to the Hampton Middle School 7th grade social studies class, that required them to write a letter to Congress demanding stricter gun control a few weeks later.
“It is important that people know that we don’t condone the actions, and people should also know corrective measures have been taken to ensure this doesn’t happen again,” Hardin explained.
Whatever may happen, Kimberly said it’s too late for her daughter. Their family moved back to Gray, Georgia in Jones County, and Josie has been enrolled in a new school with a less liberal teaching agenda, the mother said.
“Nobody’s stopping the liberal agenda in the classroom,” she said. “I’m part of the ‘silent majority’ they’re always talking about, except I’m not going to be silent anymore.”
You can hear the recording of the teacher's rant below: