A student effort to come up with a special menu for Black History Month backfired at a Northern California high school.
Interim President Sister Ann Bernard of Carondelet High School in Concord, Calif., said students who were members of the Black Student Union club at neighboring De La Salle High School planned a special lunch to celebrate the month.
The menu included fried chicken, corn bread and watermelon.
"They thought this was a very clever way, in their own way, of celebrating Black History Month. It was as simple, and naive as that," Sister Bernard explained.
On Thursday Bernard publicly apologized for the event she said was planned without following procedures to get staff approval.
"It was the parents who thought, rightfully so, we were being insensitive to African-American culture, which is not who we are or what we profess," Bernard said.
The first staff or administration heard of the proposed menu was when it was announced over the loudspeaker Monday morning.
"Most people were laughing, but they were laughing nervously because they knew it wasn't right," said sophomore, Dom Carpenello.
While Carpenello admitted the menu sounded tasty, she admitted, "The menu really doesn't have anything to do with black history."
The chief curator at Oakland's African-American Museum and Library, Rick Moss, agreed.
"I guess there's an impression that all black people eat this kind of food, which of course is false," Moss said.
He said the menu came from a place of ignorance about what Black History Month means, but says the reaction to the students' misstep was also wrong.
"So this is wonderful opportunity to actually inform people, not something to react to," Moss said.
Carondelet High School is using the incident as a “teachable moment,” Sister Bernard said there will be teacher sensitivity training and a student assembly this month.
"There's education needed on every single level, not just for students, but also for faculty and staff," she said.
As for the menu, Bernard said, "I can assure you that fried chicken and the rest of it is not part of it."