Dispute about sociology quiz question on slave families ends in lecturer's termination at the University of Tennessee

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tags: slavery, Civil War, University of Tennessee



It started with a question on a quiz: “Historical research on African-American families during slavery shows that …” A student took exception to what her instructor said was the correct answer, an email exchange ensued and things escalated.

The University of Tennessee at Knoxville allegedly terminated the instructor, and the student is now celebrating on social media, saying she “got a racist professor fired midsemester after she tried to sabotage me.” What exactly happened?

In February, Kayla Renee Parker, now a senior, answered the question about enslaved families on a sociology quiz administered by longtime lecturer Judy Morelock. Parker, who has since shared the story online, was sure the answer was “C) Black family bonds were destroyed by the abuses of slave owners, who regularly sold off family members to other slave owners.” Plenty of historians would agree.

Yet Morelock marked it as wrong, saying the correct response was “D) Most slave families were headed by two parents.” To Parker, something was off, since her textbook mentioned the separation of families by the slave trade. She emailed Morelock to ask why “C” couldn’t at least also be true, according to messages she shared on Facebook.





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