Marlon Anderson, a longtime Black security guard in the Madison Metropolitan School District, will be reinstated after being fired for telling a student not to call him the N-word, the district announced Monday in a press release.
“I’m thankful. I’m blessed, and I’m so happy to be going back and doing what I do,” Anderson told News 3. “I miss the kids. I’m looking forward to hitting the ground running. I’m excited (and) so happy for the kids because they got out and fought for this, and they won. I’m excited to walk back into the school because that’s going to let them know their voices are powerful.”
Students staged a walkout in protest of Anderson’s firing and former U.S. education secretary Arne Duncan said Anderson’s firing was “more evidence our country still can’t handle issues of race and racism.”
Anderson said that “teachable” moments are important, and that’s what he was doing when he repeated the N-word to explain the history and context of it after a student called him the racial slur.
“Staff don’t need to be afraid to teach a student,” he told News 3. “If you have a teachable moment, you have to take that moment … It’s time for a change.”
When the Madison School Board President Gloria Reyes recommended that Anderson be given his job back, she said: “Oftentimes, when we implement universal practices and take action on that, we ultimately impact the people that we’re trying to protect.”
According to News 3, the Madison Metropolitan School District is now considering rebooting its zero-tolerance practice for staff saying racial slurs in order to make room for Anderson’s type of “teachable moment” and that the board will consider a new policy through a lens of “deep racial equity.”