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Florida teacher says he quit after staff removed photos of Black leaders

A Florida elementary school teacher said he quit his job after another staff member removed his pictures depicting African American leaders.



A Florida elementary school teacher claims he was forced to resign after a colleague removed pictures of African-American leaders from his classroom.

Teacher Michael James from Pensacola’s O.J. Semmes Elementary School claimed he had tacked up pictures of Martin Luther King Jr. and Harriet Tubman, as well as George Washington Carver and Colin Powell, all of whom were involved in the civil rights movement.

The majority of his students are African-American, and he wanted them to see role models they could identify with, he told The Pensacola News Journal.

James was “absolutely stunned” when the pictures were taken down.

Despite his 15 years of experience in the field of special education, he was taken aback by her actions, as he explained to the local paper.


James didn’t say who on the team had removed the photos. Before the start of the school year, he and two coworkers were seen by The Pensacola News Journal preparing his classroom.

James claimed the pictures and a copy of the Pledge of Allegiance were on a bulletin board behind his desk. A member of staff began removing items from a student’s bulletin board as he sat at his desk doing some cutting.

James claimed that an employee had told him the pictures were inappropriate for his children. He also claimed that she took down a picture of Barack Obama that he had on his desk.

“She grabbed it and remarked, “There’s no reason to hang this up, either.” She said, “the kids are too young” or something to that effect, and I don’t remember her exact words. That blew my mind, “It was in the newspaper, he said.

James was quoted as saying in the newspaper that he made the decision to resign because he could not continue working for a school district that would hire someone with such behavior.


A spokesperson for Escambia County Public Schools, Cody Strother, confirmed to NBC News that the district had received James’ resignation on Tuesday. According to Strother, James notified the office of Governor Ron DeSantis via email, and that email included the district in question.

“We are currently conducting extensive research into this matter. It is our hope that all of our educators feel appreciated and supported, so if these accusations are confirmed as true, we will act accordingly “said Strother in a statement.

NBC News was unable to reach James on Thursday, so they asked for a copy of his resignation letter via a public records request.