School Serves Fried Chicken to 'Honor' Black History Month

A Massachusetts school is facing backlash after reportedly trying to commemorate the beginning of Black History Month by serving fried chicken for lunch.

"In honor of Black History Month, one way we will celebrate is by highlighting a traditional meal each week that is a staple in Southern Black history. Today's lunch is fried chicken," Xaverian Brothers High School announced to students over the PA system Tuesday morning, WCVB reported.

Tuesday marked the first day of Black History Month, which parties and organizations ranging from NASA to the White House have committed to honoring.

Xaverian's own attempt to kick off the month was decried by several students, including Michael Earls, the student body vice president for the school's senior class. He said in a statement that the Xaverian administration "must first acknowledge that their ignorance perpetuated a racist stereotype and issue a formal apology."

School officials at Xaverian said that they were trying to educate students about Black history and culture. They also said that a food service employee at the school who was African American had chosen fried chicken as the meal, WCVB reported.

"Regrettably, our message was poorly communicated resulting in some perceiving it as the propagation of a negative stereotype," Xaverian Brothers said in a statement. "We are saddened by this outcome. Going forward, we will strive to ensure that all members of our community understand the significance of our efforts to celebrate Black History Month.

School Criticized For Serving Fried Chicken
A Massachusetts school is facing backlash after reportedly trying to commemorate the beginning of Black History Month by serving fried chicken for lunch. Fried chicken with salad is seen at a restaurant in San Jose, California, September 25, 2021. Sftm/Gado/Getty Images

One student, Xaverian senior Liam Baker, told a WCVB reporter that "Honestly, I think it's just a big stereotype. It could be seen as a little racist."

"It's the first day of Black History Month. They couldn't have come up with a better thing than fried chicken for African cuisine? It doesn't really make much sense," he added.

"It's over-hyped. We eat chicken every single day for school," said fellow Xaverian senior Oliver Waddleton. "We're learning more about Black history. It's something that every single school should do."

The PA announcement on Tuesday also spoke about how some newly-freed Black women were able to support themselves financially after the Civil War by selling fried chicken, according to the school.

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture wrote on social media in 2019 that these women, known as "waiter carriers," were able to find "a path to financial freedom through fried chicken in the 1800s, and put Gordonsville, Virginia on the map as the 'Fried Chicken Capital of the World.'"

Xaverian is a Catholic, college-preparatory school for boys in grades seven through 12 located in Westwood, Massachusetts. It describes itself on its website as an "inclusive community" that embraces "diverse experiences and perspectives, welcoming students and families from all faiths and backgrounds."

Newsweek has reached out to Xaverian Brothers High School for comment.