US school staffer wears Blackface in Covid vaccine protest, claiming to portray Rosa Parks

  • A special education assistant in the state of Oregon said she was channelling the Black civil rights icon as a way to show opposition to vaccine mandates
  • Coronavirus deaths are on the rise in the US, but many people still protest against requiring masks and jabs
Agence France-Presse |

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Protesters opposing Covid-19 vaccine mandates hold a rally in front of City Hall in downtown Los Angeles. COVID-19 deaths in the US have climbed to an average of more than 1,900 a day for the first time since early March, with experts saying the virus is preying largely on a select group: 71 million unvaccinated Americans. Photo: AP

An elementary school staff member in the US state of Oregon arrived for work in Blackface on Monday, claiming to be portraying Rosa Parks as a way to protest Covid-19 vaccine mandates in the United States.

Special educational assistant Lauren Pefferle told colleagues she was channelling the Black civil rights icon as a way of highlighting her opposition to rules making the shots compulsory for school staff, reported Oregon’s Newberg Graphic newspaper.

Pefferle said she had used iodine to darken her face in order to look like Parks, whose dignified refusal to give up her bus seat to a white passenger was a pivotal moment in the battle against racial segregation in the United States.

More than 675,000 Americans have died from coronavirus

Blackface - when non-Black people wear dark make-up to portray a person of colour - is generally considered highly offensive.

Oregon is one of a growing number of spots in the United States that require staff in schools to be vaccinated against Covid-19, as the country grapples to reverse a surge in case numbers.

While the rules are popular with most Americans, a small but vocal minority continues to protest against both vaccines and other coronavirus restrictions, calling them infringements on individual liberties.

There’s no scientific evidence that masks can harm children

Pefferle’s actions earned her disapproval from her employers.

“Last Friday, one of our employees reported for work in Blackface,” Newberg School District, where Pefferle works, said in a statement.

“The employee was removed from the location, and (human resources) has placed the employee on administrative leave.”

“It is important to remember how Blackface has been used to misrepresent Black communities and do harm. We acknowledge the violence this represents and the trauma it evokes regardless of intention. Blackface has no place in our schools.”

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