DeKalb, IL — A decades-long tradition of a South Dakota high school club hosting a “slave/branding auction” was canceled after fliers for the event were shared on social media.
The Faith High School Rodeo Club planned to have this year’s auction April 26, but the event was canceled after several people criticized it for being racist and inappropriate.
The event consists of students offering to work for someone for a day in exchange for a donation to the club, according to Dakota News Now.
Fliers for the auction were shared on social media, and it appeared on the school’s online calendar, but the district’s superintendent said Faith High was not affiliated with the event, according to KELO-TV.
The auction is a 40-year-old tradition, said Glenda McGinnis, whose Community Action Club owns the town’s Legion Hall where it was set to take place next week.
She told The Washington Post she was naive to the choice of words.
“I even got a call from a local cowboy who said: ‘How’s this going down? It’s not right,’” McGinnis said, according to The Washington Post. “I told him we weren’t doing anything wrong. And he explained, ‘Well, it’s how it was advertised that’s wrong.’”
The event was canceled by the club’s adviser, who chose not to carry it on with a different name.
The concept of slave-auction fundraisers isn’t new in South Dakota. An auction hosted by the Pierre/Fort Pierre High School Rodeo Club was held in 2019, despite criticism from local residents, according to the Capital Journal.
Community activist Julian Beaudion said elected officials in the town should speak out against the auction “and acknowledge the hatred it portrays.”