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After Backlash, Rodeo Club Cancels 'Slave Auction'

'Now I see; this is a very bad choice of words'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2021 4:32 AM CDT

(Newser) – In a small South Dakota town, the high school rodeo club holds an annual fundraiser where members offer to work for a rancher for a few days in return for a donation. But this year's fundraiser in Faith was called off after people objected to its name—the "Slave/Branding Auction." Glenda McGinnis at the town's Legion Hall tells the Washington Post that she has received calls from around the country—and from a local cowboy—asking how "such a racist and hurtful name could be used in 2021." McGinnis says the event has been held for decades. "I didn’t even think of 'slavery' in racist terms," she says. "It's just kids work for free to raise money for their club. Now I see; this is a very bad choice of words."

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A spokeswoman for the Faith School District tells the Rapid City Journal that the fundraiser isn't run by the local high school, which has it on its calendar as a "branding crew auction." State Rep. Linda Duba said the rodeo club could have renamed the event—suggestions on social media included "Wrangler for Hire" or "Hired Hand Extravaganza"—but instead "displayed a tone deafness that is inexcusable." The South Dakota Voices for Justice advocacy group says it wants the state to require districts to teach students about the history of slave auctions, where men, women, and children were sold as property and marked with brands so slaveowners could track them down if they tried to escape. (Read more South Dakota stories.)

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