Sahuaro Fundraiser Auctioning Off Slaves


Louraine Bouraima

Yes, you read the title correctly everyone, slave day here at Sahuaro High School… in 1984, but don’t worry, we have progressed past that as a school. We now see our school as a community filled with diversity that is celebrated! Thinking about how far we have come as a school, there is no way Sahuaro would, or could, do something like this now. Even suggesting such an offensive event would cause the school to face serious consequences… speaking to Gen Z the school would get canceled. When I first saw the yearbook pages, I was in shock. I was like this has to be another school in a parallel universe in the multiverse, but sadly it was not. It was an actual fundraising event that made at least $500 because hey! nothing says profit like selling a human being right?… just ask the United States. Shockingly, this was not a one-time event, but a yearly tradition at the school spanning from 1980 through 1984. According to the yearbook, students began to lose interest in the event, causing it to end.   

Now after more research into the event, it wasn’t anything like all the black kids being forced to be slaves. However, there were African American students who participated.  Any Sahuaro student could decide to be sold as a slave for the week, regardless of race.   The whole point of this fundraiser was to buy someone to serve you – whether it be doing your homework or carrying you to class, some even controlled what their so-called “slaves” were allowed to wear to school. And “masters” were wheeled around in a wheelchair. The yearbook said, “On this day, students dressed up as prostitutes, Christmas trees, and playboy bunnies.”  Can you imagine a Spirit Week where students came to school dressed as prostitutes??  Some students showed up in lingerie, or barely what we would now call clothes; let’s just say they weren’t covered up.

And all of this was still occurring on Sahuaro’s campus in the year 1984. The yearbook described the event as a tradition where “anyone could become a slave or a slave owner”. People who wanted to become slaves were auctioned off every day on the week of October 10 at both lunches. Now, this sounds a lot like when terrified African American people were forced on a boat sailing on the oceans for months in horrible conditions and were then forced off the ship on a land unknown to them.

These individuals were then made to stand on a podium to be auctioned off into slavery, where they faced horrors other people couldn’t believe, then had to continue to live in a country where every day since they were stolen was an ongoing battle. And having to fight for freedom every day, not being able to return to “where they came from” because their whole identity was stolen and erased to the point where they don’t even know who their ancestors are – it’s difficult to understand how such a horrifying and offensive aspect of history was treated as a hilarious event to raise money.

I’m not saying this is a racist attack against African Americans. The whole concept of the fundraiser portrayed the most horrific part of the United States’ history. Imagine having someone to serve you, someone to do your homework, someone to drive you to school, someone to control, someone to do anything you want, and more, and then imagine how no adults could step up and say this was wrong. I believe the whole concept is disgusting based solely on the name itself.         

I’m so glad the Sahuaro campus is now graced with clubs like Unified In Color and Black Student Union, which have hosted many fundraisers and events celebrating all diversity, cultures, and people on campus. Sahuaro is now a place where anyone can come to feel like they belong and can go throughout the whole year feeling celebrated.