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Parents won’t let daughter attend birthday sleepover because birthday girl is black

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Posted at 2:45 PM, Mar 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-17 14:45:35-04

MEMPHIS, Tennessee -- A young girl wrote her friend a letter that explained she could not go to her birthday party because she is black. The children are students at Highland Oaks Elementary near Memphis. Civil rights activist Lasimba Gray said he hoped the letter can turn into a teaching experience.

"Fifty-two years since the Dr. King 'I have a dream speech,' you would think that the basis for racism would disappear, but evidently it is being perpetuated by those who teach it," Gray said. Gray, who has dedicated his life to civil and human rights, said when he saw the letter he called it "regrettable" because a parent told their child it was OK to judge someone based on the color of their skin.

"Every child has a blank canvas when they come into the world," Gray said.

The letter reads in part, "Maybe I will not be able to go to your birthday sleepover because my dad will not let me go because you are black."

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The birthday sleepover was for Harmony Jones. When her father, Christopher Jones, saw the letter, he said he was surprised.

"It angered me a little bit, it hurt me that my 10-year-old girl had to deal with this, and I myself never thought I would have to deal with this," he said.

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Jones said he doesn't blame his daughter's friend.

"I guess us as parents need to be more aware and conscious about what we teach our children," he said.

As regrettable as the note is, Gray hopes it's something everyone can learn from.

"When parents run across racism that's a good moment to teach tolerance but more than that to teach understanding to appreciate each other and celebrate our diversity," Gray said.

The Jones family did not let the letter ruin Friday's party. Harmony still had a successful birthday.

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The school didn't have a comment about what happened.