Shawnee Mission East hosting teacher famous for ‘blue eyes-brown eyes’ lesson after MLK Jr. assassination

Jane Elliott
Jane Elliott

Shawnee Mission East next month will host Jane Elliott, the former third grade teacher whose “blue eyes-brown eyes” lesson delivered the day after Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated drew her national attention, for a speaking engagement to promote diversity and inclusion.

SM East is partnering with St. Teresa’s Academy and the Blue Valley School District to bring Elliott to town. The 83-year-old educator, who gained wide renown as the subject of the film “The Eye of the Storm,” will spend the day at SM East Thursday, Feb. 16. Elliott will speak to students from all of the participating school at a series of assemblies starting before 9 a.m., and then will deliver a presentation to staff after school dismisses. An evening presentation from 7-8:30 p.m. will be open to the public.

In the now-famous classroom exercise, Elliott separated her third graders based solely on their eye color, telling them that students with blue eyes were “smarter, cleaner and more civilized” than people with brown eyes. “The Eye of the Storm” documented Elliott delivering the lesson to students in 1970. You can watch part of that film below: