A press release sent out to media outlets about a Chicago high school holding a minstrel show is not real after all. According to the release, West Chicago Community High School was slated to perform a “Charity Minstrel Show” in hopes of fostering dialogue about racism.
The entire story was made up by Jason Pallas, one of 14 artists participating in the West Chicago City Museum’s exhibit “Where History and Progress Meet.” Pallas’ work has since been removed from the exhibit.
“His action to send out the press releases was done without city authorization and without city knowledge,” said John Said, the city’s director of community development, the department that oversees the museum. Jason Pallas was among 14 artists participating in the exhibit “Where History and Progress Meet,” which features artwork inspired by research on a piece at the museum, officials said.
As inspiration for his part of the exhibit, Pallas selected a playbill from the 1930s about a minstrel show. Museum officials later discovered that Pallas had sent out news releases on fake Community High School District 94 letterhead. News outlets, including the Chicago Tribune, received notices promoting a charity minstrel show put on by the “West Chicago Glee Club.”
The school’s director of community relations said that it was “a victim of an erroneous press release” and that it took the school “some time to figure out where it came from.”
School offcials released the following statement: “After some investigation, District officials discovered that someone, representing themselves as a staff member of Community High School, sent a press release to several media outlets advertising a fictitious Minstrel Show being performed by the CHS Glee Club. This was a hoax,” it read. “The press release was not created or distributed by Community High School District 94.”
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