After 329 years -- and thanks to an eighth-grade civics class -- a Salem-era woman has been officially exonerated of devil worship.
In 1693, Elizabeth Johnson was one of 30 people who were convicted as part of the Salem-area witch hysteria but the only one who hadn't later been exonerated by the state Legislature, making her the last person still regarded, as far as the state legal system was concerned, as in league with Satan.
Johnson's cause was championed for three years by Carrie LaPierre, an eighth-grade civics teacher in North Andover where Johnson lived more than three centuries ago. LaPierre led her classes in learning about the witch trials, contacting legislators, helping draft legislation and lobbying state officials. "It's a great way to do civics education, and it has nothing to do with critical race theory, so everyone feels good about it," LaPierre explained. [...]
Even with political backing, however, LaPierre's young charges weren't immediately excited about the prospect of becoming activists for a supposed 17th century necromancer. "Are you kidding? They're eighth graders," La Pierre explained. "It took some of them a month to realize she's dead. [...]
"A bill or resolution can still send an important message even if it's not binding legislation or is a couple of centuries late," he said. "This one might help in a small way to remind people that it's better to make decisions based on evidence as opposed to just believing what Goody Putnam posted about witches on Ye Facebooke." [...]
LaPierre was more reticent to draw contemporary parallels in her classroom. "Current events are not a safe area because people might start talking about Trump," she noted.
No class celebration of the bill-signing has been planned because the students are on summer vacation, "and they don't care as much," La Pierre said. "Maybe in 10 years it will sink in."
Update: Lowering The Bar has more, including coverage of several related cases.
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