By Alexandria Hoff

CHERRY HILL, N.J. (CBS) — Ragtime is a musical set in 20th century America, that explores racism and classism. The question on Tuesday night surrounded whether or not the N-word is necessary in telling the story of that time.

Following the complaint, the Cherry Hill School Board made the decision last week to remove the N-word from the musical, scheduled to debut in March. A large crowd of students and alumni of Cherry Hill East filled Tuesday night’s board meeting in protest.

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Over 1,200 also signed a petition asking the board to reverse their decision. They say, to remove the word is to sanitize history and its lessons.

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Others feel the use glorifies an ugly word that served a cruel purpose for too long.

“I and we don’t need to be refreshed on what racism is by the unfettered use of this word and like phrases in a high school play, or musical,” one man in attendance said.

“I ask you please, reconsider. Let these kids say these words that were unfortunately the norm and let them moments later walk off that stage to realize how lucky they are to be where they are and accomplish things that these characters and real life people of this time could only dream of,” a woman in attendance argued.

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A major concern is that even if the board wanted that one word replaced, the licensor could and likely will say no. If that is the case, the show won’t go on at all.

Alexandria Hoff