Republican lawmakers in Arkansas, Iowa and Mississippi, inspired by former President Donald Trump‘s “1776 Commission,” are aiming to pass a bill that would prevent students from learning about racial equality, The Associated Press reported.
Similar to Trump’s report, which was discarded after President Joe Biden took office, the latest proposal aims to prohibit schools from using Pulitzer Prize-winning “The 1619 Project,” a study published by The New York Times to shed light on the reality of American slavery. Republicans who oppose the teaching of Black history say the current system in K-12 schools and higher education is attempting to indoctrinate rather than teach students.
In Arkansas, legislatures are now considering two bills that would limit education on racial justice in school curricula. While House Bill 1231 aims to prevent schools from using “The 1619 Project,” House Bill 1218 is described as a law that prohibits lessons that promote division between people of different races, genders, political affiliation and social class status.
“The idea of simply saying you’re not going to use certain materials because you don’t like what they’re going to say without input from professionals makes no sense,” James Grossman, executive director of the American Historical Association, said.
However, teachers, civil rights leaders and policymakers say students will suffer if schools hide crucial parts of the country’s history.
“It’s one thing to not like a particular piece of journalism. It’s another thing to seek to prohibit its teaching,” “The 1619 Project” creator Nikole Hannah-Jones said.
The New York Times study, which was published in 2019 on the 400th anniversary of the first arrival of enslaved Africans, was also turned into a popular podcast while materials were developed for schools to use.
The critics, however, describe the project as a “racially divisive and revisionist account of history that threatens the integrity of the Union by denying the true principles on which it was founded.”
“It should not be taught as history,” Republican Rep. Mark Lowery said, adding that the project minimizes the founding fathers.
According to The Pulitzer Center, which partnered with The Times to develop lesson plans, more than 3,800 K-12 teachers and nearly 1,000 college educators planned to use the report.
Jonathan Rogers, a journalism teacher at Iowa City High School, has used the project’s podcast in his classes.
“Students definitely responded to thinking about using different sources or alternative storytelling,” Rogers said. “Also, just hearing Black voices is so important when we’re talking about diversity and perspectives, whether it’s historical events or current events.”
As Blavity previously reported, Biden scrapped Trump’s report as one of his first executive orders. But the writers of the controversial report moved the document to conservative websites after the White House removed the propaganda.