“At last, there is a critical mass of people all over the country who are are prepared to draw the line against conservative efforts to erase Black history, against efforts to make anti-racism unnameable, against efforts to undermine the ability of the next generation to understand what the meaning of that history is for the here and now.” – Kimberlé Crenshaw
In Florida, activists staged a sit-in outside the office of Governor Ron DeSantis, who signed a law last week that bans teaching about systemic racism and gender and race discrimination.
In Washington, D.C., and New York City, protestors marched outside the College Board headquarters to protest the watering-down of its AP African-American History course.
Across the country, concerned citizens convened Teach-ins on college campuses and read-alouds of banned books.
And dozens of Urban League affiliate presidents, gathered in New Orleans for a Leadership Summit, stood together for the Freedom To Learn National Day of Action on Wednesday, expressing their solidarity with the thousands of Americans defending truthful, inclusive education and efforts to remedy systemic racial inequities.
Schools banned nearly 1,650 individual books in the last school year, most of them because they include themes about race or sexuality. Among the titles deemed to be too dangerous for children to read are Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye, which explores “the devastating effects of racism and self-hatred on young black girls in America;” Ibram X. Kendi‘s Antiracist Baby, a guide for discussing racism with young children; and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, for which earned author Mildred D. Taylor the Newberry Medal, presented for “the most distinguished contributions to American literature for children”.
Access to truthful history, diverse books and critical ideas for students and educators are crucial to the nation’s history as a multicultural democracy. The so-called “War on Wokeness” threatens to eradicate decades of progress toward racial justice, by warping our view of the nation’s past, and thwart our future progress toward an equitable, multicultural society.
As highlighted in the National Urban League’s 2023 State of Black America® report, “Democracy in Peril: Confronting the Threat Within,” 21 states already have enacted measures that censor the honest examination of racism and race in American society, and the College Board has excised crucial material from its AP African American Studies curriculum in response.
The Freedom to Learn campaign has demanded that the College Board:
* restore the AP African American Studies curriculum
* commit to making the course available online to students who live in states in which politicians have enacted bans of books, knowledge, and ideas contained in the original curriculum that would prevent the course from being taught in those states
* conduct an independent investigation into to how the course development process was corrupted by outside political forces
* hold all implicated College Board officials accountable
It is a betrayal of democratic values for any responsible leader to actively participate in distorting or denying any part of our country’s history.”
As Loyola University professor of communication and African and African American Studies Karsonya “Kaye” Wise Whitehead noted, “It is not simply a debate about curriculum. We are standing up and saying that our classrooms — this nation’s heart and soul — are not up for debate; they are not up for discussion. You are not going to whitewash us out of history.”