Natchez lawmaker responds to CRT bill being signed into law, ‘It’s not a law that Mississippi should have’
Published 4:47 pm Monday, March 14, 2022
Gov. Tate Reeves today signed a bill into law that sets limits on how race is talked about in Mississippi classrooms.
Senate Bill 2113, which Reeves signed, states that no Mississippi student will be forced to affirm that “any sex, race, ethnicity, religion or national origin is inherently superior or inferior.”
In signing the Bill, Reeves said the legislation would “help keep Critical Race Theory out of schools,” and the short title of Senate Bill 2113 says it would prohibit “critical race theory.” However, “critical race theory” is not cited in the law, nor is it defined in the law.
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Some who have opposed the bill have argued that it could inhibit or censor any discussion about the harmful effects of racism in schools.
“It’s ridiculous. It inhibits teachers’ freedom to feel like they can teach history. It’s a censorship,” said Rep. Robert Johnson III, D-Natchez, in regard to the bill. “I hope that at some point it will come back to the courts and be reversed.”
However, Reeves said the bill would not prevent the teaching of American history, including teachings about civil rights history or slavery.
“Contrary to what some critics may claim, this bill in no way, in no shape and in no form prohibits the teaching of history,” Reeves said in a video posted on social media. “Any claim that this bill will somehow stop Mississippi kids from learning about American history is just flat-out wrong.”
Johnson argued that because the theory is not defined in the law, it could set limitations on how true feelings about racism can be discussed in the classroom.
“It doesn’t define what critical race theory is,” he said. “A person could say I feel this way or that way about anything that is taught and then you can’t tell those stories anymore. You would stop a teacher from telling the true facts about the evilness of slavery and the people who opposed the civil rights movement.”
He added, “If it truly does not restrict the teaching of history, then why make a law at all? It’s not a law that Mississippi should have. All history, not just the chosen parts, but all history teaches us how to be better.”
Sen. Melanie Sojourner, R-Natchez, said the bill supports “fact-based” lessons and inhibits “subjective theories.”
“With only so many hours in the day, taxpayers are demanding our teachers be focused on teaching a fact-based curriculum that helps students become productive citizens. Schools should not be spending valuable time teaching subjective theories that have no basis in fact. Nor should they be teaching our children to be victims,” she said.
“Instead, we should be empowering our children. Schools should not be places where children are indoctrinated with leftist theories. To the contrary, let’s focus on courses which will prepare them to be strong, self-reliant citizens.”
The House voted 75-43 to pass the bill on March 3 after a six-hour debate.
In January, all of the Black senators withheld their votes and walked out in protest. It passed the Senate 32-2, with the only votes against the bill coming from white Democrats.
Reeves said the law would not prevent Mississippi’s teachers from teaching American history, including about slavery and the civil rights movement.
“Despite the arrows, the far left will volley at us because of this law, we’re not backing down. We can’t back down,” Reeves said. “Our kids are our greatest assets and Mississippi will do whatever we can to protect them.”