AP

Talk about race: Mississippi House passes bill to set limits

Mar 3, 2022, 6:26 PM | Updated: 6:52 pm

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The same Mississippi Legislature that proclaimed racial reconciliation after removing the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag nearly two years ago passed a bill Thursday to limit how race can be discussed in classrooms.

Several Black legislators said during the six-hour debate that the bill could squelch honest discussion about the harmful effects of racism because parents could complain if history lessons make white children uncomfortable.

Democratic Rep. Chris Bell of Jackson opposed the bill. He said some people support it because they are fearful of Black people and are fearful of when white people will no longer be in the majority.

“In Mississippi, we always tend to live in the land of purgatory of the most negative things around. This bill adds to that purgatory,” Bell said.

The Republican-controlled House voted 75-43 to pass Senate Bill 2113. It will go to Republican Gov. Tate Reeves, who has pledged to sign it into law.

The bill’s short title says it would prohibit “critical race theory.” But the main text of the bill does not mention or define the theory, and many supporters of the bill also have said they cannot define it.

The bill says no school, community college or university could teach that any “sex, race, ethnicity, religion or national origin is inherently superior or inferior.”

Democratic Rep. Zakiya Summers of Jackson said she has been told by some colleagues that the bill does nothing substantial but it gives them a talking point at election time.

“Censoring teachers, dismantling education bit by bit, attempting to erase the past, refusing to acknowledge the hurt and the horror and the heinous acts that have been done to my people and then hiding behind this ‘inferior versus superior’ argument — that’s what this bill will do,” Summers said.

No legislators gave speeches in support of the bill. Republican Rep. Joey Hood of Ackerman, who is white, did not define critical race theory as he explained the bill Thursday.

“History will continue to be taught — American history, Civil War history, Mississippi history,” Hood said.

When the bill passed the Republican-controlled Senate in January, all of the Black senators withheld their votes and walked out in protest.

Republicans across the country have been raising money by saying critical race theory is a threat and multiple Republican-led states have banned or limited the teaching of critical race theory or similar concepts through laws or administrative actions.

Critical race theory is an academic framework that examines how racism has shaped public policy and institutions such as the legal system, and how those have perpetuated the dominance of white people in society.

State Superintendent of Education Carey Wright said critical race theory is not taught in Mississippi schools. The University of Mississippi law school offers an elective class on the theory.

Mississippi has the highest percentage of Black residents of any state — about 38%. Along with other states in the Deep South, including neighboring Alabama, it was a crucible of the civil rights movement.

All House votes for the bill on Thursday came from white Republicans. Of those voting against it, 39 are Black Democrats, two are white Democrats, one is a Black independent and one is a white independent. Four white lawmakers did not vote — two Republicans, one Democrat and one independent.

Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn led efforts to change the state flag in 2020, saying the Confederate symbol was hurtful to many. Voters approved a new flag that features a magnolia, and legislators put the new design into law in early 2021.

Gunn supported the bill Thursday, and immediately after it passed, he commended the House for having a respectful debate.

Gunn, who has been a leader in his Baptist church, also led the House in prayer and said representatives often face difficult issues, including the one Thursday. He asked God for “healing” and said: “We pray that you would not allow this to create division.”

___

Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Crystal Baziel holds the Pan-African flag Monday, June 19, 2023, during Reedy Chapel A.M.E C...

Associated Press

The beginner’s guide to celebrating Juneteenth

For more than one-and-a-half centuries, the Juneteenth holiday has been sacred to many Black communities. It marks the day in 1865 enslaved people in Galveston, Texas found out they had been freed — after the end of the Civil War, and two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Since it was designated a federal […]

9 hours ago

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch ro...

Associated Press

Plane that did ‘Dutch roll’ on flight from Phoenix suffered structural damage, investigators say

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch roll” during a flight from Phoenix last month.

5 days ago

This photo provided by Randy Shannon shows Mooney Falls on the Havasupai reservation outside the vi...

Associated Press

Dozens report illness after trips to waterfalls near Grand Canyon

Dozens of hikers say they fell ill during trips to a popular Arizona tourist destination that features towering blue-green waterfalls deep in a gorge neighboring Grand Canyon National Park.

6 days ago

Mugshot of Rudy Giuliani, who was processed Monday, June 10, 2024, in the Arizona fake electors cas...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani posts $10K cash bond after being processed in Arizona fake electors case

Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and Donald Trump attorney, was processed Monday in the Arizona fake electors case.

8 days ago

FILE - White House former chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House, Wed...

Associated Press

Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows pleads not guilty in Arizona fake elector case

Former Donald Trump presidential chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump 2020 Election Day operations director Michael Roman pleaded not guilty Friday in Phoenix to nine felony charges for their roles in an effort to overturn Trump's Arizona election loss to Joe Biden.

12 days ago

deadly heat wave last summer...

Associated Press

After a deadly heat wave last summer, metro Phoenix is changing tactics

Fresh memories of the deadly heat wave last summer have led Arizona authorities to launch new tactics ahead of summer 2024.

22 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Talk about race: Mississippi House passes bill to set limits