JACKSON, Miss - A nationwide attempt to censor discussions of race in the classroom has made its way to Mississippi. A recent report by a conservative think-tank seeks to erase America’s complex and painful history of racism and oppression from Mississippi classrooms – a legacy that still impacts our country, our institutions and our culture today. The report recommends combating “divisive ideology” through legislation, which threatens school funding. 

The following statement is issued by ACLU of Mississippi, Mississippi State Conference NAACP, Children’s Defense Fund, Mississippi Center for Justice, Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative, Mississippi Urban League, Mississippi Votes, Southern Echo, Inc., Mississippi Black Women’s Roundtable, Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement, Parents for Public Schools, Inc., Restaurant Opportunities Centers United-Mississippi Chapter (ROC MS), National Association of Social Workers-Mississippi Chapter and One Voice.

The described ideology by the special interests seeking to pass this legislation, is not being taught in any public school classroom in Mississippi. They know this. But they also know if they can inflame emotions, they can justify drastic changes to Mississippi's education system by telling teachers how to do their jobs. 

The recommendations in this report are an effort to perpetuate and codify a deeply flawed and skewed version of American history. It diminishes the experiences of individuals who have bravely shared their stories, many of which live in the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. 

Our country needs to acknowledge and reckon with its history of systemic racism — this includes being able to teach and talk about these concepts in our schools. Students deserve to be taught the truth about our past, present and future so they can reasonably develop their own opinions and help improve the quality of life for all Mississippians in their own way. 

We cannot simply close our eyes, censor all conversation in the classroom that acknowledges and tries to learn from our full history, and claim that issues of systemic racial injustice have never existed. Any legislation that attempts to do this will stop us from addressing the legacy of our past and moving forward together. 

Teaching the truth about race in America and Mississippi does not seek to racialize every aspect of our culture. Rather, it is a bold acceptance that our country and our state have always been racialized. We were bold enough to change the state flag and to amend our constitution to end a Jim Crow era statewide election process. Let’s continue to be bold and not stifle the progress that has been made.