As children in some Republican-led states return to school, the curriculum will be vastly different. From the start of 2022, there has been an anti-Critical Race Theory crusade to provide the youth with a white-washed, non-confrontational version of America’s history. If it were left up to Republican lawmakers, they would only recite the only verse from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech they know. You know the one, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
A recent survey by More In Common shows why teaching all aspects of the civil rights movement is so crucial for people to see it wasn’t easy as they think. The survey shows most Americans remember the period for its “non-violent protests and leaders, including King and Rosa Parks.” However, most “appear to lack robust knowledge” of the era, and memories are “murky when an event experienced pushback or encountered riots and violence.”
It’s easy to teach the non-messy events of the Civil Rights era, where things seemed like they all came together. This is why education is more vital than ever. People that were surveyed couldn’t list five events from the period. When they did, it was Brown v. Board of Education, the march on Selma, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Again, these are integral events, but there was a lot that Black people lost in the fight for equal protection.
We must teach the ugly parts to learn from the ills of white supremacies in this country. That means talking about police officers turning dogs and firehoses on Black people during sit-ins, or the terrible amounts of slurs levied in the direction of Black children who went to integrated schools. Dr. King was arrested 30 times for everyday things like taking the bus or sitting at a restaurant.
Figures like Fred Hampton, Angela Davis, Malcolm X, and Shirley Chisholm need to be part of the conversation to show the diverse ideologies of voices regarding the Civil Rights movement. But, Republicans efforts are trying as hard as possible not to make this possible.
If there’s a silver lining from the survey, it’s these two facts. Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed agreed that all students should learn about leaders other than King and Parks. Another 80 percent agreed that students should learn both the movement’s successes and the struggles those involved faced. So, if the thirst for learning is there, why not teach them? Perhaps it’s the Republican leaders who are most afraid of guilt coming from the past.