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Black Mississippi senators stage walkout during CRT vote

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This picture shows the entrance to the US Capitol Building, the meeting place of the United States Congress, on January 12, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

Black Mississippi senators have walked out of the US Senate to avoid voting on a bill that prohibits the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) in the state’s public schools, colleges, and universities.

The historic and unprecedented walkout of every Black Mississippi senator on Friday was in protest to the vote about CRT, which studies the legacy of racism and slavery in the United States and how these forces continue to impact the lives of Americans to this day.

Both state education officials and lawmakers acknowledged that the subject was not even taught in Mississippi.

“We walked out as a means to show a visible protest to these proceedings,” state Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson, said of the move.

“We felt like it was a bill that was not deserving of our vote,” said Sen. Derrick Simmons, D-Greenville. “We have so many issues in the state that need to be addressed. We did not need to spend time on this."

However, a poll held last year showed that the majority of Americans said they wanted CRT to be taught to high school students for them to understand the implications of racism and slavery in the United States.

Critical race theory

CRT is a way of studying the legacy of racism and slavery in the United States and how these forces continue to impact Americans. The educational concept is based on the argument that race is a social construct and that the United States was built on racist structures that exist today.

CRT isn’t widely taught outside of American colleges and universities, but a debate is underway whether it should be integrated into earlier American education.

Some US lawmakers have opposed teaching CRT in high schools.  In addition, Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma have created prohibitive legislation on what can be taught in schools.

An African American journalist and activist, who has worked for decades in solidarity with the liberation movements and progressive governments on the African continent and the Caribbean, said if the majority of people want the true history and social conditions of the country to be taught in schools, then this is what should prevail.

“By denying the legacies of slavery, institutional racism, national oppression and economic exploitation will only serve to further divide an already polarized country. Anti-racist education is essential in creating an atmosphere of hope and commitment to realizing a truly just society,” said Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, an international electronic press service designed to foster intelligent discussion on the affairs of African people throughout the continent and the world.

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