Before Mississippi’s Senate could vote on an anti-critical race theory bill, all Black members of the delegation walked out of the chamber in protest. They say this bill could hurt the state’s efforts to teach racial history.
Lawmakers are debating Senate Bill 2113, titled Critical Race Theory; Prohibit. While the bill does not explicitly prohibit the theory, it would add limits on how race and racism can be discussed in all Mississippi schools, colleges and universities.
In response to a question about why this bill is needed, Republican Senator Michael McClendon, who authored the bill, responded “I had so many constituents in my district that were concerned over the teachings that they have heard from around the country. They wanted to make sure that this was not going to be a problem in Mississippi.”
Republican Senator Michael McClendon authored the bill, and says it would specifically prevent teaching in schools that any sex, race, ethnicity or religion is superior or inferior to others. During the debate, Democratic legislators raised concerns that the bill would infringe on efforts to teach Mississippi’s complex racial history. Republican Senator Chris McDaniel defended the bill before the final vote.
“This bill does nothing to prohibit the teaching of what was, the objective facts of what was. What it does attempt to do is to make sure that children, by the plain language of the bill, aren’t told they’re inferior.”
Black members of Mississippi's senate walk out of the chamber before the final vote on a bill to ban teaching critical race theory in schools and universities. The vote passed. pic.twitter.com/hLUwAn6ekL— Kobee Vance (@kobeevance) January 21, 2022
As lawmakers began to vote on the bill, all 14 Black members of the delegation left the chamber in protest. Despite this, the bill passed with a vote of 32-2. Democratic Senator Derrick Simmons joined in the walkout.
“It’s important that our children know the facts about Mississippi’s dark past. History is history and the facts should be told. And I’m afraid, that teachers will be afraid to continue to teach the history of the state of Mississippi.”
Simmons says debating this bill was a waste of time when there are dozens of other issues that must be addressed during the state’s 90-day legislative session.