Illinois State Representative LaShawn K. Ford and a group of community leaders called for the removal of history books and lessons because the current curriculum leads to “white privilege and a racist society”.
What We Know:
- Ford joined a group of community leaders in Evanston, Illinois on Sunday to ask their school districts and the state to stop the current history curriculum. According to Ford, the texts that are used and the way the classes are taught minimizes the contributions of marginalized people. “Until a suitable alternative is developed, we should instead devote greater attention toward civics and ensuring students understand our democratic processes and how they can be involved,” he said.
- This community initiative started back in February when Ford introduced HB 4954, which calls for schools to observe holidays relating to the principles of non-violence and civil rights. Meleika Gardner, a member of the women’s and children’s organization We Will, added to Ford’s bill to make classes about American civil rights and Black history mandatory in school curriculums. Gardner is a vocal opponent of current history curriculums, accusing it of preserving systemic racism and calling it “very damaging”.
- Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty has not been very open about discussing HB 4954, saying that he is not comfortable talking about education or suspending an entire subject from schools. In a recent statement, he showed mild support for HB 4954. “I am interested in learning more and believe the history of Black people should be taught to all children and include all groups, Women, LatinX, and Native Indians who helped to build America.”
In his statement, Ford mentioned a recent incident where white visitors displayed a Confederate flag at an Evanston beach. They were confronted by LaShandra Smith-Rayfield, who called them out for displaying a symbol of hate and posted the interaction to social media. In response, hundreds gathered at the beach on Friday to rally against racism.