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Educators, activists rally against bills that would prevent, limit critical race theory

Those who oppose laid out three reasons why they believe the bills are dangerous and also don't support the will of the local voter.

ATLANTA — Educators and activists rallied at the State Capitol Sunday afternoon against four proposed bills that would prevent or limit critical race theory and similar beliefs from being taught in school.

During a recent meeting, supporters stated: "No child in America should be made to feel guilty for things that they did not commit." "I will not allow a child, regardless of their skin color to think the system is rigged against them because of the way they look."

However, demonstrators who showed up disagree.

"They attack the stories that we can tell from underrepresented or marginalized backgrounds and they continue to allow our schools to tell false narratives about our history as a country as a state and as a world," Africana Studies high school teacher Anthony Downer said.

He said the proposed legislation doesn't just eliminate elements of the African American experience, but others too. He uses the example of Christopher Columbus. 

"By telling part of the story, you can set it up to make him look like a hero that explored the land that we call the United States. But when we look at the full story, the totality of the history we then see the genocide, the negative impact on indigenous communities, the attack on folks that were already here," Downer said.

One of the bill's authors State Representative Will Wade previously expressed his stance is that some of the teachings in question are about politics. "Kids are kids and they should not be used as political pawns for anybody," he said.

Penny Poole, president of the Gwinnett County NAACP said HB 888 and HB 1084, as well as SB 375 and SB 377 circumvent the choices local voters have already made.

"The people have voted, even the republicans in Gwinnett County in the 2020 election 71 percent of them said they do not want nonpartisan elections," Poole said. "They've taken these bills which would not have passed locally, taken them to the statehouse."

House Bill 888 specifically would allow a school district's budget to be cut 20 percent if they are not in compliance. Teacher Alfred Shivy Brooks said that component could have a detrimental impact.

"The consequences of cutting school budgets mean more crime, it means higher dropout rates. It means less funding for educators," Shivy Brooks said.

11Alive has reached out to all the bill's authors and supporters listed but has not yet heard back. HB 1084 and SB 377 both have committee hearings this week. We'll continue to follow their path through the legislature.

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