Camille Bennett told the legislators she had to fight to get her high school to teach Black history.
And in confronting a bill that would regulate the teaching of "divisive concepts," many touching on slavery and racism, she told the House State Government Committee on Wednesday to consider how many institutions downplay those shameful episodes in American history.
"If you feel that Black history, and the nuances of Black history, will hurt the white children, which in my opinion is a false narrative, please consider how Black children feel when you overlook their history to attempt to preserve the old South," Bennett, the director of Project Say Something, told the committee on Wednesday. Bennet was one of several educators and officials who spoke against HB 312, sponsored by Rep. Ed Oliver, R-Dadeville. The bill would prohibit teachers from forcing students to "adopt or believe" a list of "divisive concepts." Those concepts include:
“That this state or the United States is inherently racist or sexist;"
“That an individual, solely by virtue of his or her race, sex, or religion, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, sex, or religion.”
“That with respect to American values, slavery and racism are anything other than deviations from, betrayals of, or failures to live up to the founding principles of the United States, which include liberty and equality.” The bill does not prohibit the teaching of those concepts, and Oliver said in committee that he was not attempting to prevent students from learning Black history. He said he was trying to achieve a "color-blind America" and "to uphold the Civil Rights Act of 1964." "I think it makes it easier for teachers to understand what's permissible and what's not," he said. "It doesn't keep you from teaching anything that you already teach, except in K-12, where you already have a mandated curriculum."