Bell County activists are asking for support as they plan to rally Saturday in defiance of a bill currently awaiting approval from Gov. Greg Abbott which will ban educators from teaching the history of racism in public school classrooms.
Local organization, BLAQ2C, Black Ladies Advancing Qualitative and Quantitative Change, is hosting the rally with the Bell County Democratic party as part of a nationwide day of action, spearheaded by the Zinn Education Project, to counteract legislation in 15 states that would require teachers to lie to students about the role of racism and oppression throughout U.S. history, activists who are against the legislation say.
The groups will meet in front of the Confederate statue outside the Bell County Courthouse in downtown Belton on Saturday at 1 p.m. to hear from speakers about the possible impact of such legislation.
If signed into law, Texas House Bill 3979 will limit what public school students learn about the history of racism in the U.S. and how teachers can talk about current events as they relate to race.
“In the middle of the night, our legislators in Austin decided to discuss (House Bill) 3979,” Bell County Democratic Party Chairwoman Chris Rosenberg said Thursday. “This is a white privilege bill that wants to erase race from our classrooms. As a former teacher who taught in diverse classrooms, I can tell you that race comes up every day. The idea that these white guys in Austin want it to go away is something that we can’t stand for, that we shouldn’t stand for.”
Rosenberg said history should be taught and learned from, not re-written.
“All of us have history and connections to slavery, to genocide of Native Americans,” she said. “This is the American story. It’s not cinematic and pretty; it’s brutal and it’s ugly. Until we start having those conversations, how can we ever learn from our past? What we really want to do is educate the public about it. There were so many ugly bills that were passed in the mess of the legislative session, this is one of those things that we feel didn’t get adequate attention.”
Killeen activist Philemon Brown said he hopes people will join the rally Saturday in support of history and truth.
“The event Saturday is to encourage teachers, educators to teach the truth,” Brown said.
Brown said ignoring Texas’ racist past would be ignoring historic facts.
“Texas was a slave-owning state,” he said. “When we talk about the historic values of Texas, the values of Texas are not about equality and equity.”