Associated Press, January 22, 2022
Black lawmakers walked out in protest Friday and withheld their votes as the Mississippi Senate passed a bill that would ban schools from teaching critical race theory.
Republicans said the theory teaches “victimhood,” while Democrats said the ban could squelch discussion of Mississippi’s racist history.
“This bill is not morally right,” Democratic Sen. Barbara Blackmon of Canton, who is Black, said during the debate.
The bill’s chief sponsor, Republican Sen. Michael McLendon of Hernando, who is white, said hundreds of constituents have told him they have heard about the theory on national news and they don’t want it taught to their children.
McLendon struggled to define critical race theory when he was asked about it. But he said: “Systematic racism should not be taught to our children.”
Republicans control the Mississippi House and Senate. Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn are among the GOP leaders who have publicly said critical race theory is harmful.
Black senators walked out of the Mississippi Senate chamber before the vote on Senate Bill 2113. It passed 32-2, with the only votes against the bill coming from white Democrats.
“Critical race theory” is in the title of the bill, but the main text of the bill does not define the phrase. The bill says no school, community college or university could teach that any “sex, race, ethnicity, religion or national origin is inherently superior or inferior.”
“I’m trying to find the mischief in this language, and I don’t see it,” said Republican Sen. Chris McDaniel of Ellisville, who is white.