NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — One of the biggest debates in recent years surrounds Critical Race Theory. There is also a question of if and how Black history should be taught to children in school.

Leona Tate, is a civil rights pioneer from New Orleans that helped to integrate her school with Tessie Prevost and Gail Etienne; when they were only six years old.

Tate believes there is power in knowing the past in it’s entirety. Later this year, Mcdonogh 19, the school she transformed into the TEP Center, opens as a civil rights museum and community outreach center in the 9th Ward Community of New Orleans.

She will use what was once a school and the site of racial divide, to teach racial tolerance and healing.

“I guess when people see children in the past being a part of the civil rights movement she are blown away. They wonder how could people hate so hard like that and desire harm on children,” says Leona.

Much of Critical Race Theory’s opposition stems from it not always being defined. The Britannica Encyclopedia defines critical race theory as “a loosely organized framework of legal analysis based on the premise that race is not a natural, biologically grounded feature of physically distinct subgroups of human beings but a socially constructed (culturally invented) category that is used to oppress and exploit people of color.”

The idea seems attempt to understand discrimination, one must understand how it took hold in the first place. Another theory is similar and exists in Sociology named conflict theory. Conflict theory is an idea created by Karl Marx and it focuses competition among groups within society over limited resources and power. Conflict theory views social and economic institutions as tools of the struggle among groups or classes, used to maintain inequality and the dominance of the ruling class.

However, there are many definitions of Critical Race theory much of the time, it goes undefined. Many of those who are against it being taught in school, say they do not want children seeing race or becoming biased by learning about it.

Those who are for Critical Race Theory being taught in schools have a different ideology. On the internet, there is a meme that is circulating about. The meme is a picture of Leona Tate’s contemporary, Ruby Bridges, who also integrated her school in New Orleans across town. The meme reads, “If this child had to experience it, your child should learn about it.”

Thinking about her own story of integration Leona remembers the year 1960 vividly, saying, “They probably tried to hide the danger from us because they knew we would experience it. From what I can understand, there were some threats.”

“Three years before we integrated New Orleans Schools, Central School in Little Rock was integrated in 1957. They didn’t want to use the National Guard with us, as they did in Little Rock. Instead, they sent the U.S. Marshalls to protect us. Our school was so close to St. Bernard Parish, where most of the protestors came from. It was a highly racist area,” says Ms. Tate.

“They did a good job protecting us. I believe children need to know their history. I think that if they understood what it took, they would appreciate it a little bit better,” says Ms. Tate.

To understand American history is to understand it’s full story; both the triumphs and strengths of the country; along with it’s bitter disappointments and mistakes.

“I think a lot of people don’t want to think civil rights history is critical, because there may be some embarrassment about a situation that happened a long time ago. They might still have those ill feelings. I feel like some dialogue will help to understand why. That is the question; why do they feel that way? Why are they trying to erase that history? White children need to know as much as Black children what happened here. Some of the teachers who are teaching it, don’t know the right way. It’s not being taught the correct way. I think the children will change the world and we can make that difference. We can still make a difference,” says Leona Tate.

Perhaps there is misconception on the idea of “Black” history to begin with. If history is Black, is it American?