JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – On Friday, the Mississippi Senate passed legislation (SB 2113) that would prohibit the teaching of critical race theory in K-12 public schools and in the state’s public universities and community colleges.
Black lawmakers walked out in protest and withheld their votes. The bill passed 32-2, with the only votes against the bill coming from two white Democrats.
“This bill is not morally right,” Democratic Sen. Barbara Blackmon, 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.”
Critical race theory is an academic framework that examines how racism has shaped public policy and institutions such as the legal system, and how those have perpetuated the dominance of white people in society.
House Speaker Philip Gunn and Gov. Tate Reeves have both said they would ban the theory from being taught in schools. Supporters of critical race theory said it’s a misunderstanding of the academic framework, which examines the role racism plays in systems like health care, education and housing.
Officials with the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) have maintained that critical race theory is not taught at the K-12 level.
The bill will move to the House for more work.
Mississippi Today and the Associated Press contributed to this report.