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, reports NPR.
The state superintendent of education has said critical race theory is not being taught in Mississippi schools and legislators have offered no evidence to show it is.
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.”
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.