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Lawsuit challenges Arkansas ban on Critical Race Theory


Little Rock, Ark.

By Kristina Dixon | Across Black America

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, like many governors in the old Jim Crow South, has passed laws that restrict how teachers can discuss race inside their classrooms.

A high school teacher and the families of two students at Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas have filed a lawsuit against the state over its controversial LEARNS Act, which bans critical race theory and claims that critical race theory is a form of indoctrination. 

As The Associated Press reports, the lawsuit argues that restrictions on what can be taught, instituted by Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders in 2023, is a violation of both the First Amendment and the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. 

One of the lawsuit’s arguments is that the LEARNS Act harkens back to the school’s ugly place in history; Little Rock Central was the site of a test of the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1957. The U.S. Army was called in by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to escort “the Little Rock Nine” into the building as they became the first students to integrate into the high school. 

In the state of Arkansas, we will not indoctrinate our kids and teach them to hate America or each other,” Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “It’s sad the radical left continues to lie and play political games with our kids’ futures.

Huckabee Sanders, like many governors in the South, has passed laws that restrict or otherwise impede how teachers can discuss race inside their classrooms. As the AP notes, Arkansas’ ban does not even clearly define what constitutes critical race theory. Furthermore, critical race theory is not a concept found in K-12 education because it is a rigorous field of study generally reserved for graduate-level studies.

According to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, critical race theory is an examination of how systemic racism works in American society. It noted that the efforts to ban discourse on racial justice, as Huckabee Sanders’ statement alludes to, constitutes an attack on the rights of students to receive a truthful education.

“Critical Race Theory recognizes that racism is embedded in laws, policies, and institutions that uphold and reproduce racial inequalities. According to CRT, societal issues like Black Americans’ higher mortality rate, outsized exposure to police violence, the school-to-prison pipeline, denial of affordable housing, and the death rates of Black women in childbirth are not unrelated anomalies.”

Tags: Kristina Dixon, Across Black America, Critical Race Theory