Reeves signs law banning critical race theory in schools

Published 11:00 am Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill Monday to limit how race can be discussed in classrooms, and it became law immediately.

“Contrary to what some critics may claim, this bill in no way, in no shape and in no form prohibits the teaching of history,” Republican Reeves said in a video posted on social media. “Any claim that this bill will somehow stop Mississippi kids from learning about American history is just flat-out wrong.”

The short title of Senate Bill 2113 says it would prohibit “critical race theory.” The main text of the legislation does not mention or define the theory, and many supporters of the bill also have said they cannot define it.

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The new law says no school, community college or university could teach that any “sex, race, ethnicity, religion or national origin is inherently superior or inferior.”

The Republican-controlled House voted 75-43 to pass the bill March 3 after a six-hour debate in which several black lawmakers gave impassioned speeches in opposition. They said the legislation could squelch honest discussion about the harmful effects of racism because parents could complain if history lessons make white children uncomfortable.

When the bill passed the Republican-controlled Senate in January, all of the black senators withheld their votes and walked out in protest.

Republicans across the country have been raising money by saying critical race theory is a threat and multiple Republican-led states have banned or limited the teaching of critical race theory or similar concepts through laws or administrative actions.

Critical race theory is an academic framework that says it 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.

Mississippi Superintendent of Education Carey Wright said critical race theory is not taught in the state’s schools. The University of Mississippi law school offers an elective class on the theory.

“Our bill that passed through the House and Senate states that nobody in the state of Mississippi can teach that any race is superior to another,” Rep. Becky Currie, District 92, said Monday. “I believe that this is exactly what needed to be done. It is not like other Critical Race bills that have been passed throughout the country. We just don’t believe that anyone is better than anyone else. It has been said that nobody was teaching this in Mississippi and we are just looking for a problem to solve, but the chairman of education has received videos of teachers teaching CRT in different areas in the state and has received numerous parent complaints. I am glad to report this has not been in our area.”

Mississippi has the highest percentage of black residents of any state — about 38 percent. Along with other states in the Deep South, including neighboring Alabama, it was a crucible of the civil rights movement.


The Associated Press contributed to this story.