SC Bill Would Prevent Teaching About Slave Owners, ‘Including George Washington’

YORK COUNTY, South Carolina (WJZY) — Slavery lessons are being taught in classrooms nationwide, but a South Carolina lawmaker has proposed a bill that could change that.

State Rep. Jermaine L. Johnson, (D-Dist. 70), wants to ban educators from teaching about slaveholders in Palmetto State schools. He says he is just trying to make a point.

“Anyone who owned slaves, including George Washington, owned slaves,” Johnson said. “That includes Thomas Jefferson. He owned slaves. This includes Christopher Columbus. All these people that they hail as their heroes, the founding fathers, you know, the people who made America based on their opinions, these people owned slaves.

Johnson introduced a bill Jan. 24 that would prevent educators from teaching about slavers.

Although a touchy subject, it was a sarcastic response to House Bill 3728, “South Carolina Transparency and Integrity in Education Act.”

Six state Republicans proposed the bill to ban critical race theory, a way of thinking about America’s history through the lens of racism. The CRT has become a major focus for some conservatives nationwide, although there is little evidence that the academic framework – the CRT is not a standard, teachable classroom curriculum – is officially taught in public schools. The CRT dates back to legal practices of the 1970s and aims to address injustice in the way the legal system has historically treated people of color, as explained by Middle Tennessee State University.

State Representative Raye Felder is the sponsor.

Felder’s bill prohibited several concepts that could be taught in the classroom, including teachings that “create a narrative that the United States was founded for the purpose of oppression, that the American Revolution was fought in the purpose of protecting oppression”.

While HB 3728 presents itself as being against the teachings that “one race, sex, ethnicity, color, or national origin is inherently superior to another”, the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina asserts that this “would have a chilling effect in the classroom”. and “to create a system in which any parent can claim that a teacher is breaking the law”.

It’s a concern shared by Johnson, who wonders who can enforce the correct interpretation of Felder’s bill.

“If the instruction is taught in Greenville, South Carolina — well, that’s a more conservative area, they’re going to interpret it differently than somewhere like Charleston or Richland County,” Johnson said.

Fort Mill relative says she wants neither bill; she wants all history to be taught in schools.

“I don’t want to take the story away from anyone. Our children need to know history. They need to know black history,” she said. “American Indians, Asians, I mean, they need to know everyone’s history here in the United States.”

Johnson says a situation like this prevents some students from knowing their history.

“I just want people to understand that it’s not that I want history taken away or that I want one side to learn more than the other,” Johnson said. “I want all of history to be taught fairly: the good, the bad, the ugly, the indifferent.”

Johnson says Felder reached out to him and offered to compromise on both bills — something everyone would hopefully go along with.

Currently, both bills are sitting in the education committee.


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