The SaveOurselves Movement for Justice and Democracy (SOS) joined many other groups in opposing the adoption of a resolution by the State Board of Education “preserving intellectual freedom and non-discrimination in Alabama’s public schools”. The Board held a hearing on the resolution on last Thursday and then on a 7 to 2 vote adopted the resolution and administrative rule to implement the proposal. The two Black members of the Board cast the dissenting votes on the resolution and administrative rule.
The State Board of Education made a vague statement in response to the teaching of “critical race theory” in Alabama public schools which sets unclear guidelines on the teaching of history in the state, which will limit a truthful consideration of slavery, the Jim Crow period and the Civil Rights Movement, in a state that played a major role in these historical developments.
SOS held a press conference in front of the State Board of Education building to explain its position on the State Board’s resolution and then participated with other groups presenting its position to the Board at the hearing. Attorney Faya Rose Toure, veteran civil rights activist presented SOS’s statement to the State Board.
In its statement, SOS states, “On first reading, this resolution appears to promote the humanity of all people. It states that white supremacy should not be taught and encouraged in Alabama’s public schools. But it insidiously allows teacher to disregard and even sanitize Alabama’s three-hundred-year history of slavery and segregation that instill white supremacy and black inferiority in nearly every child and institution in the state. Who will decide what is the respectable and responsible teaching of Alabama’s history of racial violence and injustice? That is the question and our concern.”
The SOS statement continues, “We are an interracial statewide organization committed to the ideals for the Declaration of Independence. For centuries, African American youth and Indigenous youth were legally denied basic civil and human rights. The denial of these rights was often secured with state sanctioned violence. After the Civil War, the promise of democracy for African American children was cruelly broken. Instead, those who committed treason to maintain the economic benefits of slavery were resurrected as heroes. Today, there are statues honoring the Confederate soldiers but nothing recognizing the two hundred thousand African American soldiers who fought to end the most demeaning barbaric slavery in human history.
“Unfortunately, African American youth continue to be adversely impacted from slavery and segregation. African American men are only 12% of the population, but nearly 50% of the prison population. In nearly every area of life, African American people are at the bottom. Coronavirus is more deadly in the school to prison pipeline as a consequence of Alabama’s racial policies and practices that still fail to recognize the genius and talents of African American youth and children.
“The stories of resistance to Alabama’s draconian laws and policies are also critical to the attainment of truth and reconciliation. Three major movements for Civil Rights took place in Alabama to challenge the wheels of injustice and segregation, yet most students know nothing about the movements in Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma. These stories are not critical race theories, they are based on factual events and proof of the ability of African American youth to resist racial oppression, but also drugs, gang violence and nonracial forces of injustice.
“To deny students of all races these stories is a grave injustice that keeps Alabama from being democratic and just. There can be no racial healing in the State until Alabama confronts its racial past and its clinging to monuments and policies that reveals its lack of will to recognize the humanity of all of its citizens.”
The SOS full statement can be read on its website.