Texas Lawmakers Used MLK’s Words To Attack Critical Race Theory. MLK III Says His Father’s Work Actually Supports It

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tags: racism, civil rights, Texas, Martin Luther King Jr., teaching history, critical race theory

As dozens of teachers and students waited earlier this month to testify on a Texas Senate bill that would halt new legal requirements that students learn white supremacy is “morally wrong” and study particular writings by women and people of color, Sen. Bryan Hughes sat at the front of the Senate chamber, facing his colleagues.

In describing his intention behind authoring the special legislative session’s Senate Bill 3 — part of Republican state lawmakers’ ongoing priority this year to limit how racism and current events are taught — Hughes invoked a phrase Martin Luther King Jr. made famous in his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech.

“There's been a movement called critical race theory spreading across our country, into many of our schools in Texas, sadly teaching that we should judge a person by the color of their skin and not on the content of their character,” the Mineola Republican said, his voice measured and resolute. “It's obviously the inverse of what Dr. King taught us, and what as Americans we strive toward.”

Ironically, the bill Hughes was presenting actually seeks to remove an upcoming legal requirement that students learn the very King speech the lawmaker referenced — though it will remain mandatory under current state curriculum standards. Meanwhile, experts say the rhetoric Hughes and other Republicans use misconstrues what critical race theory, which isn’t taught in Texas schools, does.

And Martin Luther King Jr.’s oldest son told The Texas Tribune that Hughes and other state lawmakers are taking his father’s words out of context to defend legislative attempts the late civil rights icon likely would have opposed.

“Yes, we should judge people by the content of the character and not the color of their skin — but that is when we have a true, just, humane society where there are no biases, where there is no racism, where there is no discrimination,” Martin Luther King III said. “Unfortunately, all of these things still exist.”

Hughes’ bill was eventually passed by the Senate, but isn’t likely to become law because Texas House Democrats left the state earlier this month to deny the lower chamber the number of present members needed to pass legislation. Their decampment to Washington, D.C., was largely focused on an attempt to block another Republican legislative priority: a voting bill that would curb some local voting options and add new steps and requirements to the voting process.

Read entire article at Texas Tribune

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