Over the summer of 2020, many Americans had no choice but to pay attention to these issues as many people made their voices heard during protests and marches of the country's most populated cities. Now, the 13-member education board is at odds over social studies curriculum for K-12 public school students.
On Thursday, the state board of education member and Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson, who also happens to be the most vocal, took a strong stance against addressing the topics within classrooms.
The battle boils down whether to include three concepts:
- Systemic Racism
- Systemic Discrimination
- Gender Identity
Board members supporting the proposal of the language believe the words are factual and not up for debate, saying that children need more well-rounded lessons to process historic inequities.
But Robinson, the first Black person to serve as Lt. Governor in the state of North Carolina, and also sits on the state board disagrees. He believes the words could make students develop anti-American feelings.
"To call our system of government racist, that is an untruth as far as I'm concerned. I truly believe that is an untruth as far as history is concerned and it does a disservice to our students. It puts the idea in the mind of our children that they live in a nation that has promoted racism," Robinson said on Thursday.
On Sunday, the North Carolina National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) president Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman called rallies for board members to include those words.
"In actuality what is going to happen is it's going to enable our children to be exposed to the truth. The hard truths," said Rev. Spearman. "To support white supremacist policies, one, does not have to be white. For the Lt. Governor to come and say there is no systemic racism in our system -- it causes me to cringe. Until we face up to it and live up to it. We're going to be doing ourselves a disservice."
The board meets this Wednesday and Thursday about the controversy impacting 1.5 million children in North Carolina.
Robinson plans to bring a petition of more than 13,000 signatures to the meeting in support of the removal of those words. He responded to the state NAACP saying in part:
"Does racism exist? Of course. Has racism been "systemic" at points in our nation's past? It has. Is our current system of government racist? No, it is not. I would think the NAACP would be eager to work with the first Black Lieutenant Governor in our state's history to ensure that our public school students receive their public education free from anyone's political agenda."