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Tennessee Black Caucus: Don’t cut civil rights milestones
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
Published October 13, 2016

 

Tennessee state Reps. Joe Towns, Brenda Gilmore, Antonio Parkinson and John Ray Clemmons (left to right) asked the state-run Achievement School District to delay expanding into more struggling schools. (TONY GONZALEZ / WPLN)

Tennessee state Reps. Joe Towns, Brenda Gilmore, Antonio Parkinson and John Ray Clemmons (left to right) asked the state-run Achievement School District to delay expanding into more struggling schools.
(TONY GONZALEZ / WPLN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators on Friday called for a public response to help keep civil rights milestones in Tennessee history from being removed from the social studies standards for public schools.

Caucus Chair Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, called it “shocking” that the draft standards would remove items like tent city movement among black tenant farmers in West Tennessee in the 1960s, the East Tennessee social justice school that counts Rosa Parks among its alumni and the contributions of author Alex Haley.

“Haley’s `Roots’ saga captivated both the nation and world by vividly showing the struggle of African-Americans in this country,” Gilmore said in a release.

Rep. Karen Camper, D-Memphis said that it is “critical that we make sure our voices are heard and protect our heritage” by going to the Board of Education website and commenting on the proposed changes.

“We can’t sit idly by and let these changes occur without our input,” she said.

The state Board of Education is required under state law to review subject standards every six years. The current draft was assembled by the educator advisory team with feedback from educators who want to make their lesson plans more manageable.

The public comment period for the proposed changes ends Oct. 28.

The Black Caucus comments follow similar concerns among historians and politicians that too much of the efforts to streamline the standards would come at the cost of Tennessee historical events and people.

Tennessee State Historian Carroll Van West has called for the entire draft to be withdrawn.

Gov. Bill Haslam and fellow Republican leaders in the Legislature have also spoken out against taking too much Tennessee history out of the teaching requirements, especially as construction is underway on a new $160 million Tennessee State Museum in Nashville.

The proposed standards are posted on the State Board of Education’s website .

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