Democratic state Rep. LaShawn K. Ford said history classes in Illinois public schools lead to "white privilege and a racist society" — and he wants them ended until the state can come up with a history curriculum that better represents the contributions of minorities and women, WLS-TV reported.
"I'm calling for the abolishment of history classes in Illinois," Ford said at an Evanston news conference Sunday with other leaders, the station noted. "We're concerned that current school history teachings lead to white privilege and a racist society."
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Ford is sponsoring House Bill 49-54 to create new teaching practices in public schools, WLS noted.
"When it comes to teaching history in Illinois, we need to end the miseducation of Illinoisans," Ford added, according to the station. "I'm calling on the Illinois State Board of Education and local school districts to take immediate action by removing current history books and curriculum practices that unfairly communicate our history. Until a suitable alternative is developed, we should instead devote greater attention toward civics and ensuring students understand our democratic processes and how they can be involved."
Ford's bill would require elementary schools to teach students about the civil rights movement, WMAQ-TV reported.
"The miseducation of our children must stop," Meleika Gardner of We Will — Women Empowering Women In Local Legislation — said in a statement, according to WLS. "It is urgent that it comes to an end as we witness our current climate become more hostile. Miseducation has fed and continues to feed systemic racism for generations. If Black History continues to be devalued and taught incorrectly, then it will call for further action."
News conference attendees also want a history curriculum that highlights contributions by members of Jewish, LGBTQ, and other communities — and starting this school year, WMAQ reported.
Ford added that he's "also alarmed that people continue to display symbols of hate, such as the recent display of the Confederate flag in Evanston."
Last week, a woman confronted a group beachgoers for using a Confederate flag towel as they lounged on Lighthouse Beach.
According to the Chicago-Sun Times, the woman — identified as LaShandra Smith-Rayfield — shared video of herself telling the group the Confederate flag "is my swastika" and a "racist symbol of hate."
But as Smith-Rayfield railed against the group, a person she described as a man of color intervened and defended the group's right to use whatever towel they wanted — even if it bore the image of a Confederate flag.
The man said he served in the U.S. military "to defend this flag" and that she was the one who was out of line for harassing the group: "Just leave them alone. People like you haven't done s**t for this country."