We speak to legendary activist and scholar Angela Davis about the latest war waged by ultraconservative lawmakers against teaching the racist history of the United States. North Dakota’s Republican Governor Doug Burgum signed legislation banning the teaching of critical race theory, defining it as any suggestion that racism is systemically embedded in American society. The law prohibits even discussion of the law in state schools. Critics say the ban also endangers honest narratives of slavery, redlining and the civil rights movement. “What we are witnessing are efforts on the part of the forces of white supremacy to regain a control which they more or less had in the past,” says Davis.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.
We turn now to look at two education stories and how right-wing forces are trying to prevent students from learning about the climate emergency, as well as the racist history of the United States. North Dakota’s Republican Governor Doug Burgum recently signed legislation banning the teaching of critical race theory. Public schools are now barred from teaching students that, quote, “racism is systemically embedded in American society.” Critics say the law could ban the teaching of slavery, redlining and the civil rights movement. Even discussion of the law is now prohibited in North Dakota schools.
Well, on Thursday, I spoke with the legendary academic, scholar, activist Angela Davis and asked her about what was happening in North Dakota and other states across the country.
ANGELA DAVIS: I think that what we are witnessing at this moment is a profound clash between forces of the past and forces of the future. The campaign against teaching critical race theory in schools — now, first of all, critical race theory is not taught in high schools. And I wish more critical race theory were taught at the university level. But critical race theory has become a watchword for any conversations about racism, any effort to engage in the education of students in our schools about the history of this country and of the Americas and of the planet. Any discussions about slavery as the foundational element of this country are being barred, according to the proponents of removing, quote, “critical race theory” from the schools.
But let’s not be misled by the term they are using. What we are witnessing are efforts on the part of the forces of white supremacy to regain a control which they more or less had in the past. So, I think that it is absolutely essential to engage in the kinds of efforts to prevent them from consolidating a victory in the realm of education. And, of course, those of us who are active in the abolitionist movement see education as central to the process of dismantling the prison, as central to the process of imagining new forms of safety and security that can supplant the violence of the police.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s the scholar and activist Angela Davis speaking Thursday. Well, on the evening of December 7th, we hope you will join us with Angela Davis and many others for a virtual celebration to mark Democracy Now!’s 25th anniversary. Other guests will include Noam Chomsky and Arundhati Roy; Winona LaDuke and Greta Thunberg; Martín Espada, the National Book Award winner; Danny DeVito; plus musical guests Lila Downs and Tom Morello. You can visit democracynow.org for more information about the online event December 7th, 8 p.m. Eastern Time. We hope you will be there.