Proudly Partnered With
In a truthful reading of history, the Black experience is central to the story of Virginia — and thus the story of the United States. From the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to Virginia’s shores in 1619 to our nation’s first two Virginian, enslaving presidents, Black people have shaped the history of the Commonwealth and our nation. But for too long, Black students and students of all backgrounds have been denied the opportunity to see themselves reflected in the American story, both as builders and as those who this nation has tried to break.
This determination to impose ignorance was on full display last month when Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin issued his first executive order prohibiting the teaching of so-called “inherently divisive concepts.” To support this executive order, he created a “tip line” where parents could email the Virginia state government to report any public school teachers they believed to be “behaving objectionably.” Governor Youngkin’s misguided and ignorant attempt to whitewash history and gag educators only builds on the legacy of discrimination against Black communities, Native communities, and other communities of color across Virginia.
Because we have the advantage of knowing our history, we know the governor’s efforts to prevent critical thinking and to erase the complicated and difficult history of Virginia and our nation will fail. But it is imperative that we respond.
The Leadership Conference Education Fund has joined with the NAACP and People For the American Way, and the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP to launch an effort to challenge Governor Youngkin’s false assumptions that some aspects of Virginia history are too painful to teach.
All students deserve access to an education that prepares them to succeed; to exercise their social, political, and economic rights; and to thoughtfully examine the whole truth of our history and how it reverberates today. To build an America as good as its ideals, we must first learn, reckon with, and honor our history until we grasp the full weight and consequence that it carries.
Tell Governor Youngkin today that students of the Commonwealth must learn an accurate and truthful history so they can understand our past and present to create a better and equitable future.
Tell Governor Youngkin today that Black history is American history, and we won’t allow our history to be erased in Virginia schools.
“There is no American history without African American history”
– Sara Clarke Kaplan, Executive Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University.