Educators Across the U.S. Pledge to Teach Truth: “We Refuse to Lie to Young People About U.S. History”

“How can one teach honestly about the nature of our society without examining how today’s racial inequality is a systemic legacy of this country’s history?”

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Across the U.S., lawmakers in at least 28 states are attempting to pass so-called anti-critical race theory legislation that would prohibit teachers from teaching students about the role of racism, sexism and oppression throughout U.S. history.

In response, educators across the United States are signing a “pledge to teach the truth.”

“From police violence, to the prison system, to the wealth gap, to maternal mortality rates, to housing, to education and beyond, the major institutions and systems of our country are deeply infected with anti-Blackness and its intersection with other forms of oppression,” the public petition reads. “To not acknowledge this and help students understand the roots of U.S. racism is to deceive them—not educate them.”

But the action isn’t just staying digital: This coming Friday, Aug. 27, Saturday, Aug. 28, and Sunday Aug. 29, educators and students in at least 115 cities across the U.S. have pledged to stage public demonstrations to stand in protest against the wave of bans on discussing social justice issues in American schools and workplaces.

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Belton, Texas. (Richard Beaule, Courtesy of Zinn Education Project)

The demonstrations—organized by the Zinn Education Project (coordinated by Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change), Black Lives Matter at School and the African American Policy Forum—follow the June 12 Pledge to Teach Truth Day of Action in dozens of cities across the United States.

“We need to tell students the full history. If we don’t, history repeats itself,” said Texas state Rep. Erin Zwiener (D), who has worked as an educator. “We don’t need to be scared of telling the full truth. We should be confident that we can tell that story and hold that complexity, instead of needing to deliver a sanitized narrative and pretend that our country and our state are faultless. It’s about knowing our full story, and knowing the progress that has been made so that we can protect it … Fragility really gets in the way of our ability to have full conversations.”

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Educators rallied to pledge to teach the truth in Concord, New Hampshire. (Troy Cromwell, Courtesy of Zinn Education Project)

Head here to for a step-by-step guide on how to plan or join an action in your city.

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About

Roxy Szal is the digital editor at Ms. and a producer on the Ms. podcast "On the Issues With Michele Goodwin." Before becoming a journalist, she was a Texas public school English teacher. She is based in Austin, Texas. Find her on Twitter @roxyszal.