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Lawmakers task Ryan Walters with developing civil rights movement curriculum…

Yesterday afternoon, the Oklahoma Senate passed HB 1397 by a 35 to 9 margin. 

Dubbed the Oklahoma White-Washing of The American Civil Rights Movement Act, once the bill is signed into law by Governor Stitt, it will task Ryan Walters and the State Ministry of Right Wing Indoctrination and Propaganda – formerly known as the Oklahoma Department of Education – to develop curriculum that will teach Oklahoma students a very sanitized and likely incorrect version of the US civil rights movement from 1954 to 1968.

It may seem odd that we need a special bill to authorize the teaching of a limited yet important window of American civil rights history, but thanks to Kevin Stitt and the legislature enacting some of the strictest anti-CRT laws in the country back in 2022, it’s virtually impossible for any educator to teach or lead a discussion about race in Oklahoma classrooms.  

Here’s the basic gist of the bill from the Senate website:

Okay, so lawmakers aren't explicitly saying they want Ryan to “teach Oklahoma students a very sanitized and white-washed version of the civil rights.”

To make that conclusion, you simply need to have common sense, be able to read between the lines, and realize they’re putting a race-baiting politician with this hair part in charge of developing the curriculum:

Seriously, when you ask your barber for that haircut I think he gives you a free hood, tiki torch and plane ticket to Charlottesville. 

Ryan’s hairstyle isn’t the only reason he’s the wrong guy to develop a curriculum to teach students about the civil rights movement.  

As any informed, non-racist Oklahoman who subscribes to TLO knows, he went to a Conservative Evangelical school with a shady civil rights record, keeps books by Thomas Sowell on his bookshelf, and frequently resorts to race-baiting on social media.

For example:

Seriously, that’s the guy – or at least the puppet – who’s going to develop our civil rights curriculum. What’s next? Asking Carly Atchison to develop coursework that teaches students about manners and online civility?  

Even if you take Ryan Walters out of the equation, the law has its flaws. 

First of all, limiting the teaching of the Civil Rights movement to a 14-year period between 1954 to 1968 seems pretty absurd and short-sided for lawmakers who live in a state that was home to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

I know it’s an event that’s always been curiously overlooked in Oklahoma classrooms, but you’d think they’d want to mention it. 

Also, focusing on 1954 to 1968 – a period that spans Brown vs. Board of Education to MLK's assassination – ignores things like:

• The historical roots of racism in America. You know, things like slavery, the Reconstruction era, and the establishment of Jim Crow laws.

• The early part of the Civil Rights movement. At last check, the KKK and organized lynchings flourished in the first half of the century, and the NAACP – a key organization in leading the civil rights movement – formed in 1909. You’d think those might be important things for students to learn.  

• The Civil Rights movement didn’t end in 1968. I know conservative white lawmakers and their voters like to think racism doesn’t exist despite their own biases and prejudices dominating their thinking, but the civil rights movement, and the continued fight against systemic racism and discrimination in America continues today. 

Then again, what do I know?

I’m just a white dude who writes stuff on the Internet. I’m not a white conservative Oklahoma lawmaker sticking my head in the sand and trying to pretend racism doesn’t exist all while putting a guy like Ryan Walters in charge of developing a curriculum that teaches impressionable students the civil rights movement.

I’m also not a Black Oklahoma lawmaker who’s experienced racism. Check out what Senators Kevin Matthews and George Young had to say yesterday while debating against the bill yesterday:

Stay with The Lost Ogle. We’ll keep you advised.

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