Mississippi Senate Passes Anti-CRT Bill as Black Democrats Walk out on Vote

Mississippi Senate Passes Anti-CRT Bill as Black Democrats Walk out on Vote
Stock image of a classroom. (Wokandapix/Pixabay)
Bill Pan

A bill that would ban tenants of critical race theory (CRT) from being taught in public schools and colleges has passed Mississippi's Republican-dominated state Senate, with most of the Democratic minority refusing to vote on the measure.

Senate Bill 2113, proposed by Republican state Sen. Michael McLendon, was approved on Friday by 32-2 in a party line vote. All 14 black Democrats walked out of the chamber in protest against the proposal, leaving their two white colleagues to vote against it.

The one-page bill doesn't mention the CRT by name. Instead, it specifically seeks to prohibit public institutions from teaching that "any sex, race, ethnicity, religion or national origin is inherently superior or inferior," or that anyone should be "adversely treated on the basis of their sex, race, ethnicity, religion or national origin."

In addition, the bill would ban public institutions from "making a distinction or classification of students based on account of race," except when they collect or report on data regarding demographics. State funding would not be allowed to be used for purposes that would violate the bill.

Senate Minority Leader Derrick Simmons, who requested a roll call before he led the black caucus out of the chamber, said the measure was unnecessary.

"We felt like it was a bill that was not deserving of our vote," said Simmons, reported Mississippi Today. "We have so many issues in the state that need to be addressed. We did not need to spend time on this. Even the author of the bill said this was not occurring in Mississippi."

According to McLendon, even though his bill doesn't necessarily mean that the CRT is being taught in Mississippi schools, hundreds of his constituents have reached out to him, saying they want to make sure CRT will not be taught to their children.

"Systematic racism should not be taught to our children," he said.

It is almost certain that the bill will get approval from Gov. Tate Reeves if it passes the Republican-dominated state House. Last summer, the Republican governor said he was willing to sign into law a measure to prevent CRT from "sneaking" into Mississippi schools.

"I am not aware of any school district that currently allows for it. Should that become an issue, I believe we ought to pass legislation, pass a law to make these school districts unable to teach CRT in our classrooms," Reeves said during an interview on The Gallo Radio Show.

"I'm willing to do it," he told host Paul Gallo. "We don't have to do it if no districts are currently operating. But if that becomes apparent, I am prepared to support any legislation that eliminates the ability for CRT to be taught in Mississippi's classrooms, much like many, many, many states around the country."