Michigan lawmakers consider legislation to teach kids about African-American history
LANSING, Mich. (SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP) - The white nationalist rally in Virginia over the weekend and the deadly violence that ensued shook the nation.
Now, some democrats are pushing a bill to require Michigan public schools to teach kids about African-American history.
Democrats say the bill won't drastically change race relations in Michigan, but they say it's a step in the right direction.
"Disappointment, embarrassment, sadness," said Representative Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, of Detroit.
Those words, and 'sick' is how Democrat Sherry Gay-Dagnogo describes the "Unite the RIGHT" rally in Virginia and the the killing of a counter-protester.
"It's uncomfortable for people to have this conversation without many emotions that are tied to it," she said.
But the Detroit lawmaker says it's time for more dialogue, so she's trying to pass a bill that would require Michigan schools to teach African-American history lessons in every grade.
"I was proud to see that even our Governor tweeted out that hate has no place in Michigan. But we have got to take it a step further. We have to show black children, brown children, Latino children, Native American children, that they are a part of Michigan's history, that they are a part of our nation's history and they should be reflected in our K-12 curriculum," she said.
Republican Tom Barrett, of Potterville is also hearing a lot of concerns from voters who fear what happened in Virginia, could happen here.
"It's a terrible situation," he said.
But Barrett is reluctant to support bills that create more mandates for school boards which is where much of K-12 curriculum is determined.
"I would be hesitant to force things onto local school boards unless there is a good solid reason to do it," he said.
Southfield Democrat Jeremy Moss says exposing children to African-American history is a solid enough reason.
"Decent Americans want to think that Nazis and the KKK are from an era in history that is long gone. But a lot of those bigots who rallied in Charlottesville were my age and I'm 31," Moss said.
Gay-Dagnogo says she's not hellbent on more government mandates, but she says lawmakers need to stand firm to address polarization with respect to race.
"Hate and racism is taught. So if our children aren't exposed in our school setting to truth they would have the ability to push back on untruths that are perpetuated sometimes albeit from their families," she said.
This bill is sitting in the Education Committee and is waiting for a hearing.
Last year, a bill passed the Michigan legislature to require school districts to teach kids about the holocaust.
That bill passed with support from both sides.
To read more on House Bill 4293, CLICK HERE.