Contact: National Urban League
WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 4, 2023) – Today, leaders of the nation’s Black-led legacy civil rights organizations emphatically rejected the effort to suppress Black history and endorsed the Freedom to Learn campaign, a movement created to fight the growing disinformation campaign against the erasure of history and lived experiences of marginalized communities, critical race theory, and equitable legislation:
“On the anniversary of the assassination of civil rights icon and leader Martin Luther King, Jr., we come together to officially endorse the Freedom to Learn campaign – a campaign initiated by Kimberlé Crenshaw and Khalil Gibran Muhammad – that will work to confront the abhorrent attack on the freedom of the next generation to learn their collective history and its impact on the present, which is an assault on democracy itself. We are alarmed by the concerted efforts to discredit and censor vital topics such as structural racism and gender inequity.
“At this very moment, 21 states have enacted measures that censor the honest examination of racism and race in this society; a measure that has already impacted millions of K-12 and college students. Those who promote this extremist agenda of ‘anti-wokeness’ are undermining not only public education, but diversity and inclusion practices throughout government, the military, and corporate America. Vulnerable, marginalized, and historically oppressed communities are merely pawns in their game of extreme partisan politics.
“This movement to ban information is not only a detriment to future generations and their understanding of history but to the efforts of our growing multiracial democracy to combat systems of white supremacy. Our organizations understand that if we expect to be successful in creating equity and fighting for justice within the communities we serve, we must be able to address and discuss the very issues others are fighting to ban.
“As leaders of the nation’s legacy civil rights organizations, we understand acutely how our history impacts the present. Our children have a right to be taught the truth in our nation’s classrooms – all of it. Not a watered down, inaccurate, misleading, or sanitized version of it. It is a betrayal of democratic values for any responsible leader to actively participate in distorting or denying any part of our country’s history.
“That is why the Freedom to Learn campaign is vital. Together we stand against fearmongers who falsely allege that anti-racist teachings are a form of racism and stand for the honest reckoning with our history that is necessary to create an inclusive, multi-racial democracy.”
- Marc H. Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League
- Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and President, National Action Network
- Derrick Johnson, President and CEO, NAACP
- Melanie Campbell, President and CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable
- Damon Hewitt, President and Executive Director, Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
- Janai Nelson, President and Director-Counsel, Legal Defense Fund
- Maya Wiley, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
- Shavon Arline-Bradley, President and National Chair, National Council of Negro Women