Analysis: Critical race theory a predicable topic at Neshoba

L-R: Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn, Governor Tate Reeves, both Republicans.

Mississippi Public Broadcasting reported that when Gunn responded to reporters’ questions after his speech, he acknowledged he was unaware of any schools in Mississippi teaching critical race theory.

Posted: Aug 2, 2021 10:07 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn each stood on stage at the Neshoba County Fair last week and pledged to prevent schools from teaching critical race theory, even though there's no evidence of concerted efforts to make that part of the K-12 curriculum.

Critical race theory is an academic framework that examines how racism has shaped public policy and institutions such as the legal system, and how those have perpetuated the dominance of white people in society.

Given the amount of attention the topic has received in several Republican-led states the past few months, it was a predicable that at least one Mississippi politician would talk about it during speeches at the Neshoba County Fair, where audiences tend to be mostly white and conservative.

“In what world are we living in where it’s OK to teach children that they’re born racist?” Reeves said. “In what world is it OK to teach children that they’ll be judged by the color of their skin, not by the content of their character?

Reeves continued: “That is not the education that we need for the next generation of America’s leaders. ... They should be learning the truth about the United States — that we are blessed to live in the greatest nation in the history of mankind."

Many critics say Mississippi is already doing too little to teach about the horrors of racism.

The stage at the Neshoba County fair is just a few miles from where Ku Klux Klansmen buried three civil rights workers after kidnapping and killing them in June 1964. FBI agents recovered the remains of Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman more than six weeks later, after a massive investigation that drew international attention.

A week after the bodies were found, Klan imperial wizard Sam Bowers had a plane fly over Neshoba County and drop leaflets that claimed, “Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman were not civil rights workers (but) Communist Revolutionaries, actively working to undermine and destroy Christian Civilization,” according to a 2019 article in The Journal of Mississippi History.

Castigating “outside agitators” is nothing new in Mississippi politics.

Gunn — who's widely seen as a possible challenger to Reeves in the 2023 governor's race — said Thursday that critical race theory is a “socialist agenda item.”

“This an attempt to introduce racism into our schools,” Gunn said.

Reeves attributed critical race theory to “Ivy League people” and said they are “some of the dumbest smart people in the world.”

Corie Jones, marketing director for the Mississippi Department of Education said Friday in response to questions from The Associated Press: “We are not aware of critical race theory being taught in any Mississippi schools, and it is not a part of Mississippi’s college and career ready standards.”

Gunn led the 2020 legislative effort that retired the 126-year-old state flag that featured the Confederate battle emblem — a change that happened amid widespread protests over racial injustice after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

In denouncing critical race theory Thursday at the fair, Gunn said “every society that has embraced racism has failed.”

“We know the devastating effects that racism can have on a society. We in Mississippi know firsthand how that can be, what the devastating effects will be,” Gunn said. "That’s exactly why we must fight against this attempt to reintroduce racism back into our schools and undo all the progress that we’ve made. ... What we should not allow our education system to do is teach that one race is better than another. Those days in Mississippi are behind us. Such teachings have no place in our school.”

Mississippi Public Broadcasting reported that when Gunn responded to reporters’ questions after his speech, he acknowledged he was unaware of any schools in Mississippi teaching critical race theory.

Mississippi lawmakers had already left the Capitol this spring before efforts to ban teaching of the theory gained momentum in Republican-led statehouses around the United States. Gunn said House members will introduce such legislation once the next session begins in January.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 515208

Reported Deaths: 10290
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34981557
DeSoto33342432
Hinds32718643
Jackson24896391
Rankin22553404
Lee16439245
Madison14949283
Jones14155248
Forrest13829260
Lauderdale12305324
Lowndes11348193
Lamar10687140
Pearl River9739244
Lafayette8867143
Hancock7847132
Washington7555169
Oktibbeha7228138
Monroe7055179
Pontotoc7026110
Warren6883178
Panola6783135
Neshoba6740210
Marshall6705142
Bolivar6468151
Union642898
Pike5941157
Alcorn5912107
Lincoln5539136
George510680
Prentiss507785
Tippah495483
Itawamba4877107
Scott478799
Adams4775125
Tate4774117
Leflore4747144
Copiah458095
Yazoo457892
Simpson4565117
Wayne443472
Covington434895
Sunflower4318106
Marion4295112
Coahoma4243109
Leake414090
Newton396082
Tishomingo386194
Grenada3786109
Stone365966
Jasper341266
Attala339590
Winston317992
Chickasaw317667
Clay312778
Clarke301695
Calhoun286349
Holmes272589
Smith269952
Yalobusha244647
Tallahatchie232353
Greene225149
Walthall222166
Lawrence220241
Perry214456
Amite210257
Webster206548
Noxubee188843
Montgomery182157
Carroll175241
Jefferson Davis174043
Tunica163539
Benton153239
Kemper145441
Choctaw137027
Claiborne134639
Humphreys132239
Franklin126430
Quitman107828
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson96934
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 847064

Reported Deaths: 16157
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1163702006
Mobile743001381
Madison53394737
Shelby38395371
Baldwin38140589
Tuscaloosa36096642
Montgomery34535782
Lee25639264
Calhoun22620519
Morgan22503408
Etowah20043520
Marshall18812317
Houston17754425
St. Clair16928358
Limestone16178220
Cullman16113304
Elmore15927295
Lauderdale15042307
Talladega14234301
DeKalb13033270
Walker12119380
Blount10756193
Autauga10531157
Jackson10191195
Coffee9431192
Colbert9356210
Dale9035192
Tallapoosa7283202
Russell709665
Chilton7077170
Escambia6961144
Covington6956195
Franklin6355108
Chambers5791142
Marion5428130
Dallas5299210
Pike5124109
Clarke485586
Lawrence4841130
Winston4784110
Geneva4649136
Bibb435294
Barbour370080
Butler3445101
Marengo342793
Monroe338066
Randolph337367
Pickens334689
Fayette331385
Henry320866
Cherokee319563
Hale318589
Crenshaw261577
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253355
Clay251669
Macon245465
Conecuh193262
Coosa185647
Lowndes178268
Wilcox178138
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139741
Greene130245
Choctaw93328
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