As legislators push so-called ‘anti-CRT’ bills citing discomfort, Black students ask whose feelings matter – 89.3 WFPL News Louisville – DC Initiative on Racial Equity
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John Woods always knew there would be gaps in his daughter’s public school education.

“A lot of stuff is being left out,” Woods told WFPL News.

So, Woods took it on himself to make sure his 17-year-old daughter, Brianna Woods, got the facts when it came to the experiences and contributions of Black people in this country. 

Landmark television series and films like “Roots” and “12 Years A Slave” were mandatory viewing in the Woods household. Brianna Woods grew up flipping through “The Black Book” by Toni Morrison, a collection of hundreds of photographs, art, poems, texts and songs that document the Black experience in America. 

Sometimes Woods still gives his daughter small research assignments — most recently to look up Benjamin Banneker, the Black architect who helped design Woods’ hometown of Washington, D.C.

“I’m really grateful that you did do those things,” Brianna Woods told her father. “It definitely rounded out the part of the education that I was missing.”

Historically, school curricula has excluded a large swath of Black experiences and those of other people of color. That’s beginning to change, especially in the wake of 2020’s calls for racial equity and justice.

But those calls have also prompted a backlash. 

In state legislatures across the U.S., conservative Republican lawmakers have filed dozens of bills that seek to limit classroom discussions about systemic racism and curb anti-racist initiatives. 

Mindy Fulner

Republicans in Kentucky have filed four. One, Senate Bill 138, has passed the Senate and is being considered in the GOP-controlled state House of Representatives. 

Supporters of the legislation say anti-racist initiatives in schools make white students feel guilty, and promote a “victimhood” mindset among students of color. Some say it even amounts to leftist indoctrination.

But some Black students, and their parents, are worried these bills threaten to roll back progress. 

Students speak out at the state Capitol

In a committee room at the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort in mid-February, Brianna Woods sat at a small table with her hands clasped in front of her. She read the statement she had written and printed out, glancing up between sentences to meet the eyes of the lawmakers who filled the raised dais above her.

“I am against Senate Bill 138,” Woods said. “I believe this bill will negatively impact my education, as well as my fellow students. … It discourages students and teachers from having truthful conversations about current and past events.”

Woods, who is Black and Filipino-American, decided to testify against the measure at the invitation of the ACLU of Kentucky, which also opposes it. Her classmate at duPont Manual High School, Brennan Eberwine, who is white, also spoke.

“Providing an insufficient history that washes away anything unsavory or attempts to explain it away as having no bearing on the present to make students comfortable is a substandard education,” Eberwine said.

Students Brianna Woods and Brennan Eberwine visit the State Capitol in Frankfort to meet with Senators.

What’s in the bill

Senate Bill 138, would require instruction to be consistent with a number of ideas. One of them: “that defining racial

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