All of Mississippi’s black Democratic senators staged a walkout during the vote on a bill banning the teaching of critical race theory.
Democratic Sen. Barbara Blackmon said “This bill is not morally right” before joining the walkout on Friday.
The vote on Senate Bill 2113 was 32-2, with the votes against it coming from the state’s only two white Democratic senators.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Michael McLendon, claimed he was not aware of CRT being taught in the public schools.
“This bill has no intent of changing history, whatsoever,” McLendon said. “All it does is say we’re not telling any child that they’re inferior or superior to another”.
McLendon said hundreds of people have reached out to say they do not want CRT taught to their children. “Systematic racism should not be taught to our children,” he added.
Local Democrats believe the bill is unnecessary and will prevent “meaningful discussions about Mississippi’s history of slavery and Jim Crow”, according to the New York Post.
The bill will stop public educational institutions from teaching that any “sex, race, ethnicity, religion or national origin is inherently superior or inferior”.
Senate Democratic Leader Derrick Simmons explained the protest by saying, “We cannot afford to spend our time taking up issues in Mississippi that do not exist”.
According to the Clarion-Ledger, the bill now moves on to the state House, which was already debating its own anti-CRT legislation.