On the issue of race-and-culturally-conscious teachings, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stood completely opposed to the type of racist, self-absorbed, and ahistorical beliefs today’s conservative movement holds about education.
Using the misnomer "Critical Race Theory," the conservative movement in recent years has deemed all kinds of lesson plans about social inequality dangerous to schoolchildren. As a result, a majority of Republicans nationwide said the lingering effects of racism should be taught “not so much” or “not at all,” according to polling from November.
As you traverse the web today, you’ll inevitably stumble upon conservatives’ trite misrepresentations of Dr. King’s legacy.
As you traverse the web today, you’ll inevitably stumble upon conservatives’ trite misrepresentations of Dr. King’s legacy. But it’s important you remember what he actually stood for — and what he stood against. And he absolutely stood against white revisionism and willful ignorance in education.
In his 1967 book, “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” King tees off on arrogant, willfully ignorant white people.
“Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance,” King wrote. “It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn.”
King’s college essay, “The Purpose of Education,” also reads today like a full-throated condemnation of the way conservatives view education.
Here's one excerpt, about the need for education to counteract propaganda:
To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.
That could easily be a denunciation of present day conservative school boards, some of which are forcing educators to try to show "both sides" of human atrocities — including the Holocaust.
Then there’s this excerpt from the essay, in which King explains how racism impedes a proper education:
The late [Georgia Governor] Eugene Talmadge, in my opinion, possessed one of the better minds of Georgia, or even America. Moreover, he wore the Phi Beta Kappa key. By all measuring rods, Mr. Talmadge could think critically and intensively; yet he contends that I am an inferior being. Are those the types of men we call educated?
If we aren’t careful, King warned, America’s educational institutions “will produce a group of closed-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts.” That was in 1947.
He couldn’t have been more accurate in his prediction.
“Be careful, ‘brethren!’” he wrote. “Be careful, teachers!”