LANSING — In the wake of the violence this weekend in Charlottesville, Va., state Reps. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) and Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit) are calling for the swift passage of House Bill 4293 introduced early this year that would mandate teaching African-American history in schools. Similar legislation co-sponsored by Rep. Moss and Rep. Gay-Dagnogo last session — which mandated the teaching of the Holocaust — was passed with strong bipartisan support, and became Public Act 170 of 2016.
“Education is the key,” said Rep. Moss. “People often fear what they don’t understand, and comprehension cannot come without exposure. What happened Saturday was the result of a group of distinctly hateful people being allowed to continually peddle their perverted version of history to support their racist and anti-Semitic views. It is important that children learn early and often about what has happened historically when humans let hate and fear get the best of them.”
Despite the quick passage and signing of PA 170, Rep. Gay-Dagnogo’s House Bill 4293, related to African-American history, has stalled in committee this session. Both legislators emphasized the importance of taking an action-oriented approach in addressing the hate that fueled this past weekend’s “Unite the Right” neo-Nazi march, as well as the attack on counter-protesters, which left 19 injured and one dead. They are now pressing for the bill to be taken up and passed quickly.
“It is critical that our state’s children see the real horrors of racism and anti-Semitism,” said Rep. Gay-Dagnogo. “America has been down this road before, except the last time we were faced with this type of rhetoric and action, we were fighting against it. Inaction now is complicity. Ensuring that students learn unique perspectives and histories of those who may look or seem different than them is vital not only to developing their sense of empathy, but their conviction to fight injustice and prejudice. Students need to understand that this is not normal, this is not OK, and this is not a moral path our nation can afford to go down. Legislators on both sides of the aisle are united in standing against hate, and instead promoting learning and the understanding of our differences, as well as celebrating them as a state”