Speed Reads

burning bridges

Anti-critical race theory parents reportedly object to teaching Ruby Bridges book

Anti-critical race theory parents in Tennessee are reportedly objecting to an English language arts curriculum that includes a book by civil rights activist Ruby Bridges, decrying it for not having enough "redemption."

The Tennessean reported last month that parents in Williamson County have been criticizing the "Wit & Wisdom" curriculum for allegedly not being appropriate for young kids and teaching critical race theory concepts. Community members and advocacy groups, the report describes, have objected to the inclusion of books like "Ruby Bridges Goes to School" written by Ruby Bridges, who became the first Black child to integrate a segregated New Orleans school when she was six. 

Robin Steenman, who heads Moms for Liberty's Williamson County chapter, reportedly pointed to this book and others at an education committee meeting, claiming its mention of a "large crowd of angry white people who didn't want Black children in a white school" was too harsh and pointing to the fact that it didn't offer "redemption" at the end, the Tennessean reports. Steenman also reportedly objected to another book about school segregation and expressed disapproval of teaching words like "injustice" and "inequality" in grammar lessons. 

Assistant superintendent of teaching, learning, and assessment Dave Allen, though, said "our teachers are reporting to us that our students are reading like they've never read before," and "I've received a flood of emails recently that said, 'Don't do anything with the curriculum. My kid's loving it," the Tennessean reports

The detail about the objections to Bridges' book, as flagged by Chalkbeat's Matt Barnum, sparked criticism, with journalist James Surowiecki arguing, "If you're against teaching kids Ruby Bridges' book — the story of a little girl braving mobs of angry protesters in order to integrate her local elementary school — you're not opposed to 'critical race theory.' You're opposed to America's ideals." Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones also wrote, "This is the end game. That's why these anti-CRT laws are memory laws."