Mississippi to teach civil rights history in all grades
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — Teacher John Paola says his high school history course in southern Mississippi would be incomplete if it didn’t include an emphasis on the turbulent civil rights struggle of America’s South.
For years, the auburn-haired white man has educated students about activists in their own state who led peaceful demonstrations, and the wrath of segregationists who channeled violence to repress social change.
Soon, civil rights lessons be will required for students from kindergarten to 12th grade all across Mississippi.
A civil rights/human rights curriculum becomes mandatory in all public schools for the 2011-2012 school year, five years after Gov. Haley Barbour signed the requirement into law.
Barbour’s comments earlier this month came just days before he stumbled into a controversy stemming from his own recollection of civil rights history. In a profile in the Weekly Standard magazine, Barbour made favorable comments about the White Citizens Council in his hometown, calling it an anti-Ku Klux Klan group.
Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi NAACP, said the curriculum will help students better understand current political issues.
“In many cases, what we see today concerning the treatment of undocumented workers is very reminiscent of the treatment of African Americans during and before the Civil Rights Movement,” Johnson said.
Not everyone is pleased with the new civil rights emphasis.