CHATTANOOGA—State Representative Yusuf Hakeem of Chattanooga said he was “surprised” and “disappointed” that the Joint Legislative Education Committee will not be discussing a bill to provide age-appropriate instruction on Black history to Tennessee public school students when it meets next week.
Rep. Hakeem said the purpose of the bill is “to ensure that every student would have the opportunity to study all aspects of our great American heritage.” He proposed the measure earlier this year, but it was sent to Summer Study, where he was promised it would be placed in “the perfect position” for consideration when the State Legislature reconvenes in January. However, it is not on the agenda for the Education Committee meetings next week and no additional meetings have been scheduled. Rep. Hakeem has reached out to Education Committee Chairman Mark White (see attached) and has yet to receive a response.
Rep. Hakeem said today: “Black history intersects every period of American history, and the history of Black people in America is tied to the history of everyone else. To NOT teach Black history is to deprive students of an important piece of the American story. Without required Black history curriculum, many Tennessee students might never have the chance to learn about positive stories in Black history, like The Tuskegee Airmen, George Washington Carver, Black Wall Street, or Madam CJ Walker. By leaving decisions on if and how to teach Black history to individual schools, we risk leaving teachers unprepared. I hope that we will be able to have substantive discussions on this matter soon, as promised, and that the omission is not an attempt to ignore this important issue.”