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By Krystie Bunch
I urge you to not support the passing of House Bill 2988, which Representative Jim Olsen authored. This bill would effectively ban the teaching of the 1619 Project, authored by Nikole Hannah-Jones, which aims to teach the historically accurate events surrounding American slavery.
Representative Olsen is against the accurate retelling of the following: America’s culpability in the institution of slavery, that the White race was the unique oppressor, that the Black race was the unique victim, that America had slavery more extensively and longer than other nations, and that the primary purpose for the founding of America was the initiation and perpetuation of slavery.
As I’m sure you agree, this is troubling for many reasons.
It is historical fact that during the early 20th century, America was the leading racist jurisdiction in the world. As a result, the Holocaust was able to be implemented incrementally due to Nazi lawyers creating the Nuremberg Laws and setting out to legally disenfranchise and discriminate against Jewish citizens. We know that they studied American race law and harbored admiration for the Jim Crow laws, which had been implemented in America during the 1870’s and enforced until the late 1960’s.
If this seems far-fetched, we can look closer to home.
Oklahoma has already failed to teach accurate history for a century, now a legislator wants to come for Nikole Hannah-Jones
We just observed the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre last year after denying generations of Tulsans access to and affirmations of the atrocities suffered by the thriving Black community.
This was orchestrated by the local (White) government, citizens and KKK participants. It was the first time Americans were victims of an aerial assault on domestic soil. More than 300 lives were lost, and over 8,000 people were left homeless.
Five years ago, this was virtually unknown, even to local area K-12 students. Tulsa’s dirty little secret has now been exposed by numerous media outlets and we are now scrambling to address and control the narrative. It doesn’t have to be this way.
If Rep. Jim Olsen’s bill HB 2988 is allowed to pass, we will be setting a precedent to ban not only historical accuracy and education, but also, free speech, human rights and the ever-progressing endurance of an entire demographic of Americans.
The 101st anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre is right around the corner, and I hope this encourages you to continue looking within yourself to do what is right for the betterment of your fellow Oklahoman.
Ronald Wright once said “history is always repeating itself but each time, the price goes up”. May we take the time to count the cost.
Krystie Bunch is a student at the University of Oklahoma.
Editor’s note: The Black Wall Street Times has partnered with several organizations to bring journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones to Black Wall Street during the Black Wall Street Legacy Fest at the end of May. For more info, click here.