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In a powerful commencement speech at Morehouse College on Saturday, Maryland Governor Wes Moore urged graduates to fight to protect their history.
Moore, Maryland’s first Black governor and only the third in US history, warned of a “deep rot” spreading in America.
“What is happening now with our history is just the beginning,” Moore said. “I fear we are watching the early decay of a deep rot,” he continued.
Moore said this rot “threatens to hollow out our future by eliminating our past.”
The governor told the men of Morehouse he came to deliver a simple message: “our history is our power.”
Active attempts across the country by far-right politicians to ban the teaching of Black history are endangering communities, Moore said.
“This is not just a threat to our history, it is a threat to our strength.”
“When politicians ban books and muzzle educators, they say it’s an effort to prevent discomfort and guilt,” the governor said. “But we know that’s not true.”
“This is not about a fear of making people feel bad, it is about a fear of people understanding their power.”
Effort to erase history spreading across the country.
Since the 2020 uprising in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, a rash of bills banning books and censoring teaching have swept the country.
In Oklahoma, Governor Stitt signed HB 1775 into law shortly before the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race massacre. That bill makes it nearly impossible for teachers to teach students about the full history of Greenwood and the massacre that sought to destroy it.
A similar assault on Black history is taking place in states like Florida. There, Governor Ron Desantis has pushed such a volume of anti-Black legislation that the NAACP issued a travel advisory for those considering visiting the state.
The effort to extinguish voices and stories extends to the LGBTQ+ community, Jewish community and others as well. Last month, Governor Kevin Stitt blocked state funding in an attempt to shut down the Oklahoma’s PBS station. Reports show Stitt’s office cited a handful of stories highlighting the LGBTQ+ community as their reasoning for blocking funding.
And in Texas, teachers are being told to teach “opposing views” in lessons on the Holocaust. The order responds to a Texas law requiring schools to not “give deference to any one perspective” when teaching history.
For Moore and other leaders across the country, this moment marks and inflection point that calls for collective action.
Moore warns ‘a threat to any history is a threat to all history’
“Those who yearn to destroy history will not stop at our history,” Moore told Morehouse graduates. “They will go after the history of those we know too.”
“I’m talking about our friends in the indigenous community,” Moore continued. “I’m talking about our friends in the Jewish community; talking about our friends in the Asian community; I’m talking about our friends in the gay community; I’m talking about our mothers, daughters and our sisters.”
Moore went on, adding “I’m talking about everybody in this country who has ever been a part of the American story. And who we are watching the stories of those before us be wiped away.”
“A threat to any history,” Moore warned the crowd, “is a threat to all history.”