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Metro Council committee opens discussion on critical race theory

Published: Jun. 17, 2021 at 11:38 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 12:25 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Metro Council’s Equity and Inclusion Committee held a special meeting Thursday night focused on critical race theory. The topic is timely as states across the nation, including Kentucky, are looking to potentially ban the subject from classrooms.

“It is a hot button issue right now,” Committee Chairwoman Paula McCraney said. “So we just wanted to have the conversation, open up the dialogue and see where we stand.”

Critical race theory examines the impact of racism within America. It’s been around for over 30 years, UofL Law Professor Cedric Merlin Powell said during Thursday’s meeting.

“What critical race theory tries to do is engage the current conditions to find their origins and then seek to dismantle the structural implications of inequality,” Powell said.

Earlier this month, some Kentucky lawmakers pre-filed bills which seek to limit how teachers can talk about race, sex, and religion in public schools classroom at K-12 public schools, colleges and universities.

“That’s what people are hearing most of all: the negative parts, or the anti-CRT,” McCraney said. “So the conversation is out there and instead of trying to just allow that narrative to be out there on one side, we need to have the conversation so people can really understand what critical race theory is.”

McCraney said those lawmakers were invited to the discussion Thursday, but could not attend. Greater Louisville Inc. President and CEO of GLI Sarah Davasher-Wisdom released a statement Thursday about the legislation:

“Legislation to limit discussions on race in public school curricula poses a threat to the progress our region has made in advancing racial equity and attracting and retaining a diverse workforce. As in the past, GLI does not support policy that restricts and/or limits any local school district’s ability to control its own curriculum. We oppose current and future legislation that jeopardizes our work to promote inclusion and attract talent and businesses to our region.”

JCPS and UofL are planning to offer a college-level “Introduction to Black Studies” class for high school students, where they will earn college credit.

McCraney said this is just the beginning of the conversation. She hopes people will do their own research to learn what it is ahead of the next legislative session in January.

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