YORK COUNTY, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — School lessons on slavery are taught nationwide in classrooms, but a South Carolina Representative proposed a bill that could change that.
Dr. Jermaine Johnson wants to ban educators from teaching about slave owners in schools across the Palmetto state. He said he was just trying to make a point.
“Anybody that’s a slave owner, that includes George Washington, who was a slave owner,” Johnson said. “That includes Thomas Jefferson; he was a slave owner. That includes Christopher Columbus. All these people that they hail as their heroes, the founding fathers, you know, the people that made America based on their opinions, these people owned slaves.”
He filed a bill on Tuesday that would stop educators from teaching about enslavers.
While it may be a touchy subject, it was a sarcastic response to House Bill 3728, “South Carolina Transparency and Integrity in Education Act.”
Six state Republicans proposed the bill to ban critical race theory, a way of thinking about America’s history through the lens of racism.
York County representative Raye Felder is the sponsor.
“The problem with the bill is that it’s so ambiguous,” Felder said. “That it leaves it up for interpretation.”
Felder’s bill prohibited several concepts that could be taught in class, like “one race, sex, ethnicity, color or national origin is inherently superior to another race, sex, ethnicity, color or national origin” or “an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment because of the race, sex, ethnicity, religion, color or national origin of the individual.”
But Johnson wonders: who enforces the correct interpretation of the bill?
“If the instruction is being taught up in Greenville, South Carolina — well, that’s a more conservative area, they’re going to interpret it differently than a place like Charleston or Richland County,” Johnson said.
One Fort Mill parent said she doesn’t want either bill; she wants all history taught in schools.
“I don’t want to take history away from anybody. Our kids need to know the history; they need to know the history of black people,” she said. “The American Indians, the Asians, I mean, they need to know everybody’s history here in the United States.”
Johnson said a situation like this prevents some students from learning about their history.
“I just want people to understand that it’s not that I want history taken away or that I want one side taught more than the other,” Johnson said. “I want all history to be taught fairly. The good, the bad, the ugly, the indifferent.”
Johnson said Felder reached out to him and offered to compromise about both bills — something that everyone would hopefully accept.
As of right now, both bills are sitting in the education committee.