It may have taken five years, but the civil rights movement is now to be taught in Mississippi schools. Half a decade ago, a law was finally passed to do so. A civil rights/human rights curriculum has now become mandatory in all public schools for the 2011-2012 school year five years after Gov. Haley Barbour signed the requirement into law.
Prior, the curriculum did not truly include an emphasis on America’s civil rights struggle. According to state officials, Mississippi may be the first state to require civil rights studies throughout all grades in its public school systems. Mississippi education officials say the change was to be implemented in 2011.
“This accomplishment is a major feat and a movement within itself, especially for African-American children. In today’s world, our youth are so comfortable and often exhibit as sense of entitlement without knowing or acknowledging the struggles that enabled them to live as they do,” says education specialist Bisa Batten Lewis, Ed.D, Founder & Managing Partner, Ideal Early Learning, LLC. “Mississippi teachers should take this opportunity to remind youth of today of the ‘old’ Mississippi using innovative strategies of comparison, role playing, fine art expressions, literature and rhyme to illustrate to students the history and geographic and subliminal significance of their region.”
In order to include the vital history, it took the state time to include the entire school system. “The state of Mississippi was a major participant in the Civil Rights Movement – both positively and negatively. Just like in any major organization or corporation, time is a major factor in making strides, especially when there are so many painful and controversial memories associated with an endeavor,” says Lewis. “Proposals and bills often sit on desks for years, until the ‘powers that be’ that are most against the change have retired or gone to glory. So, my perspective is that all this school system needed was time – for power and culture to evolve, radicals to age, hearts to open, fright to subside, and new leadership to emerge,” she says.