TN Legislature passes bill that would ban schools from teaching Critical Race Theory

Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 5:49 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The debate about teaching critical race theory in Tennessee classrooms is making national headlines.

Wednesday night, the Tennessee General Assembly passed a bill that would prevent schools from teaching about system racism.

Republican State Rep. Mark White of Memphis says he supports the bill.

“We have a lot of good in our history. We have a lot of bad and so we can talk about it and we can try to move forward, but let’s not make any one race or sex feel guilty about what happened in the past when we discuss these issues,” White said.

There were heated moments on the House Floor during debate on the bill- one, in particular, sparking criticism.

State Rep. Justin Lafferty, R-Knoxville, defended the “Three-Fifths Compromise,” saying it was necessary to curtail the number of representatives in southern states and end slavery.

“By limiting the number of population in the count, they specifically limited the number of representatives available in the slaveholding states and they did it for the purpose of ending slavery.” Lafferty said.

Tennessee Democratic Representative Antonio Parkinson was on CNN Wednesday sharing his thoughts on Lafferty’s comments.

“There was absolutely nothing good about the institution of slavery,” Parkinson said.

“One good thing about what my colleague Justin Lafferty said is he spoke his truth,“ Parkinson said during his interview with CNN. “Whether we agree with it or not, that’s his truth. But I want them to know my truth also, so they can understand the reasons...the why...That’s the issue, we’ve missed the reason of the why people are speaking from the perspective they’re speaking from.”

The amendment to the bill would mean schools that teach about systemic racism would have their funding withheld.

The measure now heads to Governor Bill Lee’s desk for his signature.

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