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Civil rights activist talks critical race theory bill passed by Mississippi Senate

Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 9:42 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - In 2015, the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis honored civil rights activist Joan Mulholland.

Friday night, a group of female movers and shakers from the Mid-South participated in a roundtable discussion called “Unbothered and Unmoved,” sponsored by the Memphis Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

The panel featured one woman who’s been shaking up things since the 1960s.

“And I can’t march anymore. My knees are too old but the spirit is alive,” said Joan Mulholland, who first made her mark as a 19-year-old in Jackson, Mississippi as the first white person to integrate historically black Tougaloo College.

She also joined Delta Sigma Theta Sorority while she was there.

As a student, she was involved in one of the most violent sit-ins at the Jackson Woolworth lunch counter.

“Signing a petition, that’s not the same as taking direct action. You’ve got to do something,” said Mulholland.

Just 200 miles away in Mulholland’s old stomping grounds Jackson, Mississippi, Black lawmakers were compelled to do something as well. They walked out in protest Friday on the final vote of Senate Bill 2113.

The bill would ban critical race theory in all public schools in the state, including institutions of higher learning.

“The bill is not changing the way anything about our past,” said Mississippi Senator Chris McDaniel. “All this bill says is no child shall be told they’re superior or inferior to another. That’s all it’s saying. People come up to me and say hey, I heard about this deal they’re teaching in schools. How do we keep something like this out of our schools.”

Some of the Black lawmakers expressed concern that the bill could suppress teaching some of Mississippi’s history.

It’s a history that Mulholland helped to create.

“Critical race theory is nothing but U.S. history told for real,” said Mulholland.

“We haven’t solved all the problems on race in this country yet. It’s still alive and well, and I hope to inspire the younger generation to take up the fight,” said Mulholland.

Senate Bill 2113 passed the Mississippi Senate by a vote of 32 to 2.

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