DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — Slavery has been called America's "original sin" - dehumanizing, horrific. So why is the Texas State Board of Education looking for a different word to describe it?
"Let's call it what it is," says Michael Sorrell, President of Dallas' Paul Quinn College. "Why are people so fragile that they cannot accept what actually happened?"
Sorrell is also the parent of a second-grade scholar - and a descendant of slaves. Over the years, he's also been a vocal critic of efforts to weaponize the school curriculum in the culture wars over race.
"Stop building movements on lies and just the simple fact that you are uncomfortable with the role your ancestors played in the truth."
Sorrell joins other parents and educators asking questions after word began spreading on social media that efforts to rewrite the state's second grade social studies curriculum included an effort to replace mentions of slavery with "involuntary relocation."
The Texas Education Agency and the State Board of Education have both taken to twitter to insist the claims are false. The SBOE Chair Dr. Keven Ellis insisted, "Our state's curriculum will not downplay the role of slavery in American history."
However, both agencies confirm the existence of a "working group" that had been looking at changing the social studies curriculum and was responsible for the proposed language that was rejected.
Dr. Ellis' Twitter post went on to say:
"Here are the facts: at our most recent meeting, the SBOE was presented with an initial draft of 2nd grade Social Studies standards from a review committee that included a section titled: 'Enslaved Peoples in America.'
While the proposed standards clearly described enslaved peoples in colonial times, the draft description 'involuntary relocation' for African peoples who were sold into slavery did not paint a clear or full picture. As a result, the SBOE voted unanimously to send the language back to be reworked. This board is committed to the truth, which includes accurate descriptions of historical events."
Still, Sorrell isn't exactly comforted.
"So, the question that we have to ask ourselves: where did this subcommittee come from? How did we create a subcommittee of individuals where no one stood up and prevented this idea from gaining traction?" questions Sorrell.
"I applaud the state board of education or the TEA for rejecting this idea. But I also want to point out the language that we choose. They sent people back to search for a different language - that's very different than sending people back with a message that we will not teach untruth."
The bottom line, says the educator and parent, is that no one benefits from being taught lies.
"For the majority of history, those who look different than white men have been treated poorly. These are facts. That doesn't mean we need to be imprisoned by them. It doesn't mean that we need to all of a sudden launch campaigns to just you know, beat up every white man that you see, but it also doesn't mean that you don't have to tell the truth."
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