Today in the Senate Education Committee, Senate Assistant Democratic Leader Eddie Melton (D-Gary) offered an amendment to House Bill 1134. Sen. Melton’s amendment would have required high school history courses to include an enhanced study of Black history, including topics on slavery, segregation and civil rights efforts. Language in his amendment mirrored a current Indiana law mandating the teaching of the Holocaust. The amendment was voted down 7-6.
Sen. Melton released the following statement:
“Black history is American history and it’s important that it be taught, comprehensively and accurately, in all Indiana schools,” Sen Melton said. “In current state statute, we require the Holocaust to be taught to all our students. My amendment simply mimicked that, mandating that Black history also be required, by law, to be taught in our schools. If our students are expected to learn about the evils of other nations’ pasts, they should be taught about our own. It may not always be comfortable, but we have a responsibility to teach Indiana students the good, the bad and the ugly of America’s history.
“As we consider proposals that allow parents to opt their children out of lessons that they consider “divisive”, I believe it’s imperative that it be made clear that lessons about America’s history, including the realities of slavery and segregation, are not an option. We shouldn’t be working to obscure, minimize or white-wash the past or keep it from our children. Not only is it a disservice to the child who won’t have the opportunity to learn and grow from those critical lessons, but it’s a threat to our future. If we refuse to educate the next generation about ugly aspects of our history, we are dooming ourselves to repeat it. By putting our teachers in a position where they’re afraid to teach about certain topics, we’re deliberately creating barriers that make it difficult to comprehensively educate students. Indiana students deserve to learn Black history. Black students deserve to learn Black history.
“My amendment was common-sense and simple, and I’m extremely disappointed that it did not pass. The fact that my colleagues rejected the opportunity to require Black history to be taught in our schools, during Black History Month, speaks volumes. It’s clear that white-washing our history, despite claims otherwise, is the intent of legislation like HB 1134. Passing this legislation was a mistake that will hinder our teachers and students, and I’m saddened to see members of this body support a bill that not only moves our state backward but is a detriment to future generations.”