Joint Statement on Legislative Efforts to Restrict Education about Racism in American History (June 2021)

The American Association of University Professors, the American Historical Association, the Association of American Colleges & Universities, and PEN America have authored a joint statement stating their “firm opposition” to legislation, introduced in at least 20 states, that would restrict the discussion of “divisive concepts” in public education institutions. It is not possible to address divisions that exist, however, without an honest reckoning with their histories. “The clear goal of these efforts is to suppress teaching and learning about the role of racism in the history of the United States,” the letter explains. Education proceeds from exploration, facts, and civil debate. “These legislative efforts,” on the other hand, “seek to substitute political mandates for the considered judgment of professional educators, hindering students’ ability to learn and engage in critical thinking across differences and disagreements. . . . Americans of all ages deserve nothing less than a free and open exchange about history and the forces that shape our world today.” In total, 149 organizations have signed onto the statement.