Teachers and allies across the country pledged to teach the truth during the June 12 Day of Action.
They made their pledges at historic sites to provide examples of the history that teachers would be required to lie about or omit if the GOP anti-history bills become law.
Teachers organized these #TeachTruth events on top of teaching at the end of a challenging school year. We share here the national news coverage, followed by photos, stories, and local news coverage listed alphabetically by state or territory.
We invite teachers to continue the campaign all summer. Take a photo with your pledge at an historic site and share it with #TeachTruth. Read more. Join the next round of Days of Action from August 27 – 29.
National News Coverage
Teachers across the country protest laws restricting lessons on racism by Valerie Strauss in The Washington Post
Educators rally to #TeachTruth as the GOP tries to silence lessons on U.S. oppression by Adam Rosenberg in Mashable
Teachers Across the Country Are Protesting Laws That Stop Them From Talking About Systemic Racism by Samantha Michaels in Mother Jones
‘Children deserve to be taught’: Teachers in 22 cities are planning protests over laws restricting racism lessons in schools by Alia Wong and Erin Richards in USA Today (the Friday before the Day of Action)
Texas Bans Critical Race Theory in Schools a Democracy Now! headline
Why the panic over “critical race theory” is the perfect right-wing troll: Trying to debunk the lies about “critical race theory” is a distraction — but the hysterics have huge implications by Amanda Marcotte
Hosted by the Alaska Coalition of BIPOC Educators.
Teachers met at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to read pledges.
From an article in the Arkansas Times:
High school teacher Jared Middleton organized the Springdale rally partly in response to bills proposed during the 2021 Arkansas legislative session. While most of the so-called “divisive concepts” bills didn’t pass, Middleton said Arkansas classrooms aren’t safe from efforts to downplay or hide altogether the oppression and suffering of people of color since before our nation’s founding.
Students deserve “real history, not the glossed over, whitewashed version,” Middleton said. “Ignoring historic facts will maintain today’s systems of oppression rather than help us create a more just and equitable world.”
San Bruno, California
Los Angeles Area, California
In solidarity with the national day of action to #TeachTheTruth, I went to the site once known as “the Inkwell” in Santa Monica, what was once the “safe” beach for African Americans in the era of Jim Crow & fierce battles over the right to recreational spaces. Teach real history! pic.twitter.com/LuUH1mRP5n
— teach for liberation (@petateaches) June 13, 2021
#teachtruth Marrano Beach, on the banks of the Rio Hondo River, was an escape for Mexican Americans and other POC during the early 1900s, as they were barred from public pools, beaches, and parks. I pledge to teach the truth, even when it’s ugly and uncomfortable — for those who don’t understand history are condemned to repeat it. — marisaoste on Instagram
The rally in Washington, D.C. was held at the African American Civil War Memorial. Educators came from throughout the D.C. metro area. In addition, an administrator in town from Birmingham attended and an educator drove from Charlottesville with his middle school aged son. The MC was DCPS elementary school teacher Raphael Bonhomme. SNCC veteran and museum founder, Dr. Frank Smith spoke, followed by teachers reading pledges. SNCC veteran and Eyes on the Prize series associate producer Judy Richardson spoke about the mis-representation of Reconstruction in her textbooks. The event was hosted by the D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice and the African American Civil War Museum and Memorial. It was endorsed by Empower Ed and the Washington Teachers’ Union.
SNCC veteran Dr. Frank Smith spoke about a curriculum in Georgia and why we need to defend the right to teach the truth.
. . . they teach that when Sherman’s Army came through the south, it burnt down the great city of Atlanta killed off all the culture, ruined the economy, destroyed this whole thing. . . . Well, that’s one way to teach it. Here’s another way. When Sherman’s Army entered Georgia, there was an 18-year-old enslaved woman who was Michelle Obama’s great, great, great aunt. She had two children by her owner. When she heard Sherman’s Army was coming she looked over that hill and must’ve started singing “My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord”. . . Listen in full above and read transcript.
#TeachTruth proud to be in solidarity w educators around the country today and proud to work at a school named after a man who made speaking the truth his lifetime mission! @rccachicago pic.twitter.com/6s7NLtCBaN
— august hastings (@august_hastings) June 12, 2021
Black Lives Matter at School-Iowa hosted a Virtual Town Hall for educators, parents and students to discuss the impact of the legislation and honor the stories and experiences of Black Iowans. Black educators met to discuss common concerns first, then it opened for a general discussion about the impact of the bill with stories shared on a jam board (see below).
News coverage: Reynolds Signs ‘Back The Blue’ Legislation and Iowa Group Providing Support To Teachers Concerned About ‘Divisive Concepts’ Law by Iowa Public Radio.
Educators in Waterloo Iowa met at the Black’s Building in downtown Waterloo and walked to two more sites as part of the Zinn Education Project Day of Action, a call to educators to gather at historic sites and pledge to teach the truth on June 12, 2021.
The event was covered by two news channels:
|Waterloo teachers protest new state laws in ‘Teach the Truth’ rally by Daniel Perreault on KWWL News 7||Waterloo educators protest law that limits teaching some race-related concepts via KCRG
Little Rock, Kansas
Russell Springs, Kentucky
More than 3,000 people have viewed the Foster Woods Folk School eight-hour June 12 virtual teach-in. More than twenty educators and activists from across the United States — from Vermont to Oregon to Alabama — presented a five to 10 minute-lesson about a historical event that happened near them. Lessons included teaching about Fort Pillow in Tennessee, the Stonewall Uprising in New York, Chief Hokoleskwa‘s murder in West Virginia, and the Atlanta Race Riots. View via Zoom or Facebook: https://fb.watch/6hVdm51uTS/ and https://fb.watch/6hVixkjiQq/
About 30 people gathered at 1pm at a local park named after a man with an untaught, controversial history. The goal of teachers who organized the event was to inform others of these pending bills through colorful, engaging signs for drivers and pedestrians, through volunteer speakers for those assembled, and through prepared, informative literature for those unable to stay.
Educators and allies met at the Royal River, named for the Royall family who profited from slavery in Antigua. This spot was chosen because it was by the river and misrepresents events in 1688. The plaque additionally quotes Cotton Mather, “Thus was the vein of New England opened that afterwards bled ten years together.” The artery had been opened hundreds of years before, when the land of the Wabanaki Peoples was stolen. The stories we tell, and who tells the stories matters. —Sarah Norsworthy
Today, teachers are taking to the streets and social media to encourage everyone to #teachtruth. Speak up against bills that try and penalize teachers for including critical race theory in their classrooms. Talk about our state’s history in your classrooms. Teach your children about Black history. Today and always, I’m so honored to be in the company of such amazing teachers who are so dedicated to decolonizing their classroom and unpacking white supremacy. #ZinnED
Colleen Murphy Ayala pledged to teach the truth at the Hot Sox Field at Wilson Park in Galesville. It is an historic baseball field for African American players.
Left: The Boston Black Studies Collective went to the David Walker House on Beacon Hill in Boston for the #TeachTruth Day of Action. Right: Early childhood teacher Abby Saul.
A teacher at at the Sarah Doublet Forest named in honor of Sarah Doublet (Wunnuhhew), heir to the Nashoba Praying Indian Village. Read more.
Concord, New Hampshire
It was great to see so many people coming out to oppose HB544. This is a dangerous bill and we need to stop it from reaching the Governor’s desk. Call your reps and Governor Sununu. Tell him we don’t want the divisive concept language in our budget! — changeforconcord
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Teachers met at Prescott Park for an event organized by New Hampshire Leaders for Just Schools, Rise of Peace, and Racial Unity Team. More New Hampshire photos.
New York, New York
Syracuse, New York
@altmlawson on Jun 12
Raleigh, North Carolina
I’m proud to pledge to #TeachTruth, incl. the deep abolitionist tradition in NE Ohio that @schistorical helps the community to remember. @ZinnEdProject @RethinkSchools @BLMAtSchool — Sarah/Sarita/سارة (@Ms_DeBizzle) June 12, 2021
Sojourn to the Past students led the crowd in the first stanza of Lift Every Voice and Sing. Then they each took turns telling about the local history of the swimming pools. (This event was covered by local news.)
Cave Junction, Oregon
Teachers and students met near the Chinese Cemetery at the Waldo historic marker in Cave Junction, Oregon. “The original pledge read ‘We pledge to teach the truth.’ 16-year-old Rory added ‘learn’ and Kailen, 11, added ‘and long remember,’ and from this we created our pledge: ‘We pledge to teach, learn, and long remember the truth.’ Always!”
Japanese American Historical Plaza (Waterfront)
News coverage: Oregon teachers rally for honest lessons about race on KGW8
Showed up to say no to censorship, intimidation, and persecution of teachers who teach criticality and the truth about the history and current events in this country. #TeachTruth Please sign the petition in the bio and spread the word that we will not tolerate ideological attacks on educators or legislation demanding revisionism! — teacherbott
@rehanesian on Jun 12 #TeachTruth land acknowledgment Portland, OR
Block 14 in the Lone Fir Cemetery
Spent time today in solidarity with educators across the country pledging to #TeachTruth Learned the story of Block 14 in the Lone Fir Cemetary in Portland. Read more here. — @kerrin_moeller on Jun 12
Oregon Jewish Museum & Center for Holocaust Education
News coverage: Portland teachers hold events across the city to highlight importance of teaching history in Oregon Public Broadcasting
Watch five minute video below from the rally in Philadelphia. Produced by Gumbo Lab.
Billy Rutherford at the site of the 1892 Homestead Strike.
Bristol, Rhode Island
Providence, Rhode Island
There’s no compromising on the story of how we got here, how we all came to be in this complicated, contested place. Only by teaching truth do we have any chance at a future better than our past. So I stand with @ZinnEdProject and @BLMAtSchool to support all those who #TeachTruth — Taylor Stoermer (@TaylorStoermer) June 12, 2021
More than 50 people came out in the extreme heat for a history walk organized by Memphis teachers for the June 12 Day of Action. (Read about the plans here.) The Daily Memphian covered the action in Teachers at Grizz Prep, surrounded by history, pledge to ‘teach truth’ about race.
See photos below, including of the speakers Martecus Johnson, a student speaking outside the National Civil Rights Museum; Grizzlies Prep head of school Tim Ware speaking off of Beale Street (site of the first Freedmen’s Schools in Memphis); Reverend Scott Walters is speaking outside of the courthouse (at the site of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s home and slave trading business), and City Commissioner Van Turner is speaking at the site of the 1866 Memphis Massacre. Photos by Eddie Walsh and Alex Iberg.
Ignoring historic facts will maintain today’s systems of oppression, rather than help us create a more just and equitable world. We educate to liberate —Vahisha Hasan (@VHasanMIF)
The Killen Daily Herald reported on the rally in Belton:
The event was co-sponsored by Black Ladies Advancing Qualitative and Quantitative Change, the Bell County Democratic Party and Community Hands of Central Texas. Speakers included Jose Martinez, a college professor; Kayren Gray, an educational consultant and author of “The Road to Equity;” Chris Rosenberg, chairman of the Bell County Democratic Party; the Rev. Philemon Brown; Gabriela Gonzalez, a student at Killeen High School; and Jennifer Lee, an educator. . .
We should “fight back against fairy tales that cover up America’s original sin,” Rosenberg said.
Jennifer Lee said children are old enough to experience racism, so “we need to be talking about it,” She called HB 3979 “a love letter to white supremacy.”
She went into a description of the fascist movement in Italy during the 1920s. It began with education reform, she said, telling the children how great Italians were. Mussolini called it “patriotic education,” she said. Continue reading.
Photos by Richard Beaule.
News coverage: Juneteenth Festivities, And Teaching Race In Public Schools by Houston Public Media (June 18, 2021). Note: The interview with high school teacher Nelva Williamson starts at 26:16.
Teachers at the Lucy Simms Center in Harrisonburg, Virginia, named for a woman who had been enslaved and who went on to become an influential teacher.
This is the Westpoint Monument in Norfolk, Virginia. It is a statue of Civil War veteran Sergeant William H. Carney, the first black soldier to receive a Medal of Honor for his bravery. This is also the first monument to black soldiers erected in the state of Virginia, and one of the few in existence to this day in the South. Carney was born a slave in Norfolk, but escaped to freedom in Boston through the underground railroad. He joined the Union Army and was awarded the medal of honor for refusing to allow the American flag to touch the ground on the battlefield even though he was near death from gunshot wounds. His life, and the lives of countless others, are a testament to the horror of our past, the wonder of our present, and the potential of our future. No matter how uncomfortable it is we must continue to teach the truth! — Mykella Palmer-McCalla
Seattle educators met at the Medgar Evers Pool, heard speakers, and went on a history walking tour. Councilmember Kshama Sawant read a proclamation from the city for the Pledge to #TeachTruth Day. It’s official! The event was hosted and sponsored by Social Equity Educators, Washington Ethnic Studies Now, SEA Center for Racial Equity, and the Seattle Council PTSA. Learn more.
A group of teachers met at Silverdale Waterfront Park on Dyes Inlet. Silverdale was originally called Sa’quad, meaning “spear it,” by the Suquamish people.
Statewide, West Virginia
Tiffany Mitchell Patterson and Kassie Colon led a statewide mapping activity and online workshop in West Virginia.
News coverage: Rally held in Milwaukee to protest of Republican legislation in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee area teachers oppose GOP bills to restrict racial, sexual discussions in class in WDJT – Milwaukee and Milwaukee area teachers oppose GOP bills to restrict racial, sexual discussions in class in Channel 3000.
Today in collaboration with Equitable Systems Consulting we participated in A Day Of Action: Pledge To Teach The Truth organized by @ZinnEdProject and @BLMAtSchool. Connecting all our histories through the history of the Milwaukee American Indian Movement. #TeachtheTruth #NoLies
— Black Educators Caucus MKE (BEC) (@CaucusMtea) June 13, 2021
Educators deserve support, and our students deserve to be taught the truth. Some politicians would have us lie in the classroom to whitewash our history—not on my watch. Today, I join with @BLMAtSchool, @ZinnEdProject, and educators across the nation in pledging to #TeachTruth. pic.twitter.com/Jlz2zOw7As — Becky Pringle (@BeckyPringle)
Today and every day, I pledge to #TeachTruth. To be able to name, identify, and understand systems of oppression threatens the status quo. Truth-telling is a form of love. Let’s dream forward & build a better world. — Dr. Cierra Kaler-Jones, she/her (@_cierrajade_)
Keep the momentum going. We invite teachers to continue the campaign all summer. Take a photo with your pledge at an historic site and share it with #TeachTruth. Read more.
Join the next round of Days of Action from August 27 – 29.