J. Tyler Franklin

A Democratic state lawmaker has filed a bill to require public middle and high schools to teach the history of racism in the country.

Louisville Rep. Attica Scott’s bill would require schools to teach about a list of subjects including the slave trade, the Civil War, Jim Crow laws, residential segregation and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Scott says a group of students asked her to carry the bill.

“I definitely feel like schools are addressing some of these issues differently than other schools. But this is a more robust dig and dive into the history of racism of the combination of racial prejudice plus power and how it impacts people’s lives,” Scott said.

Scott’s proposal comes after a handful of Republican lawmakers proposed measures that would purportedly ban critical race theory in Kentucky schools.

Kentucky Department of Education

State and local education leaders doubled down on their commitment to racial equity Tuesday, during an hours-long legislative committee meeting about critical race theory.

The decades-old theory, a critique of systemic racism in the legal field, has become a lightning rod for some conservatives who are distressed by diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in schools and workplaces. A handful of Kentucky Republican lawmakers have pre-filed bills that they say would ban critical race theory from public K-12 schools, colleges and universities.

Addressing the Interim Joint Education Committee remotely, Kentucky Commissioner of Education Jason Glass blasted the bills as “educator gag and student censorship bills.”

Jess Clark | WFPL

Two more Kentucky Republican lawmakers want to limit teaching about systemic racism in the state’s public schools. Nicholasville Rep. Matt Lockett and Rep. Jennifer Henson Decker of Waddy filed a bill ahead of the next legislative session that they say would prevent public K-12 schools and public colleges and universities from teaching critical race theory. 

Critical race theory is a study of how institutions favor white people, and disadvantage people of color. Those ideas have gained more widespread understanding as calls for racial justice mounted after the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black people in 2020. But, now, ideas about systemic racism are facing a conservative backlash.

“The language of BR 69 speaks clearly that the people of Kentucky stand united against this attempt to use our education system to indoctrinate our children,” Lockett and Henson Decker wrote in an emailed statement.

KET screenshot

A Kentucky state lawmaker has proposed a measure that would make schools subject to fines and teachers subject to discipline if they talk about systemic racism in a certain way. 

Fort Thomas Republican Rep. Joe Fischer pre-filed the bill ahead of the next legislative session. It takes aim at critical race theory: the idea that racism is perpetuated on a systemic level. The framework has been around for decades, but it gained more attention after last year’s calls for racial justice.

Now those ideas are facing a conservative backlash, including from Kentucky conservatives like Fischer.

Kyeland Jackson

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron says he doesn’t think systemic racism is a problem in the U.S., and accused President Joe Biden of aggravating racial tensions in the wake of the Derek Chauvin verdict.

Cameron was responding to Biden’s statement that systemic racism is a “stain on the soul” of the country—comments made shortly after a Minnesota jury found Chauvin guilty of murdering George Floyd during an arrest last year.

Cameron, in a Sunday appearance on Fox News, accused Biden of throwing fuel on the fire.

“I don’t believe this country is systemically racist. What I believe is this country has always tried from the very beginning to become a more perfect union. And certainly, we’ve had our challenges throughout this nation’s history, and there’s no hiding from that,” Cameron said.

Liam Niemeyer

Holiday light displays are spread out across Bob Noble park in Paducah, Kentucky, lighting up the barren trees at night for the community to drive by. The park has long been a gathering place for the small city, with performances at an amphitheater and swimming during the summer.

Shirley Massie, 76, sits at one the park shelters, proudly wearing a Paducah Tilghman High School football hat — her son was quarterback and wore the number “1”. She points out to the direction where her mother’s house was, saying how the park was nearby in her childhood.

“I never went to Noble Park as a child because I couldn't come over here as a child,” she said. “Jim Crow was really out there during the time that I grew up. But I think my parents protected me from it.”

J. Tyler Franklin

A panel of legal experts is warning that the city of Louisville needs to take legal measures to prevent further action by militia groups, including right-wing militias such as the “Three-Percenters” and the NFAC, a new national Black militia.

“This is not protest in America,” Mary McCord said referring to the convergence of opposing militias in Louisville Saturday.

McCord is the legal director of Georgetown University’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection (ICAP), which helped advise the City of Charlottesville in preventing militia groups from returning after the 2017 Unite the Right rally. She was speaking as part of a panel Wednesday hosted by ICAP and moderated by NPR’s Michel Martin.

Updated at 6:20 p.m. ET

The House of Representatives approved legislation Wednesday to remove statues honoring figures who were part of the Confederacy during the Civil War from the U.S. Capitol. The bill would also replace the bust of Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, author of the Supreme Court's 1857 Dred Scott decision denying freedom to an enslaved man, and replace it with a bust of Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Sergio Martinez-Beltran | WPLN

After hearing impassioned speeches from Black lawmakers, the Tennessee State Capitol Commission voted for the first time to remove the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest.

And, in a last-minute vote, the group also voted to take out two other military figures from the capitol’s second floor.

The initial proposal — of removing Forrest— has been championed by Black Sen. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, for years, as well as by activists.

“These monuments represent the values that unite us and the moral principles that guide our society,” Gilmore told the panel. “Nathan Beford Forrest does not represent the values of Tennessee.”

Rhonda J. Miller

As protests against racism continue in cities around the globe, a statue of Jefferson Davis has been removed from the rotunda of the Kentucky State Capitol.

By a vote of 11-to-1, the state Historic Properties Advisory Commission concluded last month that the statue would be most appropriately relocated to the Jefferson Davis State Historic Site in Fairview, Ky.

The historic site is 200 miles southwest of the state capitol, in rural Todd County, where the president of the Confederacy was born.

But some civil rights advocates are concerned that locating the statue at the historic site won’t add to a fair representation of Kentucky’s past - or present. 

Tennessee officials are expected to take the first step toward removing the bust of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest from inside the Capitol.

Gov. Bill Lee says he will convene the State Capitol Commission to meet and vote next week.

Tennessee law gives the commission the first say on the bust, but even if it supports removal, there’s no guarantee it would move. It would set up a much lengthier review by the Tennessee Historical Commission — deliberations that Lee says he support.

“This process is the opposite of the mob rule that unfortunately has been dominating the national headlines around historical displays,” he says. “I have confidence that our process here in Tennessee, with the capitol commission, will be fair and representative of Tennesseans.”


Protests across the state and the country against police brutality and structural racism have the attention of Kentucky education officials, including Ky. Lt Gov. Jacqueline Coleman. At Wednesday’s Kentucky Board of Education meeting, Coleman put forward several proposals, including statewide implicit bias training for teachers.

“I feel public education was made to meet the moment,” Coleman said, who is also the secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

“My first proposal is for the Department of Education to partner with schools across Kentucky to develop and implement a very needed implicit bias training for faculties across the across our communities,” she said.

Sergio Martinez-Beltran | WPLN

There’s going to be a new debate next year about the future of the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest in the Tennessee Capitol.

The announcement came on Wednesday afternoon after pleas from activists — and some Republican lawmakers.

Tennessee Finance Commissioner Stuart McWhorter, the chairman of the State Capitol Commission, committed to having a meeting before the end of February.

“There are varying and diverse and passionate opinions about this,” McWhorter said during a commission meeting to discuss unrelated matters. “So, for that reason it requires serious time and effort.”

University of Southern Indiana

The University of Southern Indiana is investigating a series of white supremacist flyers left on cars at the school’s campus in Evansville.

The flyers were found Tuesday on U.S.I.’s campus, and asked the question, “Proud to be white?” A school spokesman confirmed the flyers, and said U.S.I.’s public safety division is looking into it.

The Evansville Courier & Press reported the flyers contained a QR code that connects to the website for a group called The Creativity Alliance.

Tennessee's Republican governor, Bill Lee, is facing public backlash after he declared Saturday "Nathan Bedford Forrest Day," continuing a decades-old tradition honoring the Confederate general, slave trader and onetime leader of the Ku Klux Klan.