Updated: May 24
The Celebrate! Maya Project is a nonpartisan, nonpolitical organization whose mission is to serve the children of Arkansas through literacy, poetry, history, and the arts. In that vein, we are making known, our position against the current bill HB1231 in consideration by the Arkansas Legislature.
Dr. Maya Angelou, whose name we bear and whose life we celebrate, stood for justice and humanity for all. Because her life journey was fraught with such inhumanity and cruelties, she spent her life advocating for education and history in our schools. She understood that without our history, Black history, we as a people are lost. One only must read Dr. Angelou’s poetry and literature to realize how her history, our history is interwoven inside her art. For a child to fully appreciate their worth, they must be taught their history. To take that opportunity away, is a blatant devaluation of their worth.
The Celebrate! Maya Project strongly believes this bill would restrict the teaching of truth of our children’s heritage and America’s history. We also believe this would prove detrimental to children of all races, particularly Black and white children- whose histories are so interwoven.
We speak out against the No Hate bill, not on political grounds, but, on the grounds of humanity. We believe this bill is the antithesis of the efforts by scholars, historians and writers who seek to “Right” our history, and move our country forward, rather than backward.
We believe the erasure of the 1619 Project, as HB1231 suggests, would erase all that came after it. All of our history. We strongly believe that, rather than promoting division between the races, the 1619 Project promotes understanding and truth of our history. We believe that just as it is critical that we continue to teach the history of Native Americans, and the Holocaust, it is also critical that Black children learn the truth of their own history of enslavement, lynchings and systemic social injustice. These undeniable truths must be addressed if we are ever to reach true reconciliation between the races, rather than continued division and distrust.
Rather than restrict truth, let us vow to teach love, justice and acceptance for all, and continue to work to rectify our historical sins and shortcomings that left us all less than God would have us be.