Nikole Hannah-Jones, lead author of The New York Times Project 1619, is launching a free after-school program in Iowa that combines reading skills with black history, according to reports.

The privately funded program will serve elementary school students in the Waterloo School District and will initially have room for 30 children with room to grow up, the Des Moines Register reported.

While Hannah-Jones, from Waterloo, specifically said the program does not involve critical race theory, the program’s website describes it as “a liberating teaching centered on black American history.”

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, a Republican, signed a bill in June targeting what is described as “discriminatory indoctrination” in critical race theory – although the law does not specifically prohibit the CRT.

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“We don’t teach critical race theory,” Hannah-Jones said, according to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. “Parents will choose the program if they believe in what we are doing. And if they don’t, they won’t. I don’t understand how you can criticize an effort to help children become more literate and excel academically. “

“We don’t teach critical race theory. Parents will go for the program if they believe in what we’re doing. And if they don’t, they won’t.”

– Nikole Hannah-Jones, lead author of Project 1619

Nikole Hannah-Jones is seen in New York City, May 21, 2016 (Associated Press)

Reynolds, through a spokesperson, told the newspaper: “I am proud to have worked with the Legislature to promote learning, not discriminatory indoctrination.

“I am proud to have worked with the Legislature to promote learning, not discriminatory indoctrination.”

– Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds speaks in Johnston, Iowa, September 29, 2020 (Associated Press)

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds speaks in Johnston, Iowa, September 29, 2020 (Associated Press)

Conservatives have challenged Project 1619 as well as its aim to “reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of America’s national narrative.”

The Hannah-Jones school is named after the “schools of freedom” that arose during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s and taught black children black history and how to fight for it. change, the Register reported. The school’s colors – black, red and green – also mirror those of the black nationalist flag so that students can “evoke a sense of pride in their culture.”

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“We intend with everything we do with this (…) to teach children to fight for their own liberation and to show them that they have a deep and rich past of which they can be proud” , Hannah-Jones said. , reports the Registry. “The literature on this is very clear that when black students are exposed to black history, they excel – they do better, academically.”


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