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Civil Rights Leaders Endorse Freedom to Learn Campaign

Coinciding with the 60th anniversary of Freedom Summer 1964, civil rights leaders are continuing their calls to reject attacks against hard-fought civil rights victories.

Civil rights organizations — including the National Urban League, National Action Network, NAACP, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and National Council of Negro Women — are doubling down on their endorsement of the Freedom to Learn campaign.

Kimberlé CrenshawKimberlé CrenshawCivil rights leaders have joined UCLA and Columbia University professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, co-founder and president of the African American Policy Forum, in rejecting efforts to suppress Black history within the national narrative. They include:

· Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of National Urban League

· The Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and president of National Action Network

· Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP

· Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable

· Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

· Janai Nelson, president and director-counsel of the Legal Defense Fund

· Maya Wiley, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

· Shavon Arline-Bradley, president and national chair, National Council of Negro Women

Crenshaw will be a featured at the African American Policy Forum’s 5th Annual Critical Race Theory Summer School — Freedom Summer 2024: No U-Turn on Racial Justice, July 28 - Aug. 2, in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Forum’s Freedom to Learn campaign, which also condemns attempts roll back decades-old civil rights victories, is a movement initiated by a coalition of civil rights, human rights, and other social and racial justice organizations to fight the policies and practices that harm marginalized Black and LGBTQ+ teachers and students.

“As we commemorate the 70th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education and the 60th anniversary of Freedom Summer, we face a frightening reality,” read a statement from the Freedom to Learn. “Progress toward more racially integrated and inclusive schools that can serve as ‘nurseries of our democracy’ is under grave threat by those who fear the changing demographics of American society and thwart the political power of people of color and other marginalized communities.”

The campaign said that book bans targeting Black and LGBTQ+ authors and efforts to sanitize and suppress curriculum are tools of a larger effort to erase the history of segregation and white supremacy with the intent of re-configuring democratic institutions in a way that undermines equity. It noted that extremist factions have outlined their strategy in a nearly 900-page manifesto, known as Project 2025, which details plans “to federalize the worst of red-state legislation to shut down public education, civil rights, and our democracy.”

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