Critical race theory (CRT) is explained as a cross-disciplinary intellectual and social movement of civil-rights scholars and activists who seek to examine the intersection of race, society, and law in the United States. But Liberals and conservatives are in sharp disagreement: is “critical race theory” a way of understanding how American racism has shaped public policy, or a divisive discourse that pits people of color against white people?
Critical race theory has been a hot topic lately as dozens of CRT driven incidents nationwide have been reported only in the last few months. In a first-time interview that took place few days ago, a Black teacher, former school principal was hounded out of two different school districts in a matter of months following several protests organized by angry White parents and conservative groups who falsely accused her of teaching critical race theory into their schools.
The victim in these two cases was the educator called Cecelia Lewis, a distinguished Black educational leader who had never experienced something similar in the past and is recognized as beloved teacher, worker and colleague. “If no one’s told you they care about you today, know that I do… and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it!”, this is what she said in a message to her students, who created a wall to honor her, when she was living her position as a principal in 2021.
Looking for a fresh start and new challenge, Lewis decided to move to Ga. as she applied and got accepted for a position within the CH school district that would bring her closer to the classroom as a coach for teachers. Due to her prior experience and excellence in what she was doing for years, the school district officials recognized Lewis as the perfect fit for a newly created position within the district that was focused on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work. Per the school district officials, the DEI position was created because parents, employees and students of color sought the district to hire an employee that will focus on things mentioned above. She accepted the offer and was hired.
Lewis’s husband got new corporate assignment and the couple had settled on a rental home. Their son was already living there for years and the couple knew the area since they had visited their son several times during the years. Everything was set for Lewis and her husband’s fresh start, but in a short period of time, things suddenly changed.
Per the Independent, Lewis began getting strange calls from district administrators, warning her not to mention CRT, a concept she had never heard of. Critical race theory, a high-level academic concept about the influence and forms structural racism, is virtually never taught below the university level, but that didn’t stop the school district from rallying against it, barraging the district with form letters. Someone from the area even sent a letter to Lewis’s old district, warning that they didn’t want a “Black Yankee” in their schools. People on social media began sharing “sightings” of Lewis, even though she remained on her out-to-state job position ahead of the new school year.
In March last year, parents gathered while the school board was having a meeting. Angry for no reason, the crowd gathered in front of the offices where the school board’s meeting was taking place started hitting the windows and repeatedly screamed ‘no’ as soon as Lewis’ name and her hiring was mentioned at the meeting. “Taxpayer-funded anti-white racism is still exactly that — racism,” a speaker named Stan Fitzgerald, a volunteer for a Republican gubernatorial candidate, said.
The angry crowd continued protesting and some of those who attended the protest threatened the board members reportedly saying “We’re going to hunt you down!” Fearing for their safety, the board members called the local authorities to assist them to get out of the offices after the meeting, while some of the children that were inside were crying. Eventually, Lewis resigned from the position.
Five days after Lewis quit her would-be job, the district’s human resources director forwarded a copy of her resume to the chief academic officer at his former school district, one county over. “Great catching Up!” he wrote. “Talk soon.” Officials with the CC school district contacted Lewis and offered her a supervisor of social studies job position. She initially accepted the offer, but she was ‘forced’ to resign again after the angry parents continuously filed complaints and she was sidelined at work.
“I did nothing but showed up to work, signed a contract, agreed to do what I was asked to do in the job description,” she told ProPublica. “And yet again, I’m getting attacked.”
Lewis’ full interview with ProPublica can be found on this link.