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Looking Up at a Courthouse with Columns on a Summer Day
Press Statement April 15, 2024

NAACP Sues Arkansas to Halt Anti-CRT Law

Looking Up at a Courthouse with Columns on a Summer Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 15, 2024 

Contact: Alicia Mercedes, amercedes@naacpnet.org 

Lacy Crawford, lcrawford@lawyerscommittee.org 

WASHINGTON - The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed an amended complaint and accompanying motion for preliminary injunction against the state of Arkansas. The complaint, filed by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, civil rights attorneys Mike Laux and Austin Porter, Jr. on behalf of Arkansas State Conference of the NAACP and two Little Rock teachers and two students, challenges the constitutionality of Arkansas' controversial "anti-indoctrination" law and the discriminatory treatment of the Advanced Placement (AP) African American Studies course in public schools. In addition to the complaint, the NAACP has called on the federal court to enact an injunction, preventing the law from being further enforced while the case is litigated.

A copy of the complaint can be found here and a copy of the preliminary injunction can be found here.

"From Arkansas to Alabama, the desecration of diversity, equity, and inclusion poses an imminent threat to the future of our nation. Make no mistake, these coordinated efforts to rewrite our history, remove our leaders from classrooms, and degrade our culture are a covert attempt to revert the progress we've worked tirelessly to secure,"said Derrick Johnson, President & CEO, NAACP. "We refuse to go back. The NAACP will continue to use every tool at our disposal to ensure that our constitutional rights are protected and our culture respected. This is what standing for community looks like."

The LEARNS Act, which went into effect on March 8, 2023, prohibits educators from promoting certain concepts related to race and gender, including critical race theory and discussions about systemic racism. Critics argue that the law stifles open dialogue and limits teachers' ability to provide a comprehensive education on critical societal issues.

"The Black community in Arkansas has a decades-long history of fighting for equitable education. Let's not forget - it was Arkansas children who shouldered the responsibility of integrating our nation's schools. Nearly 7 decades later, we carry the torch by fighting for the right for that history to be taught," said Barry Jefferson, President, Arkansas State Conference of the NAACP. "The recent enactment of this legislation and discriminatory treatment of AP African American studies are an unconstitutional attempt to erode educational equity within our state. But we know we're not alone, and we're determined to ensure the sacrifices of yesterday are not held in vain as we look toward the prospects of tomorrow. The NAACP is proud to take this fight to the courts and will continue to doeverything in our power to advocate for Black Arkansas."

The complaint also seeks legal remediation for the unequal treatment of the AP African American Studies course in Arkansas public schools. Despite being offered as an advanced placement course, AP African American Studies has been marginalized and singled out by State's decision to not allow it to be used toward graduation credit and refusal to pay students' testing fees in contrast to how the State treats other AP courses. This disparity perpetuates systemic inequalities in education and deprives students of the opportunity to learn about the rich history and contributions of African Americans.

David Hinojosa, Director of the Educational Opportunities Project at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law who has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, said, "Students should be allowed to learn about real history, not a whitewashed version. The most painful chapters of American history should not be buried because it makes some people uncomfortable. Only when we as a nation confront the true past, can we work towards a better future together. Frankly, it's downright offensive and unjust for Arkansas to be forcing educators to censor their discussion on racism and stripping the AP African American Studies course of all its benefits, including extra weight for their GPAs, and potentially earning college credit." 

To learn more about NAACP's work to fight back against anti-Black agendas and ensure educational equity, visit our website. 

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About NAACP

The NAACP advocates, agitates, and litigates for the civil rights due to Black America. Our legacy is built on the foundation of grassroots activism by the biggest civil rights pioneers of the 20th century and is sustained by 21st century activists. From classrooms and courtrooms to city halls and Congress, our network of members across the country works to secure the social and political power that will end race-based discrimination. That work is rooted in racial equity, civic engagement, and supportive policies and institutions for all marginalized people. We are committed to a world without racism where Black people enjoy equitable opportunities in thriving communities.

NOTE: The Legal Defense Fund â€" also referred to as the NAACP-LDF - was founded in 1940 as a part of the NAACP, but now operates as a completely separate entity.

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