Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans demand the Biden administration revoke federal grants from schools that include the 1619 project in their curriculum

Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., listens as the Senate Rules Committee holds a hearing on the “For the People Act,” which would expand access to voting and other voting reforms, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, March 24, 2021.

  • Sen. Mitch McConnell urged the Education Department to avoid support for the 1619 Project.
  • In a letter, he and dozens of other Senate Republicans said the project is a attempt at historical “revisionism.”
  • The project seeks to explain how the experiences of Africans who appeared on US soil in 1619 shaped systemic inequalities still in place today.
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Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urged Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to encourage public schools to strip from their curricula projects that he claims promotes “revisionism” of US history.

In a letter dated April 29, McConnell and 38 other Senate Republicans specifically referenced the New York Times’ 1619 Project, created to mark the date Africans arrived on American grounds. The project’s goal to is place “the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.”

McConnell said the 1619 Project and other programs strive to “reorient” US history “away from their intended purposes toward a politicized and divisive agenda.”

“Actual, trained, credentialed historians with diverse political views have debunked the project’s many factual and historical errors, such as the bizarre and inaccurate notion that preserving slavery was a primary driver of the American Revolution,” the letter says.

Since its 2019 launch, the project has received criticism and pushback, namely from Republican lawmakers and white historians.

Some states have begun to implement the project in their curriculum. But the Education Department has not directly told public schools to use or incorporate it. Usually, school curriculum falls at the discretion of state governments rather than any federal agency.

But under President Joe Biden, the Education Department has floated the possibility of offering grants to schools that include the 1619 Project and similar materials in their learning plans.

“We request that you withdraw these Proposed Priorities and refocus on civic education and American history programs that will empower future generations of citizens to continue making our nation the greatest force for good in human history,” the letter says.

The Education Department did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. The department is taking comments on the proposed grants until until May 19.

In a statement to the Hill, an Education Department spokesperson characterized the inclusion of materials like the 1619 Project in school curricula as a chance to take seriously the country’s history of systemic inequality and racism.

“The background of the Notice of Proposed Priorities includes examples of how institutions and individuals are finally acknowledging the legacy of systemic inequities in this country and paying attention to it,” the spokesperson said. “The Department welcomes comments on the Proposed Priorities until May 19, 2021.”

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Sen. Lindsey Graham says systemic racism doesn’t exist in the United States

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol January 7, 2021 in Washington, DC.

  • In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said systemic racism does not exist in the US.
  • “The vice president is of African American-Indian descent,” he said. “So our systems are not racist.”
  • Systemic racism is known to benefit white people across American institutions like law enforcement and education.
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Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Sunday denied that systemic racism exists in the United States.

Asked by Fox News’ Chris Wallace whether systemic racism exists across American institutions, Graham said no.

“Not in my opinion. We just elected a two-term African-American president,” he said, referring to former President Barack Obama, who was in office from January 2009 to January 2017.

“The vice president is of African American-Indian descent,” he continued, referring to Kamala Harris. “So our systems are not racist. America’s not a racist country.”

Extensive research and data illustrate how systemic racism in the United States makes basic experiences like banking, education, and interactions with law enforcement vastly different for people of color compared to white people.

Wallace asked Graham about systemic racism specifically within policing, which Graham also denied.

“Within every society, you have bad actors. The Chauvin trial was a just result,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”

The trial of Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, just ended in his conviction.

Floyd died on May 25 during an arrest, and video shows that he repeatedly said he could not breathe while trapped under Chauvin’s weight.

Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison for the second-degree murder charge. He also faces up to 25 years for the third-degree murder charge and up to 10 years for second-degree manslaughter. Because Chauvin was convicted of all charges, he will be sentenced on the top charge of second-degree murder. His sentencing is scheduled for June.

This is not the first time Graham has made controversial remarks about racism and people of color.

Last October, Graham said Black people are safe in South Carolina but only if they are not liberal.

“I care about everybody,” Graham said, speaking at a forum for South Carolina Senate candidates. “If you’re a young African American, an immigrant, you can go anywhere in this state. You just need to be conservative, not liberal.”

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A new study found that Black women are 3 times more likely to die from COVID-19 when compared to white men

Florida Coronavirus Testing
  • A new study found that Black women are three times likelier than white men to die from COVID-19.
  • The findings underscore systemic inequalities that make people of color more vulnerable to COVID-19.
  • Data released last year showed Black people were also twice as likely as white people to contract the virus.
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New research suggests Black women are dying from the coronavirus at higher rates than any other demographic in the US, except Black men.

A team of university researchers from schools all around the country published an analysis earlier this week that found Black women are more than three times likelier to die from COVID-19 than white men.

The study, published in the Journal of Internal Medicine, examined mortality patterns in Georgia and Michigan. Researchers sorted their findings by race and gender.

“The deaths we see in the pandemic reflect pre-existing structural inequities; after the pandemic is gone, those will still be there,” Heather Shattuck-Heidorn, assistant professor of gender and women studies at the University of Maine and the study’s senior author, said in an interview on CBS MoneyWatch.

“Whatever is going on is probably not linked to the X chromosome or the Y chromosome,” Shattuck-Heidorn added.

The coronavirus pandemic has been particularly hard on Black people, studies show.

An analysis published November in the journal EClinical Medicine, for example, found that Black people in both the US and the UK were twice as likely as white people to contract the coronavirus.

The findings underscore systemic inequalities that make people of color more vulnerable to COVID-19 and more likely to experience serious illness if they do get sick.

“The clear evidence of increased risk of infection amongst ethnic minority groups is of urgent public health importance,” Dr. Shirley Sze, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) academic clinical lecturer and a lead author of the paper, said.

“We must work to minimize exposure to the virus in these at-risk groups by facilitating their timely access to healthcare resources and target the social and structural disparities that contribute to health inequalities,” Sze continued.

And unemployment data consistently shows that Black women are among the hardest hit by the economic uncertainties brought on by the pandemic.

According to data from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s nonprofit, Lean In, a survey from last year of more than 2,600 people found that Black women are twice as likely as white men to say that they’d either been laid off, furloughed, or had their hours or pay reduced because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Insider’s Anna Medaris Miller, Marguerite Ward, and Tyler Sonnemaker contributed to this report.

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