A freshman Republican legislator in Wyoming suggested Wednesday that there are two sides to the history of slavery in the United States and that Black Americans are “stuck” in a mentality he called “worse than slavery itself.”
The Casper Star-Tribune reports that Rep. Jeremy Haroldson (R-Wheatland) argued in favor of teaching two sides of slavery during a legislative hearing on a bill that would rewrite Wyoming’s public schools curriculum.
“Slavery was something that shouldn’t have happened in America, but it did. But we’ve created slavery into a place that has created a position of being stuck, in my opinion, for a people group,” Haroldson told lawmakers Wednesday. “And that’s a sad place to be. And that was probably, in my opinion, worse than the slavery itself, because we have created a place where people cannot get free from because of their past.
“So slavery needs to be discussed,” he added. “It needs to be brought forward and the different views, that slavery was not maybe what it has been painted in this nation completely.”
Haroldson told his fellow lawmakers the bill was inspired by a lack of civics knowledge he had seen exhibited by Wyoming high school students, and as a response to what he described as a system that is “very much tilting more towards a liberal view of education.”
“I don’t believe that [students are] getting a fully well-rounded view of the founding of this nation,” Haroldson, a pastor, told his fellow lawmakers.
He listed a lack of knowledge of the U.S. Constitution among his concerns as well as what he views as an overemphasis of the subject of structural racism.
This prompted a colleague, Democratic Rep. Cathy Connolly, to ask him if he knew what the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was.
“I would have to look at it right now ma’am,” he responded.
“It’s the right to vote for women,” she said. “And it’s not included in your bill. So I’m curious about that.”