AUPresses joins 80 organizations, including the American Association of University Professors, the American Historical Association, the Association of American Colleges & Universities, and PEN America, in a statement of “firm opposition to a spate of legislative proposals being introduced across the country that target academic lessons, presentations, and discussions of racism and related issues in American history in schools, colleges and universities.”
These proposals are under consideration or already passed in more than twenty US states. Many include explicit efforts to ban the teaching of the award-winning 1619 Project, created by acclaimed journalist and AUPresses 2021 opening plenary speaker Nikole Hannah-Jones, and are also marked by a malignant campaign to reframe the important scholarly tool of critical race theory as a new white supremacist dogwhistle. While both the 1619 Project and critical race theory have been the subject of vigorous debate within communities of scholars and teachers, this is—and should be—true of all rigorous scholarship on slavery, settler colonialism, or indeed, any topic of human inquiry.
Attempts to ban frank discussion of our shared national and global past, or to legislate against critical tools of humanistic scholarship, are antithetical to the Association’s core values of intellectual freedom and integrity. Materially, our members publish serious and well-regarded work on slavery and racism in US history, on the impacts of empire and settler colonialism around the world, on critical race theory in legal history, and, indeed, the scholarship of several of the 1619 Project essayists.
A growing list of signatories will be hosted by PEN America.