The dangers of a short memory in recognizing — and fighting — hate

June 17, 2015.

Though it wasn’t that long ago, far too many Americans only dimly recall what happened on that date, when a racist murderer sat down to pray with parishioners at the historically Black Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., then pulled out a .45-caliber handgun and started shooting. He killed nine people who had welcomed him and did it without — not then nor in the years since — a shred of remorse.

Maybe some have had memories tweaked with the recent news that the Justice Department has agreed to pay the victims’ families and the survivors $88 million to compensate for a background check failure.

But those families needed no reminder and would give anything to have their loved ones back on this earth.

The Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Cynthia Graham Hurd, the Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lance, Susie Jackson, the Rev. Depayne Middleton-Doctor, the Rev. Daniel Simmons, Myra Thompson — they were caring community leaders and so much more than names scrolling across the bottom of a TV screen, as Hurd’s younger brother Malcolm Graham said in a 2015 Washington Post column about his sister.

She was a librarian, who surely would have helped high school dropout Dylann Roof with his educational challenges. Instead, the white supremacist, schooled by online bile, turned to violence toward African Americans. That I mention Hurd is no coincidence. I did not know her well, but we had met. And I do know her brother Malcolm, a former North Carolina state senator and current Charlotte city council member, who established the Cynthia Graham Hurd Foundation for Reading and Civic Engagement to continue her work and legacy.

Does it take a connection for Americans to feel?

Who is afraid of critical race theory?

Even as the U.S. will likely have a federal holiday to mark June 19th or Juneteenth — an important date not a part of many history books — battles over teaching race continue. After the murder of George Floyd, many sought to learn lessons that were absent in the traditional white-washed version of American history taught for generations.

But educating students about race — what some call critical race theory — has become another flashpoint in the culture wars pitting red against blue. Mary C. Curtis talks with education policy expert Jazmyne Owens of New America about why some states are trying to ban the teaching of systemic racism and what it will mean if they succeed.

POLITICAL WRAP: 100 Year Anniversary of Tulsa Race Massacre; Controversy Over Race Education in Schools

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – How race and history are taught in schools is the latest flashpoint in the ongoing “culture wars.”

It comes as states, including North Carolina, consider laws limiting the use of “critical race theory” in education.

Our political contributor, Mary C. Curtis, gives us her take in the video above.

What kind of country do Americans want? Voters definitely have a choice

OPINION — “This is the diverse party. We are a diverse country. I am from a majority-minority state, California. So as far as I’m concerned, if we aren’t talking about race, dealing with race and actually addressing the problems of America today forthrightly and strongly, we’re not going to get the support of people, and we don’t deserve the support of people.”

That was presidential hopeful Tom Steyer, when I spoke with him recently, during his second stop through North Carolina in two weeks.

Yes, there are primary and caucus states after Iowa and New Hampshire. And Democratic candidates are realizing success in those two states is not necessarily destiny. That means appealing to the diverse voters who will have to make peace with the candidates and one another by November, and realizing that as the primaries move South, West and beyond, inequality is an essential part of the debate.