GUNTERSVILLE — The president of the Alabama State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Benard Simelton, compared Alabama to Florida as he openly condemned the Alabama Legislature for its efforts to pass a law banning Critical Race Theory and other "divisive concepts" from the classroom.

Simelton made his comments during a town hall meeting in Guntersville where parents discussed their experiences and concerts of racial discrimination within the Guntersville public school system.

"There's a lot of talk lately about critical race theory, what it is, what it's not. The state of Alabama Legislature they have a bill talking about teaching slavery and those types of concepts," Simelton said. "The NAACP very strongly supports the teaching of history the way it happened. When you talk about slavery, it's something that happened in America, and we should not shy away from it in our teaching because we want our children to be taught the true history of what happened in America."

Senate Bill 247, which prohibits certain public entities, including state agencies, local boards of education, and public institutions of higher education, from promoting or endorsing, or requiring affirmation of, certain divisive concepts relating to race, sex or religion, has passed out of Senate and House committees but has yet to receive a floor vote.

State Rep. Ed Oliver (R-Dadeville) said the bill "does not stop teaching about slavery, bad history or that racism exists" but is intended to stop the spread of "a new woke ideology that divides people, adults and children alike."

Simelton, who graduated from the College at Mississippi Valley State University with a degree in sociology in 1976, said "real history" was not taught when he was in school.

"We're seeing that repeated again with such things as the anti-CRT legislation that states are adopting, and we know what's happening in Florida."

Recently, the NAACP issued travel warnings against Florida for being "hostile" to black people by banning diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies in public colleges and universities.

Simelton also called for more black teachers and board members at Guntersville City Schools and for current employees to undergo "implicit bias" training.

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