This post was originally published on Afro.

Teachers, students, and parents across the D.M.V. will gather June 12 for a truth and justice event at the African American Civil War Memorial for a final lesson about what it means to “teach the truth” before school is out for the summer. 

The June 12, Day of Action education event is being sponsored locally by D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice (DCAESJ) and nationally by the Zinn Education Project and Black Lives Matter at School.

“We are concerned about the growing number of bills being pushed through state legislatures that restrict what we can teach in the classroom about race and the truth of historical events in the United States,” said DCAESJ president, Deborah Menkart.

At least fifteen states have introduced legislation restricting teachers’ ability to discuss concepts such as systemic racism and sexism in the classroom. Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia have all introduced measures banning public schools to prohibit “teaching divisive concepts” and “widely debated topics.”

Some states are attempting to outlaw instruction involving Critical Race Theory, while others have banned giving course credit for public policy advocacy and the 1619 Project. Legislation has already been adopted in at least four states.

“We are asking educators throughout the nation on June 12 to pick a historic site to symbolize the history that will be repressed if these bills are passed,” Menkard said in describing the relevance of the day’s activities.  

Frank Smith, CEO and chairman of Washington, D.C.’s African-American Civil War Memorial and Museum and a former D.C. Council member, will speak at the event. Smith said he believes it is critical for people to become involved in resistance against efforts to repress teachers.

“This idea of trying to restrict what people can teach and what they can learn is a way of trying to promote a biased sense of education, a biased sense of history,” Smith said.

“It’s important for us to get involved in this because our young people need to know that history is important,” Smith continued.

In addition to the demonstration at the African American Civil War Museum, teachers, students and community members across the country are meeting at scores of sites that symbolize the impact of systemic racism across the nation.  

Events will be held at the Trail of Tears marker in Springdale, Arkansas; Protest Park in Philadelphia; the Carl Braden Memorial Center in Louisville, Kentucky, an historic meeting place for the city’s African American community and other historic locations in Chicago, Charlottesville, Columbia, South Carolina and cities large and small.  

“It is really important for teachers to know they are not alone,” Menkart said.   

Groups or individuals who cannot come to an organized meeting site on June 12 are asked to make a pledge to “teach the truth” and “select a site that symbolizes the history teachers would be required to omit, if the bills become law,” she said.

Although D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice are not concerned about restrictive legislation directly affecting District of Columbia Public Schools, DCAESJ members mention that conservative U.S. Senators such as Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have added their voice in pushing for restricting teachers’ ability to explain the role of racism in United States history.

McConnell and a group of 38 Senate Republicans sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Education in April requesting the Department of Education (DOE) to immediately stop incorporating The 1619 project in grants for local schools.  

The 1619 project was developed by Nikole Hannah Jones of the {New York Times} to mark the year enslaved Americans arrived on U.S. shores. The project traces the implementation and maintenance of institutional racism as an integral part of the American story. In his letter to U.S. DOE Secretary Miguel Cardona, McConnell said the 1619 project and similar programs represent “radical ideologies.”

Jones is currently facing controversy herself as University of North Carolina’s board of Trustees refused to approve tenure for the journalist, who teaches at the UNC campus in Chapel Hill, NC.  

For Frank Smith, who was involved in setting up the original summer Freedom Schools throughout the American South during the Civil Rights movement, sentiments like McConnell’s represent the reason he will be standing at the African American Civil War Memorial on June 12 at 11:00 am with teachers, students and community members across the region.

“What these people are talking about is screening out anything to do with racism…slavery…discrimination and all the hardships African Americans had to face in this county,” Smith explained.

“Students need to know that history is about liberation and freedom of people,” Smith emphasized.