MANITOWOC – Local activists are holding a Stop the Hate rally next week to show their support for holding conversations about diversity and racism within the Manitowoc Public School District in response to a recent increase in complaints against the school district and Manitowoc Public Library.
“We are concerned that this… campaign against our schools and our library is political, not to improve our community and we are alarmed that their bullying tactics that they use in these public forums go beyond what is necessary for a discussion and become threatening the public conversation, ”said Ron Kossik, one of the organizers of the Stop the Hate rally. “We work to improve our community through inclusion, tolerance, diversity and above all truth. We oppose bigotry, intolerance, racism and bullying.
The rally is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. on August 10, just before the regular Manitowoc School Board meeting at 7:00 p.m. The school board usually meets at the district office at 2902 Lindbergh Drive. However, the location may change if the council believes there will be a large number of people in attendance.
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“The message is that this vocal faction is not representative of our community,” Kossik said. “Most Manitowoc people want to have a conversation they need and discuss difficult issues and not be afraid and threatened by this conversation. “
The Manitowoc Human Rights Coalition, the Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement, MLK Day Manitowoc and the People’s Power Summit all announced their support for the rally.
An MLK Day Manitowoc press release states: “The Manitowoc Human Rights Coalition is calling for a rally just before our next school board meeting to defend our school system and our library from the forces of intolerance, bigotry, racism and hatred that undermines diversity and respect for all members of our community.
A large group of people attended the July 13 school board meeting demanding that critical race theory not be taught in the Manitowoc public school district. CRT is an academic concept from the 1970s typically taught in law schools that focuses on the idea that racism is systemic.
Sulynn Moore, president of the Manitowoc County Republican Party, said at the July meeting that the CRT and the equity efforts will divide students, rather than unify them.
“You can’t expect to foster love and acceptance through division,” she said. “… I think there are a lot of school board members and awakened superintendents who need to be replaced, and I’m not the only one feeling that. “
Superintendent Mark Holzman told The Herald Times Reporter that CRT is not taught in Manitowoc schools and never would be.
The Manitowoc Public Library received its own backlash when United Visionaries of Lakeshore hosted a panel discussion on “white privilege” at a library event in April.
A few months later Margaret Pauwels, a woman from Manitowoc County, was appointed county representative to the library board by Manitowoc County Council. Some county board members opposed her appointment after she criticized the library for “promoting political ideology.”
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Kossik said the idea behind the Stop the Hate rally on August 10 is to show officials that there are people in the community who support discussions about diversity and racism in public spaces such as schools or the library.
“Our school district and our library are important participants in these conversations about accepting differences rather than being afraid of them, and children need to be a part of that conversation,” he said. “We are concerned that Manitowoc is going in the wrong direction and becoming more intolerant.
Contact Alisa Schafer at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @AlisaMSchafer.