House OKs Requiring High School Courses On Black, Puerto Rican, Latino Histories

May 22, 2019

Led by Rep. Bobby Sanchez (D-New Britain), co-chair of the Education Committee, the House of Representatives approved legislation Wednesday for including African-American, Puerto Rican and Latino studies in the public high school curriculum.

“This bill will benefit all students of Connecticut because of its inclusiveness. Not only will it allow many students to identify with their cultural heritage and history, but it also will help break down the barriers of prejudice that divide us,” said Sanchez, who introduced the legislation and led a debate of the bill in the House.

Sanchez said the legislation received strong support from the state Department of Education, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, advocacy organizations and students across Connecticut.

Sanchez recalled an experience several years ago that convinced him of the need for the legislation.

“I gave a lecture to a diverse group of about 400 high school students on the contributions made by Puerto Ricans in the 65th Infantry during the Korean War. When I asked for a show of hands of how many students were aware of the sacrifices people made only four or five hands went up. The other students had no idea some of the 65th Infantry had even given lives to our country.

“These men and women and many others who served in that infantry were forgotten until 2014 when President Obama presented them posthumously with the Congressional Gold Medal. This is just one example of the need to offer these studies in our high schools,” Sanchez said.

“I’d like to thank my co-chair, Sen. Doug McCrory (D-Hartford), Rep. Bobby Gibson Jr. (D-Bloomfield, Windsor), a committee member, and the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Kathleen McCarty (D-Waterford, Montville) for their leadership in the passage of this important, bipartisan bill,” Sanchez said.

“These histories are all of our history. We need to know more about each other. We have to have this education to understand one another,” Gibson said.

House Bill 7082 requires Connecticut’s boards of education to start offering the studies into the curriculum beginning Jan. 1, 2021, but does not mandate that students take the courses.