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WASHINGTON – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and civil rights attorneys Mike Laux and Austin Porter Jr. filed an amended complaint and accompanying motion for preliminary injunction against Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the state of Arkansas on behalf of Arkansas State Conference of the NAACP, two Little Rock teachers and two students attending the historic Central High School. The plaintiffs are challenging the constitutionality of Arkansas’ controversial “anti-indoctrination” law and the discriminatory treatment of the Advanced Placement (AP) African American Studies course in public schools. In addition to the complaint, the plaintiffs have called on the federal court to enact an injunction, preventing the law from being further enforced while the case is litigated.

A copy of the complaint can be found here and a copy of the preliminary injunction can be found here.

David Hinojosa, Director of the Educational Opportunities Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law who has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, said, “Students should be allowed to learn about real history, not a whitewashed version. The most painful chapters of American history should not be buried because it makes some people uncomfortable. Only when we as a nation confront the true past, can we work towards a better future together. Frankly, it’s downright offensive and unjust for Arkansas to be forcing educators to censor their discussion on racism and stripping the AP African American Studies course of all its benefits, including extra weight for their GPAs, and potentially earning college credit.”

“From Arkansas to Alabama, the desecration of diversity, equity, and inclusion poses an imminent threat to the future of our nation. Make no mistake, these coordinated efforts to rewrite our history, remove our leaders from classrooms, and degrade our culture are a covert attempt to revert the progress we’ve worked tirelessly to secure,” said Derrick Johnson, President & CEO, NAACP. “We refuse to go back. The NAACP will continue to use every tool at our disposal to ensure that our constitutional rights are protected and our culture respected. This is what standing for community looks like.”

The LEARNS Act, which went into effect on March 8, 2023, prohibits educators from promoting certain concepts related to race and gender, including critical race theory and discussions about systemic racism. Critics argue that the law stifles open dialogue and limits teachers’ ability to provide a comprehensive education on critical societal issues.

“The Black community in Arkansas has a decades-long history of fighting for equitable education. Let’s not forget – it was Arkansas children who shouldered the responsibility of integrating our nation’s schools. Nearly 7 decades later, we carry the torch by fighting for the right for that history to be taught,” said Barry Jefferson, President, Arkansas State Conference of the NAACP. “The recent enactment of this legislation and discriminatory treatment of AP African American studies are an unconstitutional attempt to erode educational equity within our state. But we know we’re not alone, and we’re determined to ensure the sacrifices of yesterday are not held in vain as we look toward the prospects of tomorrow. The NAACP is proud to take this fight to the courts and will continue to do everything in our power to advocate for Black Arkansas.”

The complaint also seeks legal remediation for the unequal treatment of the AP African American Studies course in Arkansas public schools. Despite being offered as an advanced placement course, AP African American Studies has been marginalized and singled out by State’s decision to not allow the course to be used toward graduation credit and its refusal to pay students’ testing fees in contrast to how the State treats other AP courses. This disparity perpetuates systemic inequalities in education and deprives students of the opportunity to learn about the rich history and contributions of African Americans.


About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law–The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to mobilize the nation’s leading lawyers as agents for change in the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the Lawyers’ Committee uses legal advocacy to achieve racial justice, fighting inside and outside the courts to ensure that Black people and other people of color have the voice, opportunity, and power to make the promises of our democracy real.