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OP-ED: DEI Confronts the Legacy of Jim Crow

NNPA NEWSWIRE- It’s time to acknowledge that simply removing overtly discriminatory laws is not enough. We must actively work to dismantle the systemic biases and structures that continue to perpetuate inequality.



Texas State Representative Ron Reynolds

By Texas State Representative Ron Reynolds

We need DEI programs to help remedy decades of Jim Crow policies that led to underinvestment in Black and Brown students.

As a lawmaker, a parent, and a member of a community that has felt the sting of systemic injustices, it’s time to confront the uncomfortable truths of our past and pave the way toward a more just future, especially in our education system.
Centuries of discriminatory policies stemming from systemic racism have left lasting scars on Black and Brown communities. State-sanctioned policies have deprived generations of students of the opportunities they deserve. These policies have relegated students to inferior schools, underfunded classrooms, and a future shrouded in inequality.

Today, the echoes of those injustices still reverberate in our educational institutions. Despite progress, glaring disparities persist, with Black and Brown students disproportionately facing barriers to success. It’s time to acknowledge that simply removing overtly discriminatory laws is not enough. We must actively work to dismantle the systemic biases and structures that continue to perpetuate inequality.

This is where diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs become not just an educational necessity but also a moral imperative. By embracing DEI initiatives in our schools, we acknowledge the unique challenges marginalized communities face and commit to addressing them head-on. These programs provide a framework for creating inclusive environments where every student, regardless of race or background, feels valued, supported, and empowered to thrive.

Critics may argue that DEI programs are unnecessary or even divisive. They couldn’t be more wrong. DEI is not about singling out any group; it’s about ensuring every student has a sense of belonging and can succeed. The goal is to promote empathy, comprehension, and cultural competence among students and educators. It’s about recognizing that diversity is not a hindrance but a strength—one that enriches the educational experience for everyone.

Moreover, DEI programs are not just about rectifying past wrongs but about building a brighter future for all. By breaking down barriers and fostering inclusivity, we address the injustices of the past and lay the groundwork for a more just society moving forward. When every child has access to a quality education and feels supported in their journey, we all reap social, economic, and moral benefits.

Implementing DEI programs has challenges, but the rewards far outweigh the obstacles. It requires policymakers, educators, parents, and communities to prioritize equity and inclusivity in all aspects of education. It demands uncomfortable conversations, introspection, and a willingness to confront our own biases. But if we genuinely believe in the promise of equality and justice for all, there is no other path forward.

As we reflect on the legacy of Jim Crow and the injustices it wrought, let us not despair but rather draw inspiration from the resilience of those who fought for change. It’s shameful that the MAGA Movement has attacked the marginal progress we’ve made under DEI programs. They are reversing history with anti-DEI and critical race theory policies under the leadership of MAGA extremists like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Let us honor their legacy by redoubling our efforts to create a more just society, starting with our schools. Let us embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion as not just buzzwords but guiding principles in our quest for a brighter future for all our children.






Representative Reynolds was sworn in on January 10, 2011, as the State Representative for House District 27. Ron is currently serving his seventh term in the Texas House. He is the first African American State Representative in Fort Bend County since Reconstruction. Reynolds was named "2021 87th Session Legislator of the Year" by Fort Bend United and The Young & the Politics. His House colleagues voted him "Freshman Legislator of the Year" and "Public Servant of the Year" by the Houston Minority Contractors Association. He served as the House Minority Whip during the 83rd & 84th legislative sessions. Reynolds is an Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity member and the 100 Black Men of America, Inc. Reynolds is the Chair of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, the Chair of the Texas HBCU Caucus, and the Vice Chair of the Texas Energy & Climate Caucus. Founder and past Chair, Texas House Progressive Caucus. Reynolds serves on the Board of Directors for the NAACP and Texas Black Expo. He also serves as Vice President of the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats, Fort Bend Chapter, the Legislative Leader for the Texas State NAACP, and the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats. Reynolds serves as the ranking member of the House Committee on Environmental Regulation and Land & Resource Management. He is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox 26 Houston. Before being elected State Representative, Reynolds was an Associate Municipal Judge for the City of Houston, Past President of the Houston Lawyers Association, and Past President of the Missouri City & Vicinity NAACP. Reynolds graduated from Texas Southern University and Texas Tech University School of Law. He is the recipient of three honorary doctorates: a "Doctor of Humanities" from Trinity International University of Ambassadors, a "Doctor of Philosophy in Humanitarianism," and a "Doctorate of Divinity" from Pendleton Chapel Seminary. Rep. Reynolds is a devout Christian and a successful small business owner. He is a proud father of three wonderful children.


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