A Connecticut school superintendent was chased out of his job by racist supporters of former president Donald Trump.
Rydell Harrison resigned at the end of last month, just two weeks after agreeing to a new contract with Easton-Redding-Region 9, after out-of-town conservative activists stirred up outrage over the district's diversity lessons and his Facebook post condemning Trump's election conspiracy theories, reported NBC News."People have asked me, 'Was it one flyer too many?' and it wasn't just this one thing," Harrison said. "It was the collection of all of these pieces and the emotional and personal toll to be a Black man doing this work and facing very blatant attacks left and right."
Harrison joined the school district in August, as the coronavirus pandemic raged, and he drew national attention for his widely shared snow day song, but conservative groups attacked him over diversity lessons requested by many parents and students -- and he joined a growing number of educators driven out of jobs by Fox News-fueled hysteria over critical race theory.
"In education, we have responded to opposition with truth and facts and being able to say, 'Yeah, I can see why that'd be a concern, but this is what is really happening,'" Harrison said. "In most cases that works for us. But when facts are no longer part of the discussion, our tools to reframe the conversation and get people back on board are limited."
He resigned a month after the school board voted to endorse a statement committing to equity and diversity, but only after taking out the words "equity" and "systemic" over Harrison's objections, and Dana Benson, a local Republican donor who runs the Save Our Schools group driving the campaign, complained that the school's diversity and equity plans wouldn't be necessary without the assumptions of critical race theory.
"Trying to explain to someone that systemic racism is a thing, at the core of that you're trying to show that my lived experiences as a person of color matter," Harrison said.
Harrison was targeted after condemning the Jan. 6 insurrection, and conservative parents accused the district's first Black superintendent of pushing his "ideology" on students and activist groups urged residents to complain about him to the school board.
"[He] alienated half of the families," said one resident after his resignation, "[and should have] kept his personal politics and strong liberal ideologies to himself."