Planned March Against 1776

Noah Gilbert and Catherine Reiher

In September of 2020, former President Donald Trump established the 1776 Commission. The goal was to support “Patriotic Education.” On January 18, 2021, the commission released the 1776 report. In the report they state, “…progressive education may as well impose its own ideological construct on the future. They did not call it indoctrination, but that is what it is,” when voicing concerns about public education.

“It’s a political organization with a goal to eliminate critical race theory from schools and local communities,” said Esha Bolar ’23, the president of Johnston March For Our Lives, and the state organizer for March for Our Lives Iowa. “Things like slavery and Japanese internment camps. Places where America kinda went wrong in the past.” 

Bolar and Waverly Zhao ’23, a co-facilitator for the Community of Racial Equity (CORE), organized a “March Against the 1776.”  “Ever since the three candidates won the election, and we found out about them and what they stood for, I automatically knew that some of the things they were saying were harmful towards BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) students and our education,” Zhao said. The goal of the march is to bring awareness to the Johnston community and make the newly elected board members abandon their 1776 pledge. “It’s unrealistic for us to protest them as members on the school board,” said Zhao, “but I think it is doable to get them to denounce the pledge and move onto something else.” 

With the summer riots of 2020 fresh in the minds of people, the organizers stress that this demonstration will nonviolent.  “It is going to be very peaceful, which is something we want to preface because the parents were obviously worried about the safety of the students participating,” Bolar said. The organizers also plan on having guest speakers and poets, as well as music. “We are trying to get the word out about this [1776 pledge] because frankly, it’s a little ridiculous,” Bolar said. 

When asked why they chose to sign the pledge and how it might be incorporated into their roles as school board members, the newly elected school board members provided these statements;

“I signed the 1776 Candidate/Officeholder Pledge because I believe in what it says. I love our country, our state, and our beautiful Johnston community! Even with our nation’s flaws, there is a reason why people are running to the United States and not running from the United States.  The fact that we can come together as a nation to overcome our obstacles is a sign of just how great our country is and can be.  It is important that our students understand the history that formed our nation and that gives us the opportunities we have today.  These opportunities include Johnston students having their voices be heard, that they are treated equally regardless of race or gender, and that they receive a well-rounded education that prepares them for their future. Our students should be empowered to pursue their passions & impact the world!” – Deb Davis

“I stand behind my support and signing of the 1776 Candidate/Officeholder Pledge. I believe that as a country we need to have a shared understanding of our founding principles and documents, only then will we be able to have honest dialogue about our historical progress and failures as we continue to strive towards achieving those ideals.”- Clint Evans

“My signing of the 1776 pledge was a way for me to show a large portion of Johnston voters, who might not have otherwise known me, where my baseline of principles stood.  A lot of negativity on the pledge has been distorted for political reasons, but the base takeaway is I believe we are a unique and exceptional country that offers unbelievable opportunities to those that work hard and learn from others how to move forward the farthest in life.

Nowhere does the pledge imply to ignore our ugly sides of history or that we should hide the fact some people historically had it better than others.  What the pledge highlights is that, while acknowledging those faults we should underline that we have made great strides and continuously strive to improve.  The hope and opportunity is there for any American that truly tries to achieve it” – Derek Tidball

The march will start at 5 pm on Monday, November 22, 2021 at the Johnston Community Library and will end at the District Office with the school board meeting and seating to follow.