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Historians Criticize Moms for Liberty Event at Museum in Philadelphia


In an interview, the museum’s president and chief executive, R. Scott Stephenson, called the museum, which opened in 2017, a place where people of “very broad political differences” can engage in “an exploration of American history that embraces diversity and inclusion, but also gives room for people to feel gratitude and pride in the nation and hope for the future.”

“Man, I think we need more, not less of that,” he said.

Moms for Liberty has objected to negative characterizations of the group, which the Southern Poverty Law Center recently labeled “extremist.”

In a statement to The New York Times, the organization’s co-founders, Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich, said: “We expect our national summit in Philadelphia to be a time of training and empowerment for parents to be more active in their child’s school system. We stand for the rights of parents and against anyone trying to silent parents who want to speak up on behalf of their child’s needs.”

In recent years, historians have increasingly been pulled into escalating political battles over the teaching of American history, which has turned the date “1776” itself into a partisan rallying cry. Scholarly groups have mobilized against the rapid spread of so-called “divisive concepts” laws limiting teaching on race and gender, which have been passed or proposed in at least three dozen states.

Moms for Liberty, founded in 2021, originally focused on opposition to pandemic-era restrictions in schools, but has since expanded to supporting parents’ rights to ban books they deem inappropriate from classrooms and school libraries. The group has also become a force in Republican politics — the scheduled speakers at the summit include several presidential candidates.

The Museum of the American Revolution is not the first institution to draw fire for a rental to groups or figures deemed contradictory to its mission. In 2019, the annual gala of the Brazilian Chamber of Commerce was moved from the American Museum of Natural History, after news that the group was honoring Jair Bolsonaro, then the Brazilian president, caused an outcry.


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