As a Principal, Jamaal Bowman Objected to Teaching About 'White' Figures Like George Washington, Honoring Cop-Killers Instead


Bowman celebrated an anti-Semite and cop-killers on ‘wall of honor’

Jamaal Bowman speaks at a 2018 AERO Conference (Alternative Education Resource/YouTube)

As a middle school principal, New York Democratic congressman Jamaal Bowman advised against teaching about “white” historical figures like George Washington, Jesus Christ, and Santa Claus. Instead, he used his position to elevate a renowned anti-Semite and cop-killers.

While speaking at a 2018 conference hosted by the Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO), Bowman detailed his pedagogy as the principal of the Bronx middle school he founded, Cornerstone Academy for Social Action (CASA). He encouraged educators to instill “self-empowerment” in their students by pushing back on “white” cultural figures, citing Washington, Jesus Christ, and Santa Claus as detriments to his students’ success.

“You can’t have self-directed learning without self-empowerment,” Bowman said. “If our kids don’t love themselves, if they don’t love who they are and where they come from, and they’re told that Santa Claus, and George Washington, and Jesus Christ—all these white hope, great people—are the standard, how are they going to feel about themselves?”

“And now they look at social media and they see cops killing people that look like them every other day. How do they feel about themselves? So the path towards education revolution and self-directed learning is self-empowerment.”

Roughly four years earlier, at CASA, Bowman curated a “Wall of Honor” featuring former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D., Ga.), Assata Shakur, and Mutulu Shakur—all of whom Bowman said “played a major role in moving our society … toward a world of freedom, justice, and equality.”

Years before Bowman established the wall, in 2009, McKinney attended a Holocaust denial gathering in London, where she praised anti-Semitic leaders and writers. Assata Shakur was convicted for the first-degree murder of a New Jersey state trooper in 1973, while Mutulu Shakur led a group of armed robbers who killed a guard and two New York police officers in 1981.

The newly surfaced video comes as Bowman faces an uphill primary campaign against Westchester County executive George Latimer.

The two-term congressman went on to defend his decision to honor McKinney and the Shakurs after the wall became public in February, acknowledging their “complicated biographies.”

“It is correct that many leaders in the Black liberation movement … have complicated biographies,” Bowman spokeswoman Sarah Iddrissu told HuffPost. “It is completely baseless, and a rhetorical tool of the far-right, to insinuate educating students on major figures of Black American history is serving to promote hateful or divisive rhetoric or actions.”

“Suppressing the education of Black history only serves to enable violence against Black people,” Iddrissu concluded.

Bowman and AERO did not return a request for comment.

Bowman in a 2015 blog post railed against standardized testing, likening the practice to “modern-day slavery” and “Jim Crow” inequalities.

“Public school high-stakes standardized testing is a form of modern-day slavery, and it is designed to continue the proliferation of inequality,” Bowman wrote. “America was born of horror for black people and that horror continues today for brown and poor people as well. Slavery, Jim Crow, redlining, crack cocaine and now standardized testing were all sanctioned by the American government.”

In Congress, Bowman went on to introduce the March 2023 “More Teaching Less Testing Act,” which aims to design curricula that address social, emotional, and cognitive development rather than test prep.

“We’re testing too darn much,” Bowman said in an October interview touting the bill with the Human Restoration Project.

AERO still supports that mission today, according to their website.

Bowman and Latimer will square off at the ballot box on June 25. Latimer leads the “Squad” member by 17 points, according to a Wednesday poll.

Las Vegas News Magazine

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