CHICAGO (CBS) — New Trier Township High School heard from hundreds of fired up parents about an upcoming seminar focusing on racial civil rights issues in America.
The auditorium at the high school was packed for Monday night’s meeting. There were over one hundred requests to speak, and the public comment section was extended to one hour.
There was so much interest from parents wanting to weigh in, the Fire Marshall eventually had to close the doors and turn people away for safety reasons.
The all school seminar, titled ‘Understanding Today’s Struggle for Racial Civil Rights,’ is going to allow students to pick from over 100 workshops and have the opportunity to hear from two national book award winning authors.
Colson Whitehead wrote The Underground Railroad and Andrew Aydin penned March, which chronicles the life of Civil Rights Activist and Congressman John Lewis.
Some parents have called the event “liberally biased,” and want more conservative presenters and topics included.
“We think that seminar day is great, but it’s important to expose these kids here to a wide variety of voices,” said Betsy Hart, speaking on behalf of Parents of New Trier.
Parents of New Trier is a group of concerned parents, who say the keynote speakers and seminars planned only include liberal points of view. They asked school leaders to include voices such as Pastor Corey Brooks, who’s with Project Hood in Chicago.
Pastor Brooks spoke at Monday night’s meeting, saying the scheduled activities are “very lopsided.”
“All of that is missing,” Hart said. “A sense of real history of civil rights, and what do we mean by that, and how do we define those.”
But other parents support seminar day, saying it’s not about politics.
“You can’t make left or right out of it, you can’t invite speakers that are telling the other side of racism,” said Susie Posnock, who was also in attendance for the meeting.
School leaders say the day is designed to help students better understand both history and race in today’s America — not to side with one political party over another.
New Trier budgeted $30,000 for the single day event, which is still scheduled for next week. Leaders at Monday night’s meeting said it was too late to make changes.