Benton was just appointed by Speaker of the House David Ralston to the House Study Committee on Civics Education in Georgia. Benton, along with two of his colleagues in the House, will be responsible for assessing Georgia’s civics education and making recommendations to the state Board of Education.
Last year, Benton defended the KKK, saying, it “was not so much a racist thing but a vigilante thing to keep law and order.”
“It made a lot of people straighten up,” he added.
He doubled down on his defense of the KKK and other aspects of the South’s incredibly violent, racist history by pushing a set of bills to celebrate “Confederate History Month” and Robert E. Lee’s birthday.
Speaker Ralston — after much pressure — came out with a very mild statement against Benton’s bills.
“I condemn commentary that would seek to reverse the progress that we have made in the last century and a half,” Ralston said at the time.
Clearly, the gravity of Benton’s words and actions has not left a lasting impression on Ralston the way it has with many other folks in Georgia.
There are plenty of things to be proud of in the South, however the legacies of slavery and other violent manifestations of racism should never be brushed aside so that white people can have a rosier narrative about their ancestors.
Now, Benton has been given the opportunity to reshape how Georgia public school students study civics. And all Ralston can say to defend his choice is that, “[Benton] spent 30 years in the classroom teaching subjects including Georgia history and American history.”
There are 26 members of the House Education committee, many of whom are also retired teachers or have an equally long history in education. Ralston did not make another choice because, ultimately, he does not care about Benton’s racist beliefs.
Benton is up for reelection in 2018, his district resides just outside the metro Atlanta area, nestled between Gainesville and Athens, taking up most of Jackson County. House members must be at least 21 years old, residents of the state for at least two years, and have lived in the district for at least one year. The Secretary of State’s office offers this handy Candidate Training Guide, that covers the rules candidates must follow.
If running for office isn’t for you, think about the people in your life you’d love to see in office and ask them to run! Your favorite local civics group can help direct you to candidate trainings in your area, many nonpartisan groups offer excellent workshops to help prepare people to run for office.