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Southlake

Author: NBC News

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Southlake, Texas, seems to have it all: stately homes, intense civic pride, and above all, terrific schools. So when a video surfaced in 2018 showing Southlake high school students chanting the N-word—and when Black residents came forward to share stories of racist harassment and bullying—the school board vowed to make changes. But the unveiling of the Cultural Competence Action Plan set off a backlash that’s consumed Southlake, fueled by a growing national crusade against critical race theory. Hosted by NBC News national reporter Mike Hixenbaugh (host of the hit podcast Do No Harm) and NBC News correspondent Antonia Hylton, Southlake tells the story of how one idyllic city became the test case for a new political strategy with national repercussions.
15 Episodes
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Trailer

Trailer

2021-08-2002:37

Beautiful Southlake, Texas, seemed too good to be true—until a video emerged of white high school students chanting the N-word. But it was the school district’s plan to confront racism that really sent residents on the warpath. Hosted by reporter Mike Hixenbaugh and correspondent Antonia Hylton, Southlake is a six-part series about belonging—and backlash—in an American suburb.
Home of the Dragons

Home of the Dragons

2021-08-3038:301

Southlake, Texas, is an immaculate, largely white suburb 30 minutes from Dallas. It’s a magnet for well-off parents looking for public schools that will get their kids into top-tier universities — and it doesn’t hurt that the town’s Carroll High School Dragons routinely compete for the state football championship. Frank and Robin Cornish, a Black couple, moved to Southlake in the 1990s after Frank fell in love with the place, and he soon recruited fellow Dallas Cowboys to join them. But then the Cornish family suffered a tragedy, and gradually they began to see a different side of their town. In 2018, a viral video of students yelling the N-word brought their concerns to the surface — and exposed racism in Southlake's schools. The whole town seemed to get behind a plan to confront it...at first.
Just a Word

Just a Word

2021-08-3043:511

Southlake’s leaders try to bring the community together in the weeks after the viral N-word video. But inside the halls of Carroll High, Black students aren't feeling heard. In the midst of the turmoil, 17-year-old Raven Rolle secretly records her emotional showdown in the principal’s office with a white student who insists that anyone should be able to say the N-word. Meanwhile, the school district is forging ahead with a plan to address racist bullying, but before officials can release it, a pandemic and a national racial reckoning throws everything off track. A friend of Raven’s, Nikki Olaleye, organizes a Black Lives Matter rally in town square—and fear takes hold in Southlake.CORRECTION (Sept. 2, 2021, 04:30 p.m. ET): A previous version of this episode misstated the hotel where the 2018 homecoming dance was held. It was a Hilton hotel, not a Westin.
Facing a wave of backlash to its proposed Cultural Competence Action Plan, Southlake’s school board tries to find middle ground — but winds up angering everyone. The school board meeting room turns into a battleground, as scores of conservative parents line up to explain their objections to any changes to the curriculum or disciplinary measures designed to protect students of color. Behind the scenes, with the help of powerful figures like Texas GOP Chairman Allen West, a new political action committee begins work to stop what supporters say is a “liberal takeover” of their school district. They sue to put the diversity plan on hold, and their efforts catch the attention of conservatives outside Southlake.You can read the text of Carroll ISD’s draft diversity plan here. 
Parents in Southlake discover a new label for what's been bothering them about all this diversity, equity and inclusion talk: critical race theory. A new fixation on the academic concept muddies the debate, drowning out the voices of students who’d come forward with stories about racism. Kimberlé Crenshaw, one of the founding scholars of CRT, sheds light on the national battle over the theory, warning of dire consequences. And Tucker Carlson, Dana Loesch, and even Demi Lovato all put a spotlight on Southlake, where the local fight has grown even more divisive — and more personal.
The Debate Channel

The Debate Channel

2021-09-2046:26

The election to fill two school board seats takes center stage—and becomes a referendum on the school district’s diversity plan. At a secretly recorded meeting, members of Southlake Families PAC grill a prospective candidate about conservative political causes, from opposition to Black Lives Matter to abortion. As school board candidates debate whether Carroll's code of conduct is enough to protect students, a queer 16-year-old takes a complaint of harassment to Carroll Senior High School’s principal — and the response leaves her feeling even less safe at school. In the final days before the election, candidates knock on doors, and outgoing Mayor Laura Hill gives a speech calling opponents of the diversity plan to action.
Protect the Tradition

Protect the Tradition

2021-09-2743:18

It’s Election Day in Southlake, Texas — time to see if all the fighting over the school district’s Cultural Competence Action Plan translates into votes. A handful of candidates and supporters who want to see new diversity programs rally in Town Square, across from a much larger, rowdier crowd of those backing the conservative slate. “It’s a great town,” one voter shouts over her shoulder. “We want to keep it that way.” After the votes are counted, Southlake becomes a national poster child in the movement to redefine and root out critical race theory. Stuck in the middle is Lane Ledbetter, Carroll’s new school superintendent, who is tasked with bringing the community together — but in a rare interview, he struggles to answer questions about racism in Southlake. On graduation day, Nikki Olaleye says she hopes Southlake’s future doesn’t mirror its past.
Beyond the Bubble

Beyond the Bubble

2021-10-0440:36

Five months after the high-stakes local election in Southlake, the city is gearing up for yet another contentious vote. One of the school board members who supported the diversity plan, retired Air Force Col. Dave Almand, is stepping down, and the battle over diversity programs is at the center of the fight to replace him. But he’s far from the only leader to leave a role in public schools this year following attacks from parents opposed to what they see as the quiet creep critical race theory. For this special bonus episode, we sit down with a panel of four educators from across the country who’ve come under fire, including James Whitfield, the first Black principal at a high school a town over from Southlake, whose school board has begun a formal process that could lead to his termination. The educators discuss how the anti-CRT movement is driving them out of their careers—and away from their students.
Books and Backlash

Books and Backlash

2022-03-0640:121

 The fight over diversity in Southlake’s Carroll Independent School District is back in the headlines and has a new focus — books. Teachers are worried about a new Texas law that limits instruction on contentious topics, and one of them secretly records a meeting in which a Carroll administrator offers an unexpected piece of advice: If teachers share books about the Holocaust with students, the administrator says, then they should also offer books on “opposing perspectives.” Teachers are incredulous, and the recording sets off an international backlash. In this special bonus episode, we speak with a former librarian at Carroll Senior High School, who retired early instead of continuing to navigate the battle over books, as well as a 12-year-old student whose mother pulled him out of the district after he faced severe bullying over his sexuality. And we have new details on what could be a game-changing development in Southlake: a federal civil rights investigation into students’ complaints of discrimination.If you or someone in your life is in distress, you can always call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The toll-free number, 800-273-8255, connects you to a certified crisis center nearby. For more resources, click here.
A mother named Sharla publicly accuses a high school teacher in Grapevine, Texas, of using a graphic novel called “The Prince and the Dressmaker” to convince her child to change genders. Reporters Mike Hixenbaugh and Antonia Hylton set out to investigate the allegation. Sharla’s child, Ren, and Ren’s English teacher, Em Ramser, tell them a different story.
Conservatives are gaining power in Grapevine, fueled by a once-fringe movement that calls on evangelicals to control the seven key “mountains” of American society — including education. A cellphone company with a Christian nationalist agenda heeds that call and sets its sights on winning school board seats in Grapevine, following an example set a year earlier in the neighboring city of Southlake.CORRECTION (Oct. 4, 2023, 08:40 p.m. ET): A previous version of this episode misstated the amount of money Patriot Mobile Action spent in school board elections in North Texas in spring 2022. It was nearly $500,000, not $600,000. 
Amid a growing anti-trans backlash, Ren devises a plan to get out of Texas — and away from her mother. In Grapevine, Sharla’s claim that teacher Em Ramser “infected” her child with lies about gender triggers online attacks, leading Ramser to consider leaving the profession.
Weston Brown, 28, sees a video of his homeschooling mother calling for dozens of books on sexuality and gender to be banned from public schools in another Texas school district. To counter her political activism, Weston publicly shares his story of growing up gay in a fundamentalist Christian family. Feeling pressured by parents and school officials, Em Ramser removes LGBTQ symbols from her classroom and no longer recognizes the teacher she’s become.
Evangelical activists open a new front in their campaign to impose their version of biblical morality in public schools — at the Texas statehouse. While legislators debate bills requiring the Ten Commandments and banning mention of gender identity in classrooms, three nonbinary students share the trauma they’ve endured at Grapevine High. Meanwhile, a coalition of progressive parents and disillusioned conservatives pledge to retake control of their school system.
Grapevine goes to the polls in a contentious school board election driven by the fight over the role of religion and LGBTQ inclusion in public schools. As the dust settles, Ren reflects on the impact of her mother’s allegations. And, after months of feeling as if she’s had to erase herself, Em Ramser reclaims her voice.
Comments (20)

Baran nikrah

🍃🍃

Dec 5th
Reply

Ghostlywolfgal87

My husband has been recommending i listen to this podcast for a while now and I finally had the time. I listened to the entire series in a day. It definitely pulled me in having been from a close city. This put me through all the emotions and I am so proud of how brave and strong these teens are. As well as the teachers and the ones speaking up and supporting their rights. My kids are grown now but I cannot imagine them not being able to be themselves and be loved. Makes me so angry.

Dec 5th
Reply

No Name

This story is so very important to tell.

Oct 6th
Reply

Staci BAMS

Oh wow Ms. Mayor Hill, you were friends with a man of color. Pound sand you phony, idiotic turd

Aug 14th
Reply

Staci BAMS

Why do racist people always think they are not racist? "Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me" is so misunderstood, it's pathetic. The Golden Rule is The Best lesson my Mom taught me. Peace out.

Aug 14th
Reply

Jim Frees

when you are so FUCKING ashamed of our history that you litigate it and you FUCKING COWTOW to the klan trash, white supremacists domestic terrorists and nazi lovers that you have to support their love for Hitler im public schools.

Mar 6th
Reply

Suzanne Hubbard Gerken

Race is not an issue if the person addressing race enjoys white privilege so only has the need to address it from the outside or to defend themselves. Systemic Racism is real.

Dec 9th
Reply

Cruz Alvarado

Great story...very weak journalism...

Oct 16th
Reply

Claude Poliakoff

Very interesting, exposing the challenge of overcoming racism, which started at birth of America. Teaching history is of critical importance, if we hope to emotionally evolve toward social equity. Of course we are not personally guilty of slavery, BUT, acknowledging history and it's lingering effects is essential. The "micro-aggressions" that defy precise definition are the manifestation of the racism of our past. Like it or not, it must be acknowledged & labeled as reprehensible, if we are to evolve as a nation.

Oct 6th
Reply

Phillip S. Stewart

Nice and amazing post this one is, thanks for sharing…https://www.mybalancenow.today/

Sep 22nd
Reply

Adam F Thompson

entitled white idiots

Sep 16th
Reply

DrRayTay

“Apparently we use someone’s worst moments in life to completely slight their entire life.” Yeah. That’s called accountability. And I’m certain Tucker Carlson and his guests have no problem with that attitude when it comes to prison sentencing, homelessness, addiction, and many other punitive actions we take against vulnerable people. It’s strange how no one in town felt outraged when the podcaster publicly spoke about a Black woman’s struggles. I don’t really see the difference in the flyers and the podcast. Both were uncalled for but only one got a segment on Fox News.

Sep 14th
Reply (3)

Josie Brockmann

this is fantastic.

Sep 9th
Reply

roxicodone

As a Texan, I'm rolling my eyes so hard at the huffy indignation coming from these parents who have zero perspective. As a member of a marginalized group, how dare these people pretend as if the color of their skin, the ugly words from their children's mouths, the blind ignorance they suffer everyday mean more than the gross misconduct and hurt they've dealt by trying to silence our voices? They have never suffered oppression and now, when someone wants to take action against their ignorant views, they are suddenly up in arms? Eat a fat one. The single star on the Texas flag really is a review.

Sep 9th
Reply

Jaculyn Martin

No need to restrict CRT from school district's curriculum. Children are learning about racism in real time. And some of them are doing the teaching.

Sep 2nd
Reply

No Name

well said...,

Sep 1st
Reply

Jim Frees

Sooooooo sick of these racists Trump humping bigots

Aug 30th
Reply
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