On Friday, June 17, the Tampa Tiger Bay Club will host five Hillsborough County School Board nominees who will be elected in August. One is deeply involved with a local anti-vaccine group and has repeatedly spoken out against Florida schools teaching “critical race theory” (CRT).
Alysha “Aly Marie” Legge, candidate for District 6 – a countywide seat – says on her campaign website that she is the founder of Moms For Freedom (MFF), which markets itself as a group that seeks to “ensure that our children grow up in a world where their individual freedoms are protected.”
For the past two years, MFF has been vocal at Hillsborough County School Board meetings, speaking out against vaccines and COVID -19 precautions in schools. MFF held several fundraisers for Legge during his run, including one at the Mermaid Tavern, when the Seminole Heights restaurant and bar donated 20% of food sales to his campaign.
Legge has publicly claimed that parents may be lying about their children with COVID as cases spiked last summer.
“We were forcibly masked, forcibly vaccinated, forcibly isolated,” Legge said in March at a North Carolina rally of the People’s Convoy, a right-wing anti-vaccine group.
More than a million people in the United States have died from COVID-19, with the number continuing to rise and hospitalizations of children soaring earlier this year.
Legge also has several videos on her website that show her speaking out against the CRT, which is a way to understand how racism in America has shaped the country’s history and public policy.
“I’m here to tell you as a woman of color, and especially as an American, that we don’t need anyone to tell us or our children how great they think we are. oppressed,” she said at a rally in January 2022.
In recent years, right-wing groups have sought to influence school boards and other local offices. According to the Washington Post, this effort was intensified after the January 6 attack on the US Capitol in 2021, which left much of the militant right under federal scrutiny and in operational disarray.
Candidates from this movement often focus on vaccinations and teaching CRT in schools.
Legge is known for speaking at an anti-CRT rally alongside Governor Ron DeSantis, who signed an anti-CRT bill into law in April. She claimed that teaching such history would “bring a lit box of matches to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and our First and 14th Amendments.”
She suggested that teaching CRT could somehow recreate history, even though there is no evidence that it was ever taught in public schools, only in universities.
“This theory tells children and adults alike that if you are light-skinned you are an oppressor and if you are darker-skinned then you are an oppressed class,” Legge told a rally. “It’s segregation at the base.”
Meanwhile, segregation ended on paper in 1964, and there are still many people alive who experienced it. The anti-CRT movement makes it harder to teach these experiences in schools.
In fact, DeSantis went so far as to ban math books that his administration claimed taught CRT.
Legge also appealed to people’s fears in a speech saying that CRT teaching is “setting the stage for a new era of civil war.” It was actually Trump’s right-wing supporters who recently nearly started a civil war in America on January 6, 2021. But Legge didn’t mention that.
So far, Legge has raised $18,547 for his campaign.
Creative Loafing Tampa Bay emailed Legge’s communications team to see if they still uphold those beliefs to this day, but they did not respond. We’ll update this post if she does.
The other school board candidates who will appear at the forum seem to have less inflammatory political positions.
Damaris Allen, candidate for District 2, says she wants to establish a model called “ECHO” to bring engagement, community, hope and opportunity to students.
Hunter Gambrell, District 4, wants to prioritize “world-class” education in the county and prioritize workforce education and wage inequality throughout the district.
Roshaun Gendrett, District 6, has a long history in the education system and wants to continue her efforts to reach underserved communities, while putting her experience to work.
Karen Perez, District 6, wants to hold the Hillsborough County Schools administration accountable for its mistakes and work diligently to ensure county resources get into the classroom.
The president of the Tiger Bay Club, which is a nonpartisan political forum, told CL that all school board candidates were invited and that those candidates, five of the eight registered, were the only ones who chose to run. so far.
“The board is always disappointed when some people running for office don’t find the time to meet with our members, because our members are committed,” said Tom Scherberger. “They vote, they think, they ask real questions. It’s through those questions that people can be told why someone is running for office, so people can judge accordingly.”