RSS

Tag Archives: textbooks

The Southern Myth – How Slavery Became Pleasant

I remember this from my segregated primary school 3rd Grade textbook, which is the one mentioned in the article below. When I first attended an integrated school in 7th Grade, the textbook in the previously all white school quoted almost verbatim the Southern Myth about slavery. My refusal to be tested and graded on anything which was gross historical lie, or to sit in class while it was being taught caused a bit of an uproar. I actually remember one white girl saying in class how well the slaves were treated, and how happy they were…That lasted up until I mentioned Denmark Vesey and Nat Turner (We didn’t know about Gabriel Prosser yet as much of what would become Black History had been erased from the textbooks and had to be rediscovered). and The teacher challenged me to provide material which contravened the information in the “official” Virginia History Book. My Dad, a historian had just completed a book on black history, replete with all the research and documentation from places like the Library of Congress…

I provided said information.

The Daughters of the Confederacy weren’t the last to attempt to rewrite History…Right wingers in Texas have even tried to erase figures like Cesar Chavez and the existence of black contributions to America. So the battle is ongoing.

Welcome to America. I now own your ass.

How Dixie’s History Got Whitewashed

The United Daughters of the Confederacy were once a powerful force in public education across the South, right down to rewriting history: slaves were happy, y’all.

Earlier this week Vanderbilt University announced that it would remove the word “Confederate” from the stone pediment at the entrance to a campus dormitory known as Memorial Hall. The decision brings to a close a long-standing dispute between the university and the Tennessee division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which provided the funds for the construction of the building and claimed naming rights in 1933. As part of the agreement, the school will pay the UDC $1.2 million or the present value of their initial $50,000 donation. This decision is the latest in a string of high-profile moves to remove Confederate iconography from public and private places as well as a reflection of the UDC’s long decline.

The women who founded the UDC in 1894 were committed to preserving and defending the memory of  Confederate soldiers and their cause. By World War I, membership in the UDC had reached roughly 100,000. While chapters were eventually established throughout the country, they remained most influential in the South, where they organized Decoration Day ceremonies, monument dedications, and raised money to support veterans in their old age. Their most important function, however, was the overseeing of how history was taught to the next generation on the high school and college levels. Students were expected to assume the responsibility of defending their ancestors once the generation that lived through the war had died. They did this primarily by authorizing textbooks for classroom use and rejecting those they deemed to be a threat to the memory of the Confederate soldier.

The UDC promoted histories that celebrated the Confederate cause by praising leaders like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson and ignoring or re-interpreting the central cause of the war, namely slavery. Consider Susan Pendleton Lee’s 1895 textbook, A School History of the United States, in which she declared that although abolitionists had declared slavery to be a “moral wrong,” most Southerners believed that “the evils connected with it were less than those of any other system of labor.” “Hundreds of thousands of African savages,” according to the author, “had been Christianized under its influence—the kindest relations existed between the slaves and their owners.” It should come as no surprise that in her account of Reconstruction, the Ku Klux Klan was necessary “for protection against . . . outrages committed by misguided negroes.”

By the first decade of the 20th century and with the encouragement of the UDC, most Southern states established textbook commissions to oversee and recommend books for all public schools that provided a “fair and impartial” interpretation. These committees worked diligently to challenge publishers who stood to threaten the South’s preferred story of the war: “Southern schools and Southern teachers have prepared books which Southern children may read without insult or traduction of their fathers. Printing presses all over the Southland—and all over the Northland—are sending forth by thousands ones which tell the true character of the heroic struggle. The influence . . . of the South forbid[s] longer the perversion of truth and falsification of history.”…

…The effort made by the UDC to control history textbooks paid off immeasurably and continued to shape how Americans remembered the Civil War well into the 20th century. As late as the ’70s, the state of Virginia still used the popular textbook Virginia: History, Government, Geography by Francis B. Simkins, Spotswood H. Jones, and Sidman P. Poole, first published in 1957. Its chapter on slavery—“How the Negroes Lived under Slavery”—featured a well-dressed African-American family on board a ship shaking hands with a white man, who is presumed to be the family’s new owner. Here is how it describes slavery:

A feeling of strong affection existed between masters and slaves in a majority of Virginia homes . . . The house servants became almost as much a part of the planter’s family circle as its white members . . . The Negroes were always present at family weddings. They were allowed to look on at dances and other entertainments . . . A strong tie existed between slave and master because each was dependent on the other …  The slave system demanded that the master care for the slave in childhood, in sickness, and in old age. The regard that master and slaves had for each other made plantation life happy and prosperous.  Life among the Negroes of Virginia in slavery times was generally happy. The Negroes went about in a cheerful manner making a living for themselves and for those for whom they worked . . . But they were not worried by the furious arguments going on between Northerners and Southerners over what should be done with them. In fact, they paid little attention to these arguments.

My Dad always argued that black folks were the first non-Asian people to reach the Americas from Africa. He had visited Mexico and seen the statues of the Olmecs who ruled parts of what is now Mexico and Central America in 1700 BC. It is only about 1,000 miles by sea at the closest point between Africa and South America aided by the “Westerlies”. He believed that the great trading period starting about 7th Century was actually the second or third rise of trade and exploration in West Africa. Indeed it is now known as a result of that second/third trade period that the first known African migrated to live in England in the 13th Century, and there may have been trade between North Africa and Europe as early as the Vikings.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 20, 2016 in Black History, The New Jim Crow

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Virginia’s History Text Disaster

No, Virginia - These guys had pretty much gone the way of the DoDo Bird by the 15th Century...

This one first surfaced in October, when a controversy erupted due to a claim in a History Text used in Virginia 5th Grade Elementary Schools contained the assertion that “thousands of black soldiers served in the confederate army”, and that black soldiers fought under Stonewall Jackson…

Neither of which is in the least bit true. Turns out the person who writes History Texts for Five Ponds Press, the company which has a lock on Virginia textbooks – isn’t a Historian. And Five Ponds Press doesn’t have their textbooks vetted by professionals prior to publication, with History Texts written by Joy Masoff.

How did Five Ponds get a lock on the Commonwealth’s textbooks? (Yes, Virginia is one of two Commonwealths in America! Extra points if you remember 10th Grade US History and the other one.)

It doesn’t appear to be anything nefarious. Virginia has a policy favoring small publishers. Second, Five Ponds reacted quickly in developing textbooks tailored to Virginia’s infamous “Standards of Learning” test…errrr… hygiene (I’m trying not to use the “s” word”!).

A combination of poor sourcing and fact checking by Five Ponds, which does $70 million a year worth of business with Virginia (who appear to be their sole, if not principal client) – and a complete breakdown by the Commonwealth in auditing the textbooks for accuracy has resulted in textbooks distributed throughout the School System with dozens, if not hundreds of errors.

In the version of history being taught in some Virginia classrooms, New Orleans began the 1800s as a bustling U.S. harbor (instead of as a Spanish colonial one). The Confederacy included 12 states (instead of 11). And the United States entered World War I in 1916 (instead of in 1917).

The text also claims that early Virginia settlers commonly wore full suits of Armor. Unfortunately for Five Ponds, Virginia was settled a few centuries after Knights in Shining Armor roamed the fields of Europe and the Middle East. By the 16th Century, muskets had pretty much rendered anything except a breastplate, and possibly a helmet obsolete.

Growing up in Virginia, I remember the pre-1970’s textbooks whose content was specified by the State Legislature. Replete with stories of “happy darkies” tending the fields as slaves in Antebellum heaven – let’s just say the Southern Myth was on full display in all it’s rancid glory. Some states, notably Texas and Arizona – apparently never left that era.

Some Va. history texts filled with errors, review finds

These are among the dozens of errors historians have found since Virginia officials ordered a review of textbooks by Five Ponds Press, the publisher responsible for a controversial claim that African American soldiers fought for the South in large numbers during the Civil War.

“Our Virginia: Past and Present,” the textbook including that claim, has many other inaccuracies, according to historians who reviewed it. Similar problems, historians said, were found in another book by Five Ponds Press, “Our America: To 1865.” A reviewer has found errors in social studies textbooks by other publishers as well, underscoring the limits of a textbook-approval process once regarded as among the nation’s most stringent.

“I absolutely could not believe the number of mistakes – wrong dates and wrong facts everywhere. How in the world did these books get approved?” said Ronald Heinemann, a former history professor at Hampden-Sydney College. He reviewed “Our Virginia: Past and Present.”

In his recommendation to the state, Heinemann wrote, “This book should be withdrawn from the classroom immediately, or at least by the end of the year.”

The review began after The Washington Post reported in October that “Our Virginia” included a sentence saying that thousands of black soldiers fought for the South. The claim is one often made by Confederate heritage groups but rejected by most mainstream historians. The book’s author, Joy Masoff, said at the time that she found references to it during research on the Internet. Five Ponds Press later apologized.

The unusual review process involved five professional scholars. The results, said three of those involved in the process, proved disturbing. Some submitted lists of errors that ran several pages long. State officials plan to meet Jan. 10 to review the historians’ concerns. (more)

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 29, 2010 in Great American Rip-Off

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Texas Text-twits Are At it Again

Fresh from disappearing minorities, including Thurgood Marshall and Caesar Chavez from textbook – The Texas Textbook Taliban is at it again…

This time trying to disappear one of the world’s major religions… Islam.

Textbooks May Be Too Pro-Islam, Anti-Christian, Texas State Education Board Says

Students in Texas may be getting a glorified view of Islam, according to some state education leaders who are pushing for a resolution that would denounce social studies textbooks as biased against Christianity.

Though the president of conservative-leaning Texas State Board of Educationsupports the measure as promotingreligious equality in schools, faith leaders and activists have condemned the board’s proposal as intolerant and anti-Muslim.

“It’s clearly just an attempt to propagandize the state’s student population against the faith of Islam,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Washington D.C.-based Council on Islamic-American Relations. “Somehow they were getting too rosy a picture of Islam.”

The Texas Board of Dis-Education… A group of sanctimonious conservative twits taking child molestation to a whole new level.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 23, 2010 in Domestic terrorism, Stupid Republican Tricks

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

New Jim Crow – Conservatives Try to “Disappear” Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall From History Books

More racism from conservatives, this time in an effort which could result in the removal of mention of Thurgood Marshall and Cesar Chavez from the history books utilized not only in Texas – but in schools throughout the country…

Cesar Chavez i 1969 Led Farm Workers Movement

Cesar Chavez i 1969 Led Farm Workers Movement

Texas Could Remove Cesar Chavez, Thurgood Marshall from Public School Studies

The Texas State Board of Education is moving toward removing Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall from the social studies curriculum taught to its 4.7 million public school students. According to one of the six “expert reviewers” revising the 1997 curriculum, Chavez “lacks the stature, impact and overall contributions of so many others; and his open affiliation with Saul Alinsky’s movements certainly makes dubious that he is praiseworthy.” Another reviewer concluded that Marshall, a Supreme Court justice who as an attorney argued the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case, is “not an appropriate example as a historical figure of influence.” These are not the rantings of powerless and fringe people; they are statements from those recommending a new curriculum to the full Board. And so during a week in which an African-American President’s appointee of the first Latino to the Supreme Court dominates the news, we have Texas – whose Governor spoke of “secession” earlier this year – trying to turn back social and racial progress.

Before Appointment ot the Supreme Court by President Johnson, Marshall won 29 of the 32 cases he tried before the Supreme Court

Before Appointment ot the Supreme Court by President Johnson, Marshall won 29 of the 32 cases he tried before the Supreme Court

Texas has an elected 15-member Board of Education, seven of which are viewed as social conservatives. The Board’s panel of experts to recommend new curriculum standards reflects this conservative perspective, which could soon result in a social studies classroom in which Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall are ignored but the motivational role of the Bible in the nation’s founding is highlighted.

So how does this impact schools outside of Texas? Read the rest of this entry »

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 19, 2009 in The Post-Racial Life

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 228 other followers

%d bloggers like this: