This One Letter In A Textbook Could Change How Millions Of Kids Learn About RaceHistorians in the News
tags: racism, education, textbooks, teaching history
(CNN) - Albert Broussard's intention to capitalize one letter in one word may impact millions of children around the US and how they learn about race.
Broussard, a longtime history textbook writer for McGraw Hill and a history professor at Texas A&M University, is planning to capitalize the b in Black in a lengthy revision to a history textbook used in American middle and high schools. His revisions are happening as civil unrest grips the nation and while experts argue that change is needed in how Black history is taught in the US.
Whether to capitalize the b in Black is also part of an ongoing historical debate on racial identification that dates back to sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois more than a century ago.
McGraw Hill is one of the country's largest K-12 textbook publishers that may use Black capitalized following protests over the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed May 25 after a White police officer was seen on video pressing his knee onto his neck.
The ultimate decision on whether a capitalized Black will be used in Broussard's revision will be made by McGraw Hill's internal staff editors, authors and academic advisers, which is a diverse group of people, the company told CNN over email. The publisher is "strongly considering it," McGraw Hill said.
"I just personally would like to see it capitalized because I think African American and Black are used interchangeably by most people in the population," Broussard said. "If you start children out thinking about Black or White or any group that way, that's how they will think about them for the rest of their lives."
McGraw Hill, Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt are purveyors of the final drafts of history. While it is unclear how many textbooks each company sells each year, more than $209 million worth of K-12 social studies books were sold in the US in 2018, according to data provided to CNN by the Association of American Publishers.
All three education companies are reviewing whether to use Black capitalized in their K-12 textbooks and educational materials, according to comments they provided to CNN.
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