Texas Pushes to Obscure the State’s History of Slavery and Racism

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tags: racism, Texas, teaching history

Every morning, schoolchildren in Texas recite an oath to their state that includes the words, “I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God.”

Now, a flurry of proposed measures that could soon become law would promote even greater loyalty to Texas in the state’s classrooms and public spaces, as Republican lawmakers try to reframe Texas history lessons and play down references to slavery and anti-Mexican discrimination that are part of the state’s founding.

The proposals in Texas, a state that influences school curriculums around the country through its huge textbook market, amount to some of the most aggressive efforts to control the teaching of American history. And they come as nearly a dozen other Republican-led states seek to ban or limit how the role of slavery and pervasive effects of racism can be taught.

Idaho was the first state to sign into law a measure that would withhold funding from schools that teach such lessons. And lawmakers in Louisiana, New Hampshire and Tennessee have introduced bills that would ban teaching about the enduring legacies of slavery and segregationist laws, or that any state or the country is inherently racist or sexist.

“The idea that history is a project that’s decided in the political arena is a recipe for disaster,” said Raul Ramos, a historian at the University of Houston who specializes in the American West.

Some of the positioning is politics as usual in Texas, where activists have long organized to imbue textbooks with conservative leanings. An especially active Republican-controlled legislative session has advanced hard-line measures from a host of new voting restrictions to a ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

But the Texas history measures have alarmed educators, historians and activists who said they largely ignore the role of slavery and campaigns of anti-Mexican violence and would fail to educate a generation of students growing up in a state undergoing huge demographic shifts.


Mr. Ramos questioned how the Texas Revolution, a six-month rebellion that concluded in the spring of 1836, could be associated with patriotism and freedom when the state’s new Constitution explicitly legalized slavery seven years after Mexico had abolished it.

“How do you have freedom when you have slavery?” Mr. Ramos asked. “Eighteen thirty-six values would have enslaved African-Americans in perpetuity.”

Read entire article at New York Times

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