ERIC Number: EJ944236
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Reference Count: 0
Getting the Civil War Right
Loewen, James W.
Teaching Tolerance, n40 p22-28 Fall 2011
William Faulkner famously wrote, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." He would not be surprised to learn that Americans, 150 years after the Civil War began, are still getting it wrong. Did America's most divisive war start over slavery or states' rights? The author says that too many people--including educators--get it wrong. The author concludes that states' rights became a rallying cry for southerners fighting all federal guarantees of civil rights for African Americans. This was true both during Reconstruction and in the 1950s, when the modern civil rights movement gained strength. Today, the cause of states' rights is still invoked against federal social programs and education initiatives that are often beneficial to people of color. In other words, teaching the Civil War wrong cedes power to some of the most reactionary forces in the united States, letting them, rather than truth, dictate what we say in the classroom. Allowing bad history to stand literally makes the public stupid about the past--today.
Descriptors: United States History, War, Slavery, Civil Rights, African Americans, Federal Government, Federal Programs, Teaching Methods, History Instruction
Southern Poverty Law Center. 400 Washington Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36104. Tel: 334-956-8200; Fax: 334-956-8484; Web site: http://www.tolerance.org/teach/magazine/index.jsp
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A