Find Jim Loewen’s new edition of Teaching What Really Happened here.
In the early 1970s, I led an effort to write an accurate history of the state of Mississippi, owing to the inaccuracies and blatant racism of the only existing history and its dismal effect on high school students. I put together a team of teachers and students from Tougaloo and from Millsaps College, the “white school” in Jackson. Charles Sallis, professor of history at Millsaps, became my co-editor. The result, Mississippi: Conflict and Change, amounted to the multicultural history of the state. It won the Lillian Smith Award for Best Southern Nonfiction of 1975. Nevertheless, the State of Mississippi rejected it for school use. As a result, we (Sallis and I, joined by a public school district under black control, the statewide Catholic schools, and the private Episcopal high school in Jackson) filed Loewen et al. v. Turnipseed, et al. (488 F. Supp. 1138), in 1975. We finally won it in 1980.
All this is the subject of a new book by Charles Eagles, professor of history at Ole Miss, Civil Rights, Culture Wars: The Fight over a Mississippi Textbook, now published by the University of North Carolina Press. Here is what UNC Press says about it: “Charles W. Eagles explores the story of the controversial ninth-grade history textbook and the court case that allowed its adoption with state funds. Mississippi: Conflict and Change and the struggle for its acceptance deepen our understanding both of civil rights activism in the movement’s last days and of an early controversy in the culture wars that persist today.”
I’m excited to have a major publisher of Southern history publish a book by a major Southern historian about our book and lawsuit. The American Library Association listed the lawsuit as one of a dozen cases that undergirds Americans’ “right to read” today, so it has not been forgotten. It was also the subject of the cover story in The Journal of Mississippi History (Spring 2010) by Rebecca Miller Davis. Now Eagles’ book will make it easier to remember…