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Distorting history in Texas

Melvin B. Miller
Distorting history in Texas
A Texas history book drew fire for characterizing as immigrants blacks who were brought to the United States as slaves. (Photo: Dan Drew)

For some time African Americans have accused whites of being in denial about slavery, segregation and racial discrimination. Descendants of immigrants who came to the country after 1865 deny any liability for slavery, which was outlawed then by the 13th Amendment. And those who settled in the North or West insist that racial segregation was a practice of the South. A most extraordinary attempt at exoneration from involvement in racial abuse recently came from Texas, a Confederate slave state.

A McGraw-Hill textbook in public schools stated that Africans were brought to Texas from the 1500s through the 1800s as workers on large plantations. There was no mention that the blacks were enslaved, although the book mentioned that many Europeans also came as indentured servants. It is reported that the book publisher will correct these references.

The sale of school books is a big business. According to critics, the approval of textbooks by the Texas Board of Education has been politically driven for years. The slavery distortions were undoubtedly included by McGraw-Hill to make the book more attractive to state reviewers. The press must remain attentive to attempts to minimize the oppressive history of blacks living in the Confederacy, and thereafter.