Who Owns History?

The Southern Poverty Law Center is appalled by the results of a new study, which finds that states are not teaching the history of the civil-rights era. The SPLC, which commissioned the study of state curricula, concludes that students in at least 35 states are missing out on important facts about our history. And even in states that include units on civil rights, “their civil rights education boils down to two people and four words: Rosa Parks, Dr. King and ‘I have a dream.’”

On the one hand, you want to welcome disgruntled liberals to the club of those worried about historical amnesia among the young. We conservatives have been worrying about it for decades. On the other hand, it’s tough to believe that American students are being cheated out of knowledge about the civil-rights movement, compared with, say, knowledge about World War II, or the Progressive movement, or the nullification crisis. One of my sons, who has been educated in public schools most of his life, offered that in his experience, American history is taught as “the Revolution, the internment of the Japanese during World War II, and the Civil Rights movement.”

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