The Three R’s- Reading, ‘Riting, and Race: The Evolution of Race in Mississippi History Textbooks, 1900-1995


Good textbookIn 1980, Mississippi public schools had been integrated for a decade, with white and black students sitting in the same classrooms and learning from the same textbooks.

In The Three R’s—Reading, ’Riting, and Race: The Evolution of Race in Mississippi History Textbooks, 1900-1995, Rebecca Miller Davis argues that discrimination and racism persisted in the schools because of the textbooks themselves. For much of the twentieth century, history textbooks de-emphasized or ignored racial, class, and gender history in order to present a unified narrative of American freedom, democracy, and equality. The result was a monochromatic, diluted, and largely false history. Textbook authors suffered from what some have called “historical amnesia” as they glossed over darker segments of the American experience, such as slavery and racism.

By Rebecca Miller Davis. Published in The Journal of Mississippi History Archives, Spring 2010.

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