Education Reform

Brian Franklin: The Contradiction Between Celebrating Juneteenth and Banning Discussion of Racism

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Brian Franklin, a historian at Southern Methodist University, wonders how the politicians in Texas can reconcile their support for teaching about Juneteenth while banning honest teaching about slavery and racism. Franklin previously wrote a brilliant article about Governor Abbott’s “1836 Project” to teach Texas history based on the founding documents. He pointed out that the state’s founding documents were shot through with racism.

In this new article, he writes:

On June 16, Texas history made the news twice. Both developments, in strikingly different ways, present an opportunity for history teachers to engage with their students anew about history, with all its intriguing complications, and its promise for teaching us today.

The bill’s supporters bar teachers from teaching their students even the concept that slavery was part of the founding ideals of the United States.

In a strangely bipartisan scene, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution to establish Juneteenth (June 19) as a national holiday, to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, a Democrat, joined Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican, and Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat, in leading the effort.

Later that afternoon, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott unceremoniously signed HB 3979 into law, a bill that joins a host of others across the country known by some as “anti-1619” bills. In this act to alter the social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools, the bill’s supporters bar teachers from teaching their students even the concept that slavery was part of the founding ideals of the United States.

Spirit of Sam Houston, we have a problem.

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