Dr. James W. Loewen, Truth-Teller
I lost a friend when Dr. James W. Loewen passed last week (August 19, 2021). James Loewen was Professor Emeritus from the University of Vermont, a sociologist, a historian, and as the New York Times said, "...a civil rights champion who took high school teachers, college professors, and textbook publishers to task for distorting American history, overlooking Racism, and particularly the struggle of Black people in the South, by oversimplifying their experience and omitting the ugly parts." Dr. Loewen died Thursday August 19, 2021 in Bethesda, Md. He was 79.
“Those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat the 11th grade,” Dr. Loewen wrote in “Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong” (1995), the best known of his dozen books attacking historical misconceptions. According to Loewen himself, the book was aimed to challenge the white, Eurocentric view of the American past. It has sold 2,000,000 copies.
I met Dr. Loewen ---he insisted I call him Jim---a number of years ago. He considered me, and I considered him, a Friend. I brought him to Jacksonville in 2010 for the 50th Commemorative Anniversary of the Jacksonville Youth Council NAACP 1960 Sit-ins and Ax Handle Saturday.
He spoke at the Schultz Center to a packed house of local schoolteachers...he spoke, appropriately, at Bethel Baptist Institutional Church’s Historic Sanctuary ...and he spoke at Florida Community College at Jacksonville, North Campus to a breakfast reception hosted by North Campus President, Dr. Barbara Darby.
I was in Washington DC (2017) for the book signing and the book release of Ta-Nehisi Coates' remarkable book, “We Were Eight Years In Power.” Jim was my guest along with my nephew, Cassius Priestly, and his lovely wife, my niece Jacqulyn, and friends, Mrs. Elaine Ford Jackson, and Mrs. Jackson’s daughter, Mrs. Sherri Edmond Fennell. The release was held at Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, DC. Looking back at that event, it was fitting --for me-- to have attended such an event at historical Metropolitan AME with family, friends, and Dr. Loewen. The following evening, I had dinner at Jim’s home with his wife Susan, and noted historian and Civil War expert, the late Hari Jones (assistant director and curator of the African American Civil War Freedom Foundation and Museum in Washington, D.C.. Hari passed the following year). Talking with Two Legends! You Just Listen!
“History is by far our worst-taught subject in high school,” Dr. Loewen told "The Atlantic" in 2018. “I think we’re stupider in thinking about the past than we are, say, in thinking about Shakespeare, or algebra, or other subjects. Historians tend to make everything so nuanced that the idea of truth almost disappears.”
Jim would remark to me, “American History is full of B.S.” His “B.S” meant “Bad Scholarship.”
Dr. Loewen dismantled a fictionalized American History, exposed towns which historically excluded minorities, admonished teachers and historians for dumbing history lessons down, and as an expert witness, dealt with defendants in 50 class-action lawsuits who, according to his expert testimony, victimized people in civil rights, voting rights and job discrimination cases.
Dr. Loewen began his half-century as a university professor of sociology in 1968 at Tougaloo College, a HBCU in Mississippi. Facing his first freshman class, he posed a seemingly simple question for 17 students: “What is Reconstruction?” “Well,” he recalled them saying, “Reconstruction was the period right after the Civil War when Blacks took over the government of the Southern states. But they were too soon out of slavery, and so they screwed up and white folks had to take control again.”
Dr. Loewen’s heart sank, he told NPR in 2018. It was a glimpse of the enormous task before him: setting the historical record straight for Mississippi’s — and America’s — young students. Patiently, he explained to his class: Black people never took over the Southern states. They all had white governors, and all but one had white legislative majorities. Reconstruction governments did not “screw up.” They created the best constitutions the South had ever had, and better governments than any others in the South in the 19th century. And whites did not put things right by taking control again. The people who took charge were white supremacists, and some were original Ku Klux Klansmen.
Dr. Loewen left Tougaloo College in 1975 and for most of the next 20 years taught sociology, with an emphasis on race relations, at the University of Vermont. He was Professor Emeritus at the University of Vermont. In 1995 he published “Lies My Teacher Told Me,” his study of 12 history textbooks widely used in America. That book, which accused historians of propagating blind patriotism and sanitized optimism, and virulent racism, was acclaimed by critics and won the American Book Award. The book comprises famous chapters like 'The Truth About the First Thanksgiving', 'Gone With the Wind: The Invisibility of American Racism in American Textbooks.' Updated editions were issued in 2005, 2008 and 2018 by the New Press, which has called the book its all-time best seller.
Since 1996, Dr. Loewen had lived in Washington, where he was a visiting professor at the Catholic University of America. He lectured nationally and internationally. His other books include, “Lies My Teacher Told Me About Christopher Columbus: What Your History Books Got Wrong” (1992) and “Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong” (1999). His book “Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism” (2005) documented the stories of thousands of communities from 1890 to 1968 that systematically, and often forcibly, excluded Black people, Jews and others. The word “sundown” referred to signs at city limits that warned Black people not to “let the sun go down on you” there.
"Telling the truth about the past helps cause justice in the present. Achieving justice in the present helps us tell the truth about the past." --Dr. James Loewen
It was not often I got a chance to talk with a White academic--an esteemed White academic--on a regular basis who was not afraid to talk about the Racism of American History. Talking with Dr. James W. Loewen afforded me that opportunity. I will miss our conversations...his dry (very) wit...HIS academic honesty...and I will always admire his never ending mission to correct the wrongs of what I call an Incomplete, Dishonest, and a Racist American History.
Sleep Well, MY Friend. You have earned your rest.
AFTER LISTENING AND WATCHING THE EMERGENCY DUVAL COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD MEETING TODAY -August 23, 2021- to deal with "a mask mandate" in light of the amazing and potentially deadly upsurge of the Delta Variant affecting OUR children--it is still on one of PBS cable stations--I am more convinced than ever...and I did not have to go far to arrive at this decision...Jacksonville/Duval County is in Real Sad/Bad/Terrible/Awful shape. Watching Jacksonville's Ignorance On Parade of "conspiracy theorists" and "ne'er-do-wells" is a Sad Commentary on Jacksonville's Potential as a responsible "Think Tank" City of Mature Thinkers.
BTW...The Duval County DID vote 5-2 to impose a mask mandate. Duval County's Covid cases in the School System now exceed 800. Last year at this time, it was 40.
Very few things are as disheartening, disappointing, and frustrating than to hear those who you thought a lot of, and had confidence in, tell you they are not going to "get vaccinated" FOR WHATEVER REASONS. It Makes No Sense.
HEAR YE! HEAR YE!! HEAR THIS!!! PLEASE PASS THIS ON TO THOSE WITH A NEED TO KNOW!!!!
3 of the 5 Cyber Ninjas "conducting" the Arizona "audit to prove trump won" Presidential re-election have tested positive for Covid.
2 of the 3 are hospitalized. So the "audit" will be delayed long enough for them to get their injection of disinfectant and bleach. The UV light will come later.
THAT IS ALL!
I will kidnap you as a White inferior person, from your European homeland of birth where you will work for centuries for me and other Black slave owners.
• I will separate you as a White inferior male from your White family during your enslavement.
• As a White inferior person, I will make sure you realize I am your Black slave owner and Black Plantation master and I am in total charge.
• I will make sure you do not know how to read and write as a White inferior person. I will severely punish those who teach you to read and write, and I will cut out your tongue and/or put you to death if I find you have been taught to read and write.
• I will rape your White females as a means of continuous breeding of White slaves from birth.
• I will withdraw from this country and fight as a terrorist government and army to maintain White slavery.
• I will never apologize for keeping you in bondage as a White inferior person, even if White slavery ends.
• I will exact my will on you as a White inferior person, even after the so-called end of slavery by having my Black riders and my Black warriors lynch and use other means of violence to keep you in your place.
• My Black Knights will ride in your neighborhoods constantly so as a White inferior person you know I am still in charge.
• I will pass "John Eagle" laws so as a White inferior person you will know what Whites cannot do. I will let you know what you can do.
• I will allow you to vote as a White inferior person, only if your White grandfather voted. Since your White grandfather was a slave, he could not vote, and therefore you cannot vote. Correspondingly you cannot hold elective office.
• I will make sure your White descendants as White inferior persons, have to pass an impassable literacy test to vote.
• I will allow you to serve in the military as a White inferior person, but only in separate units. Even after you serve in the military and return home, I will not allow you to enter any establishment that caters to Superior Blacks.
• I will continuously pass laws to let you know as a White inferior person that Blacks are in charge and there is no equal place for Whites no matter your station in life. Segregation Today! Segregation Tomorrow! Segregation Forever
• As a White inferior person, School segregation is the Law of the land. Your White children cannot attend (the better) schools with Black children.
• I will make sure as a White inferior person; you cannot play professional baseball with Black baseball players.
• I will make sure as a White inferior person; you cannot play professional basketball with Black basketball players.
• I will make sure as a White inferior person; you cannot play professional football with Black football players.
• As a White inferior person; you cannot serve in the military as equals with Black servicemen. I will however allow you to do the menial jobs such as cooks and custodians.
• I will assassinate your White leaders in your so-called quest for equality and will allow the murderers to run free and never be apprehended because I do not give damn.
• I will use Black law enforcement officers to murder you and other White inferior persons and use the courts to exonerate them because I can.
• I will never allow a Black person to go to jail for murdering a White inferior person. One Black life is far superior to one White life.
• I will make sure the South rises again and will do everything in my power to return things to the way they used to be with Blacks in charge. I call it Make America Great Again, returning to the days when Blacks were in charge. Racism Today! Racism Tomorrow! Racism Forever!
AS A WHITE PERSON, YOU DON’T LIKE BLACK PRIVILEGE DO YOU?
AS A BLACK PERSON, I DON'T LIKE WHITE PRIVILEGE EITHER!
WHITE AMERICA IS NOW UNDERSTANDING AND IS REAPING THE AFTERMATH OF DEGENERATE AND IMMORAL DECADES OF DESPICABLE AND IGNORANT RACISM. donald trump is proof positive what happens when White America did not deal with, and continually refused to deal with the core racist attitudes it empowered and emboldened. While White America was thinking electing a White racist was not that bad, donald trump, THE White racist showed White America how bad it and he could really be.
donald trump is a miserable twit of a man who used his White Privilege and his White Racism to ascend to heights which far exceeded his educational and intellectual prowess and expertise. He was the veritable “clumsy and unskillful bull in a China shop.” His braggadocio got him through a few doors, but it could not prevent him going through the doors of 6 inartful bankruptcies, while exposing his total lack of entrepreneurial skills. But he was “playing” with the money DADDY left him, not that he has any track record of any consequence of his own.
Yet his cheating, his scamming, his chiseling, his conniving, his slickerisms, and his grifting (well documented in God knows how many books) kept getting him through; But like most “rich” boys with toys, none of that was enough. He needed and wanted expansive power. The kind of expansive which only comes with being the most powerful man in the world…the President of the United States of America.
And of course, as we have seen, nothing is impossible for White folks when they have THEIR White Privilege and THEIR White Racism going for them. Why would you need skills, elegance, decision-making, maturity, sensibleness, reliability, and wisdom to offer? In donald trump’s case, Why Indeed? Just White Privilege, White Racism, and oh yes, that braggadocio.
To get that expansive power, this racist scamp ran for President…plugged into the sea of racism which his father taught him and which willingly flows in these As Yet United States of America and available to him…he got elected.…he had the most scandal plagued presidential administration in the history of presidential administrations…he used used the American Treasury and those American people he called his MAGA nation to line his pockets with the fruits of his grifting skills. We can now add Inciting an insurrection, Politicizing the Justice Department, Obstructing the Mueller investigation, Abusing the pardon power, and Profiting off the presidency, which he did from Day one.
That’s part and parcel of the White Privilege piece. The White Racism pieces…he brought in some the most racist presidential advisers in the history of presidential advisers-can you say Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller?...He claimed a judge was biased because “he’s a Mexican”...how can we forget the
The Justice Department sued his company ― twice ― for not renting to Blacks.
Workers at Trump’s casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, accused him of racism over the years. The New Jersey Casino Control Commission fined the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino $200,000 in 1992 because managers would remove African-American card dealers at the request of a certain big-spending gambler. A state appeals court upheld the fine.
He has the unmitigated gall to claim he “actually won” the Presidential election in 2020 and SOMEHOW the election was stolen from him...and of course, huge numbers of Blacks who voted must have done SOMETHING illegal, as if Blacks in this country-not the Bent Back Negro variety-but Blacks who understand their blackness, would actually vote for the re-election of a racist. This list is REAL LONG.
White America outdid itself with this latest historical version of “We can do whatever we want to do because we are White. ”Question…How do you like him now?
WHAT WILL IT TAKE?
IT IS DISGUSTING HOW REPUBLICANTS ARE PLAYING WITH YOUR LIVES AND EQUALLY DISGUSTING THAT MANY OF YOU ARE WILLING TO SACRIFICE YOUR HEALTH AND YOUR LIVES FOR THEM. NO MASK MANDATES AND NO VACCINE DIRECTIVES, AND YOU ARE OK WITH THAT, RIGHT?
Ron DeSantis's Florida has its worst COVID day yet!!!
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is still refusing to do anything to slow down the spread of the Coronavirus and the Delta Variant -- and on Friday, August 6, 2021 the Sunshine State reported its WORST-EVER day of the pandemic.
Howard Forman, a professor of public health policy at the Yale School of Management, wrote on Twitter that Florida's COVID positivity testing rate hit an astonishing seven-day average of 18.9 percent on Friday, while its weekly vaccination total actually fell despite the fact that the virus has been exploding throughout the state for weeks.
"NOTHING is trending better," Forman said. In total, Florida reported nearly 23,000 new cases on Friday, a record number that exceeded even the worst of the pandemic over the winter.
Florida broke its record for hospitalized patients for the fifth straight day, and an estimated one out of every 1,600 Florida residents is now hospitalized with the disease. WHAT WILL IT TAKE?
FOR THOSE WHO ARE REFUSING to wear masks and are "trying" to justify their refusal to get Covid vaccinations, even with strong recommendations by doctors and scientists, why not just stop taking medications prescribed by your doctors for your various ailments?
BTW #1...WHY listen to your doctors?
BTW #2...YOU don't know what is in YOUR PRESCRIBED medications either.
ANOTHER RACIST HYPOCRITICAL REPUBLICANT ATTACK ON PUBLIC EDUCATION...AND ANOTHER THEFT OF PUBLIC EDUCATION DOLLARS.
Florida Republicans Are Using The COVID Upsurge which they are responsible for, to Weaken Public Schools.
Florida approves private school vouchers if parents say children feel bullied by a district's mask-wearing rules.
The claim that a student can feel bullied by an inanimate object is ridiculous, but it does provide Republicans in Florida with a fresh inroad for attacking public schools.
The scheme is diabolical. Florida Republicans, led by Gov. Ron DeSantis, ban schools from imposing mask mandates and then give state money to students under the pretense of “bullying” to get them enrolled in private schools.
The Republican plan is another attack on public education disguised as an anti-bullying measure.
Rodney. L. Hurst, Sr.