As educators grapple with the latest attempts to stifle honest classroom discussions about white supremacy, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Learning for Justice project has released a new episode of its Teaching Hard History podcast to help K-12 teachers avoid false narratives about the Confederacy and the Civil War.
Now in Season 4, the podcast series offers advice and history lessons for teachers through conversations with scholars and educators. Episode 5 – “Correcting History: Confederate Monuments, Rituals and the Lost Cause” – can be heard here.
The latest episode features an interview with Karen L. Cox, author of No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice, which examines the polarizing debate around Confederate monuments in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd. Cox is a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she teaches Southern history and culture.
“I don’t teach critical race theory – I teach history,” Cox said about recent efforts to undermine classroom discussions about racial injustice. “And if you study history, then you have to understand the significance of race and slavery and segregation.”
During the episode, Cox offers insight to help educators build awareness about false narratives drawn by publications such as Edward Pollard’s 1866 book, The Lost Cause, a revisionist history of the Confederacy that has found its way into classroom textbooks. Cox suggests educators use primary sources to help tell the true story.
On the topic of why educators should take on difficult conversations about race and white supremacy, Cox said: “I think this is a topic that speaks to the diversity of your students and their experiences. And what it may feel like for a young white student is going to be different from how it may feel for a person of color or maybe a new immigrant in the community that may be in your classroom. I think it’s also important that we are educating this generation of students to be thoughtful, well-informed citizens so that, hopefully, they can avoid the pitfalls of false narratives that get perpetuated in politics and in popular culture.”
The full episode and more from the Teaching Hard History podcast are available here. The podcast is also available via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify.
Learning for Justice established the Teaching Hard History podcast after releasing a report by the same name in 2018 that found schools were not adequately educating students about African enslavement as part of America’s history.
The research showed that educators wanted to teach this history but lacked the resources to do it well. Learning for Justice has since expanded its offerings to include lessons on Indigenous enslavement and to reach students in grades K-12.
Learning for Justice offers a variety of tools to help educators discuss race and other social justice topics at www.learningforjustice.org.