MONTGOMERY, Ala. – As educators grapple with the latest attempts to shift the historical narrative about race in classroom lessons, Learning for Justice released a new episode this week on its Teaching Hard History podcast to help continue their important work of educating our nation’s children.
The podcast, which caters primarily to K-12 educators, offers teaching advice and history lessons through conversations with scholars and educators. The latest episode features an interview with Dr. 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 George Floyd’s death. Cox is a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she offers a variety of courses in southern history and culture.
“I don't teach critical race theory – I teach history,” Cox said about recent efforts to undermine classroom discussions about America’s history of 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 against false narratives drawn by publications like Edward Pollard’s The Lost Cause, a revisionist and whitewashed history of the American Civil War that has found its way into classroom textbooks. Instead, Cox suggests educators use primary sources to help tell the true story.
When asked why educators should take on difficult conversations about race, white supremacy, and related issues that may still be prevalent in their communities, Cox offered: “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 is available here. The podcast is also available via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify.
Learning for Justice, a program of the Southern Poverty Law Center, 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 want to teach this history but lacked the resources to do it well. Learning for Justice has since expanded their offerings regarding this history to include 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.