Books: Non-Fiction

Reconstruction: The Promise and Betrayal of Democracy

Book — Non-fiction. By Robert B. Moore with Beryle Banfield. 1983. 40 pages.
Critique and analysis of textbook coverage of the Reconstruction era.
Time Periods: 1865
Themes: Reconstruction

Reconstruction The Promise and Betrayal of Democracyproduced in 1983 by the Council of Interracial Books for Children (CIBC), is still relevant. The booklet includes a critique of U.S. history textbooks and a reader for students that outlines and dispels the textbook myths. (The filmstrip that accompanied the booklet is not currently available.)

Author Robert B. Moore wrote this description:

Common myths of the Reconstruction Era perpetuated by textbooks are examined and positive information to counter these myths is provided.

The presentation of Reconstruction in 12 secondary level U.S. history textbooks, published between 1979 and 1982, is analyzed.

The myths that are examined include the following: Black people were helpless and confused during Reconstruction, the freedpeople drifted aimlessly about the South, the land redistribution issue was an unfounded notion, freed Blacks lacked the skills needed to build independent lives, white men played the central role in post-war social change, Blacks were not smart, no white violence was used to overturn Reconstruction’s gains, Southern white men were not very successful lawmakers, Northern whites who participated in the Reconstruction governments were greedy adventurers and Reconstruction governments were often corrupt.

Also included are a bibliography of readings, a chronology of events of the Reconstruction Era, a list of textbooks used in the study, and statistics concerning Blacks in our society.

The consultants for the publication were John Henrik Clarke, William Loren Katz, and John Anthony Scott with the assistance of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (NYPL). The 40-page booklet is shared here for free download.

Published by the Council on Interracial Books for Children (CIBC).

Learn more in the Zinn Education Project national report, “Erasing the Black Freedom Struggle: How State Standards Fail to Teach the Truth About Reconstruction,” and find teaching resources on Reconstruction below.

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