Mississippi Teachers Speak Out

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a so-called “CRT ban” into law last week. He claimed that critical race theory serves only to “indoctrinate” children and “humiliate” white people. As historian Stephen West pointed out, that’s the same language white supremacists used to attack Reconstruction.

When Reeves proposed a precursor to his bill two years ago, we offered people’s history books to Mississippi teachers. Their statements (below) expose Reeves’ lies and also the type of teaching the law is actually designed to suppress.

Gov. Reeves is attempting to instill a false narrative of historical events in the minds of Mississippi students. This is not acceptable.
— Middle school teacher, Cleveland, Mississippi

I refuse to lie to my students. I’m an educator, not an indoctrinator. They deserve to learn the truth about their country. My hope is that they will be inspired to be active and involved citizens when they grow up.
— Librarian, Jackson, Mississippi

We MUST teach ALL perspectives. It’s our job to create a generation of questioners and critical thinkers. Teaching them to think critically about history is a huge start!
— Middle school social studies teacher, Biloxi, Mississippi

My own APUSH teacher had us read A People’s History when I was in high school. It’s past time I revisit Zinn and incorporate that perspective into my own lessons. History students benefit from reading and discussing a range of perspectives, including those that are critical of how power imbalances have played out throughout our history.
— High school social studies teacher, Jackson, Mississippi

In a state with one of the most radical histories of organizing and fighting for liberation, it is both absurd and abhorrent to see the attempts to obstruct education and empowerment of young people.
— Middle school language arts teacher, the Delta, Mississippi

I have used materials from Howard Zinn in my classes for years. The resources are accurate and spark interest in students. After comparing traditional textbook information and resources from Zinn, students begin to research and dig deeper into topics and broaden their knowledge and understanding.
— High school social studies teacher, Collinsville, Mississippi

The governor of Mississippi does not have the capability or credentials to understand the harm that he’s trying to impose by his continued efforts to change or whitewash history.
— Middle school social studies teacher, Madison, Mississippi

I work very hard to keep my classroom library as diverse as possible. I think it is important as educators, especially in the state of Mississippi, that we make sure everyone’s voice is heard and everyone’s voice is readily available at students’ fingertips.
— Middle school language arts teacher, Hernando, Mississippi

These kids need to know this history. That’s it.
— Middle School Language Arts Teacher, Jackson, Mississippi

As William Faulkner said, “to understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi.” My goal as an instructor is to help my students see how our history has brought us to the present. I have admired Howard Zinn as a historian for years and bringing this material into my classroom will put the focus back on the people as being the center of our society!
— High School Social Studies Teacher, Brookhaven, Mississippi

I am always looking for new works to present to my class for a better understanding of history and since I teach in a predominately Black school I want my students to be exposed to other ideas that might not appear in their textbooks.
— High School Social Studies Teacher, Moss Point, Mississippi

Creating systems-level change in Mississippi that is sustainable requires a multi-generational approach. I focus my work on the younger generations and this book will help me do that work better and also be a resource I can share with others.
— High School Teacher, Jackson, Mississippi

As a theatre teacher at a majority-Black school, it is vital that the stories we tell are contextualized and researched correctly. These textbooks will offer resources for our students to develop their best, most accurate, and important work.
— High School Visual Arts Teacher, Jackson, Mississippi

I am a Black mother to a Black son and a Black female educator in the state of Mississippi. This is our home. I could have chosen to live anywhere else. but the work is needed here. I was introduced to the power of Black lives mattering by my 1993 9th grade Mississippi Studies teacher, Mr. Robert Smith. He taught the real truths of Mississippi with grit and without regret. I have never stopped wanting to learn and share more since this introduction. I want to carry his legacy of educating our young people on the truths, ugly and beautiful, of our history. The Zinn Education Project helps to accomplish my mission.
— Middle School Language Arts Teacher, Holly Springs, Mississippi

I want to show my students that the inequality that they face: the inequality of opportunity, the inequality of discipline, the inequality of outcomes; I want them to know it is not their fault.
— High School Social Studies Teacher, Gulfport, Mississippi

I want to present my students with a true and more complete look at history. There is so much information our textbooks are lacking.
— Middle School Social Studies Teacher, Meridian, Mississippi

I am appalled at how history is being erased and whitewashed. I witness it every single day. I would like to help dispel the myths and educate students with the truth.
— Middle School Science Teacher, Tishomingo, Mississippi

I work in a school that is 100% African American. My students deserve to learn different narratives that reflect and highlight their history — like challenging the myth of the paternalism of enslavers. I recently used the slave resistance lesson from your website. Even in bondage, enslaved African Americans used what little agency they had to resist and form community.
— High School Social Studies Teacher, Purvis, Mississippi

I want to ensure that my students are hearing stories of all the different cultures in the United States. It is important to tell those untold stories of the many different peoples impacted in the United States, not just the stories of white European settlers.
— High School Social Studies Teacher, Jackson, Mississippi

It is SO important that students are taught to think for themselves. It is our job as educators to present the world to students in an unbiased way that allows them to make their own decisions.
— High School Language Arts Teacher, Cleveland, Mississippi

I am appalled at the notion of combatting a “revisionist history.” The initiative proposed by the Mississippi governor and the President’s “1776 Commission” is itself revisionist history. During the presentations of the Republican National Convention this year, individuals were presented to denounce the evils of socialism and to raise alarms of the dangers it presents, but it angers me to have leaders who want to denounce other systems and nations while downplaying the evils and injustices that have been perpetrated within our own nation and democratic system. Students need to be able to learn the good, bad, and ugly of U.S. history so that they may discern for themselves the values, perspectives, and systems needed to form a democracy that gives dignity to the human experience and our collective interests. I have been challenged by the perspectives I’ve learned from Howard Zinn’s works, and I hope to challenge my students in similar ways.
— High School Social Studies Teacher, Jackson, Mississippi

I teach in one of the poorest areas in Mississippi, the town where Martin Luther King started the Mule Train. I don’t have many resources in my school and I would love to be able to add y’all’s stuff to my classroom, especially in light of the recent budget proposal put forth by Tate Reeves. The resources you offer are more important now than ever before.
— Middle School Language Arts Teacher, Marks, Mississippi

I would like A People’s History because I work to engage my students in the discomfort of thinking. The basis of that discomfort is formed by the hard truths uncovered through oft-untold stories. People’s history helps us access these stories which will ultimately empower students.
— High School Social Studies Teacher, Canton, Mississippi

After hearing of Gov. Reeves’ Patriotic Education initiative, I am further motivated to protect my students’ educational experience. The Zinn Education Project leads a supportive role in my secondary social studies curriculum development. I am appreciative of the counter initiative.
— High School Social Studies Teacher, Clarksdale, Mississippi

Mississippi students need all the help they can to understand how they fit into the Atlantic Slave Trade and the resounding effects of that trade on the Civil Rights Movement and the low level of education that exists in the state of Mississippi today.
— High School Social Studies Teacher, Natchez, Mississippi 

The materials at my school are so old and limited. This would give me more resources to share with my class. Thank you for your generosity.
— Middle School Social Studies Teacher, Eupora, Mississippi

My students love to borrow books from my personal classroom library. I am always on the hunt for books that will inspire, educate, and encourage them.
— Middle School Math Teacher, Petal, Mississippi

While my school does its best to support our needs, there is never too much assistance. I am doing my best to learn our nation’s TRUE history and to teach my students in a way that is not sugar-coated but appropriate for them.
— Middle School Social Studies Teacher, Ocean Springs, Mississippi

I currently use many of the lessons available on the Zinn Education Project website. Having access to the text would help me provide context to the lessons I already implement and encourage my students to think critically about the world around them.
— High School Social Studies Teacher, Ridgeland, Mississippi

A People’s History helps me incorporate history into my lessons authentically. Kids know what’s up, and they know when the information they’re being presented with isn’t painting the full picture. These resources help me paint that full picture and empower me and my students to view history from a people’s perspective.
— High School School Language Arts Teacher, Meridian, Mississippi

My students love making connections between literature, the past, and present issues they see in society — but often have understandings of history that are rooted in archetypes, simplified narratives, and erasures. I find it necessary to spotlight activists and leaders from marginalized communities, the South, and/or from Mississippi specifically, to help complicate and deepen their narrative of the past and the present. More resources to do so are always needed!
— High School School Language Arts Teacher, Jackson, Mississippi

My students have a limited view of history and are not exposed to what is not in standard textbooks. Any widening of their perspective would be a positive for them.
— Middle School Special Education Teacher, Como, Mississippi

I think it is extremely important to teach all aspects of history, not just the stuff that makes us look good. Otherwise, we are doing a disservice to future generations.
— High School Social Studies Teacher, Oxford, Mississippi

In solidarity with Mississippi educators and students, the Zinn Education Project continues to send a people’s history text and lessons to any middle or high school public school teacher or librarian who requests them. This is possible thanks to donations from individuals (like you) and from publishers, including Beacon Press, Haymarket Books, Seven Stories Press, HarperCollins, and The New Press.

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