Teach Banned History

The teaching of African American history is under attack. Right wing politicians are pulling books with LGBTQ themes and stories about anti-racism off the shelves. State officials demand that professors in Florida state universities turn over their emails. Conservatives use the terms “critical race theory” and “woke” to stoke fear just like the word “communist” was used during the McCarthy era.

Yet President Biden uttered not one word in his State of the Union address about this terrifying censorship of knowledge and inquiry.

We will not be silent.

Here are lessons and more resources to help students make sense of these times.

Subversives: Stories from the Red Scare

By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca

We know the threats we face today are systemic, not embodied by any one individual, no matter how outrageous we may find the latest moves by Florida Gov. DeSantis. Students deserve to know that likewise the McCarthy era was about a lot more than Russian spies, a blustering senator from Wisconsin, and a Hollywood blacklist.

This lesson restores the powerful and inspiring stories of activists and organizations who were victims of the Red Scare. One of the guiding tenets of the Zinn Education Project is that the social change so desperately needed will never come from above, from presidents and CEOs. It will come from people like us, our students — and the many everyday people profiled in this lesson.

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Testing, Tracking, and Toeing the Line

By Bill Bigelow

The College Board that refused to stand by their new African American studies course also administers and profits from the SATs. This is a good time to examine the origins and purpose of high stakes testing.

Bill Bigelow introduces this lesson: “What we don’t teach in school can be more important than what we do teach. When we fail to engage students in thinking critically about their own schooling, the hidden message is: Don’t analyze the institutions that shape your lives; don’t ask who benefits, who suffers, and how it got to be this way; just shut up and do as you’re told.”

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Teach Truth Syllabus

Find many more lessons that are threatened by the educational gag orders in our Teach Truth Syllabus.

Teach Truth Syllabus


Kimberlé Crenshaw on Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality & the Right-Wing War on Public Education

Kimberlé Crenshaw on Democracy Now!

Nobody can be surprised when suddenly this effort to stomp out critical race theory turns out to be an effort to make antiracism unspeakable, to make queer studies undoable, to make intersectionality — one of the most widespread concepts across the disciplines — something that college-directed students cannot take or can only take if the states allows them to. Anybody who’s concerned about our democracy, anyone who’s concerned about authoritarianism has to wake up and pay attention to this, because this is how it happens. — Kimberlé Crenshaw on Democracy Now!

Watch Interview

I Saw Death Coming Online Class with Kidada E. Williams

Textbooks often reduce the story of the Great Migration to a response to segregation, rather than to pervasive white supremacist violence. And now education gag orders threaten teachers’ ability to tell that fuller history of the 20th century.

Listen to this conversation with Kidada E. Williams and Jessica Rucker about the history of violence and African Americans’ brave resistance. As Dr. Williams explains,

In many ways, testimonies such as theirs about torture, disabling injuries, trauma, displacement, and dispossession serve as a moral ledger documenting the pillaging of families’ freedom.

Watch Interview

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