Thank you for signing the petition to school boards to increase the amount of time and resources devoted to the Reconstruction era. Note that your name, city, state, and comment (if you added one) will appear on the petition page. (If you prefer not to have your name appear, email us so that we can remove it.)
The Reconstruction era is full of powerful examples of how interracial grassroots alliances came together in the aftermath of the Civil War to redefine citizenship, expand voting rights, and change laws that institutionalized discrimination. The centuries-long struggle for the vote is similarly powerful and inspiring, and necessary, as voter suppression once again corrupts our electoral process.
Yet many in the United States don’t understand this history — or how they, too, can work toward a more perfect union — because it is often left out or rushed through in textbooks, curricula, and classrooms. Students exposed to this history at all are often given an imbalanced view that emphasizes the violent white supremacist backlash over the important victories of Black activists and their allies during Reconstruction. This emphasis deprives students of the opportunity to appreciate and learn from the successes and examples of Reconstruction while simultaneously obscuring the causes of the Jim Crow regime that followed.
The Zinn Education Project offers lessons for middle and high school, a student campaign to make Reconstruction history visible in their communities, and an annotated list of recommended teaching guides, student friendly books, primary document collections, and films. This campaign is informed by teachers who have used our Reconstruction lessons and a team of Reconstruction scholars. Find these resources and more at the Teach Reconstruction campaign.
Open Letter on Reconstruction from Scholars of U.S. History
By signing the petition, you have joined the more than 170 noted scholars of U.S. history who have signed an open letter with this same call, including Eric Foner, Ibram X. Kendi, Isabel Wilkerson, Bryan Stevenson, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Charles Payne, Kate Masur, James Loewen, Greg Carr, Keisha Blain, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Erica Armstrong Dunbar, and Jeanne Theoharis.
National Report on Teaching Reconstruction
The Zinn Education Project is producing a national report on the teaching of the Reconstruction era, including a state-by-state assessment, to be released by the summer of 2021.
The report will examine state standards, course requirements, frameworks, and support for teachers in each state. It will also include stories about creative efforts by districts and/or individual teachers in each state to teach outside the textbook about Reconstruction.