Virginia Tip Line Targets Lessons on the Black Freedom Struggle

In the first month of his administration, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has unveiled a host of directives to ban “inherently divisive concepts” from the state’s classrooms. Youngkin’s initiatives join a well-orchestrated right-wing assault on truthful teaching about race.

He joins Republican officials and residents of dozens of states who are working to suppress truthful teaching with anti-history laws and measures that echo tactics of the McCarthy era. In one chilling move, Youngkin has even set up a tip line for students’ family members to report teachers who they believe are “behaving objectionably.”

Our new national report, Erasing the Black Freedom Struggle: How State Standards Fail to Teach the Truth About Reconstruction, is designed as a resource to resist this anti-history onslaught.

It includes instances of Reconstruction history in each state — teachable vignettes.

The Virginia Reconstruction vignette features Bayley Wyatt, a freedman forcibly removed by the U.S. Army from land he had maintained since the close of the Civil War. In 1866, Wyatt protested his eviction and advocated for freedpeople’s “divine right to the land” they inhabited.

This is one of many stories from Reconstruction’s inspiring Black freedom struggle in Virginia — one that Youngkin wants to ban from classrooms and erase from the historical record. 

See a shortlist of events in Virginia Reconstruction history in the report and in our This Day in History series. We welcome suggestions for new entries, in support of educators who #TeachTruth. And read the Reconstruction report vignette for your state.

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