Power of Story Send a Tweet        
- Advertisement -

Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter 1 Share on Facebook 1 Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 1 (3 Shares)  

Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites (# of views)   6 comments
Life Arts

Jonathan Zimmerman on MLK, the FBI and What We Learn (or Don't) about American History and Why

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Joan Brunwasser       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink

Related Topic(s): ; ; , Add Tags  Add to My Group(s)

Must Read 1   Well Said 1   Valuable 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H3 9/28/10

Become a Fan
  (85 fans)
- Advertisement -

My guest today is Jonathan Zimmerman, professor of education and history at New York University. Welcome to OpEdNews, Jon. You recently wrote an article, "Movement Harassed by the FBI; Students need to know of attempts to discredit civil rights leaders." Exactly what is it we don't know and why don't we know it?

We don't know that Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders were wiretapped, harassed, and threatened by U.S. government officials throughout the 1960s. That's not part of our textbooks, because it doesn't fit the happy narrative that we tell about the civil rights era: brave African-Americans and their white liberal allies joined forces to defeat racist Southerners. The same supposed allies of the movement--including Robert F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson--also spied upon King and others, who were quite literally enemies of the state.

- Advertisement -

It's not surprising that whites in the South did not let go of segregation easily. But what was so threatening to Washington? Was it just plain racism? Resisting such sweeping change? Something else entirely?

- Advertisement -

I'm not sure the history supports the premise that the Southern "massive resistance" (to Brown) was "threatening" to Washington. Brown [Supreme Court decision on Brown v. Board of Education] came down in 1954, and it wasn't really until the 1970s that the federal courts took action to make Southern school districts comply with it.

And on the question of why the South resisted . . . well, the entire culture rested on white supremacy. It's not just that federal intervention challenged "racism;" instead, it challenged the basic structure of POWER in the American South.

To take that a step farther, if power is what determines what makes it into the history books, how do you get the word out about what really happened? American historian Howard Zinn was pretty successful at it, with A People's History of the United States, which has sold two million copies. But, as you point out in your article, mainstream textbooks still tell the old, distorted and misleading version of our history.

- Advertisement -

Well, I think we've come a long way. Remember, up until the 1960s, most American history textbooks described slavery as a beneficent institution devised by whites to civilize primitive blacks. Yes, there's still a lot of distortion in the books, as I pointed out in my article. But it's important to remember that we have revised the books, for the better . . .which suggests that we can do it again.

Developing materials and then revising them seems like an endless and complicated process. You're seem like the perfect guy to ask about it. Your second book, Whose America?: Culture Wars in the Public Schools [Harvard, 2002], discussed exactly that. For those of us who aren't familiar with Whose America , what can you tell us about the process?

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3


- Advertisement -

Must Read 1   Well Said 1   Valuable 1  
View Ratings | Rate It


Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon Share Author on Social Media   Go To Commenting

The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Follow Me on Twitter

Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Interview with Dr. Margaret Flowers, Arrested Tuesday at Senate Roundtable on Health Care

Renowned Stanford Psychologist Carol Dweck on "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success"

Howard Zinn on "The People Speak," the Supreme Court and Haiti

Fed Up With Corporate Tax Dodgers? Check Out PayUpNow.org!

Snopes confirms danger of Straight Ticket Voting (STV)

Literary Agent Shares Trade Secrets With New Writers