A recent report from The Guardian found that three popular US history textbooks refer to slavery as "Black immigration." Further analysis also found that a textbook described Nelson Mandela's campaign to end apartheid as "radical affirmative action."
Throughout the course of the report, The Guardian examined textbooks made by Abeka, Bob Jones University Press and Accelerated Christian Education. It is unclear how many US students use these textbooks, but a recent statement from Abeka's website found that their books reach more than one million students each year. Accelerated Christian Education claims that "tens of thousands" in more than "140 countries" use their books. Furthermore, a report from HuffPost found that approximately 2,400 schools use textbooks made by Abeka, Bob Jones University Press or Accelerated Christian Education. This is an alarming statistic considering some of the statements made in these textbooks.
One Accelerated Christian Education textbook refers to the Civil War as a battle "between the states" rather than a fight between the Union and the Confederacy. It also attempts to equate abolitionist movements to slavery.
“[The] end of slavery in this country was a legitimate goal, but much was done in the name of abolition that was as evil as the institution of slavery itself," a passage of an Accelerated Christian Education textbook states.
Other portions of Accelerated Christian Education literature sympathize with former slave owners following the Civil War. It also describes many Black legislators that entered Congress during Reconstruction as "illiterate or incompetent men."
"Under radical reconstruction, the south suffered. Great southern leaders and much of the old aristocracy were unable to vote or hold office. The result was that state legislatures were filled with illiterate or incompetent men. Northerners who were eager to make money or gain power during the crisis rushed to the south," the textbook states, according to The Guardian.
"For all these reasons, reconstruction led to graft and corruption and reckless spending. In retaliation, many southerners formed secret organizations to protect themselves and their society from anarchy. Among these groups was the Ku Klux Klan, a clandestine group of white men who went forth at night dressed in white sheets and pointed white hoods.”
Accelerated Christian Education is not alone in making statements that enrage many. A textbook from Abeka argues that Black Lives Matter is to blame for recent acts of police brutality.
"Groups such as black lives matter (BLM) sharpened the divide between police and citizen, and black and white, with divisive rhetoric,” the textbook claims.
Rightwing textbooks don't stop at making statements about race. There are also offensive statements made about sexuality. An Abeka history textbook reportedly claims that "increased acceptance of homosexuality" has led to a decline in "American family values." The textbook also attempts to tie this shift in American society to former President Barack Obama. A Bob Jones University Press world history book also claims that former President Barack Obama is responsible for the uprisings that followed the deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray.
"Unfortunately, Americans’ views of race relations declined after Obama came into office. Race riots in places such as Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, greatly escalated racial tensions and worsened strife between minorities and local police,” the textbook reportedly states.
“President Obama’s attempts to resolve these problems often seemed to make the situation worse.”
Reports of this nature come amid a national debate regarding critical race theory in American classrooms. Within the last week, school boards in Alabama and Colorado have banned critical race theory in public school classrooms. Moving forward, school boards in Nebraska and Wisconsin are expected to hold votes that will determine whether or not critical race theory will be accepted in public school settings. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton has also taken steps to ban critical race theory nationally.
Despite the pushback against critical race theory, academics and educators like Dr. Lamont Hill of Temple University and Dr. Adam Laats question the motives and merit of the arguments made against it.
“The heart and soul of the anti-CRT outburst is this anxiety of the changing protagonists in the story of American history,” Laats told The Guardian.
“I think that’s what captures part of what these textbook manufacturers have been doing forever with American history.”