1964: Detroit Board of Education Reviews WASP History Text

May 17, 2022 all-day

On May 17, 1964, the Detroit Board of Education was prepared to take up a request by a civil rights group to throw out a ninth-grade world history textbook because it “presents a grossly unrealistic, white-oriented, white-supremacist view of the world.”

The 712-page book is “World History,” subtitled, “The Story of Man’s Achievement” was found objectionable by the Group on Advanced Leadership (GOAL) because it deals primarily with “white history and the emergency of the European.”

This was not the only time the Detroit Board of Education heard complaints about textbooks.

After Superintendent Samuel Brownell and the Board of Education were blasted by the local NAACP for providing to its students a history textbook that did not accurately portray African Americans during the U.S. Civil War (May 1963?), DPS’ Department of Social Studies was compelled to research and publish “The Struggle for Freedom and Rights: The Negro in American History.” The controversial textbook “Our United States” continued to be used but a 57-page supplemental booklet for seventh and eighth graders was also provided.

Recent reporting suggests that today’s DPS textbooks are so old and out of date that students have been taking high-stakes standardized tests without fully understanding the material on which they are being tested. That’s crazy. The State of Michigan is largely to blame. Gubernatorial-appointed emergency managers have rule over the district for 15 of the last 18 years.

As DPSCD tosses out its outdated curriculum for one that is relevant and meet government guidelines, the time is right to include more local history that recognizes the contributions of area blacks, browns, Asians and others. Their triumphs and tragedies; our harmony and conflict.


Detroit Free Press

MIRS News Service, May 17, 2018

Ken Coleman, “Local history can help transform Detroit’s outdated curriculum“, Michigan Chronicle, May 3, 2018.

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