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February 02, 2018


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Bill Turnier

I read the op-ed by you and Prof. Barrett as well as Prof. Zietlow’s Post with interest. While I sit comfortably on my couch sipping my espresso, let me suggest a related field of research to you three that cuts across your topics. The state approved history books adopted in Southern states for instruction in public schools during the Jim Crow era were atrocious and blatantly racist and probably had more to do with creating a toxic public environment than works by professional historians. When I was a student at UVA Law in the mid 60s, my wife who then taught in public schools got her hands on a book in current use and gave it to me for use on a student law review piece on the state of race relations in VA. It depicted the Reconstruction era as the work of troublesome Yanks who stirred up trouble among the good black folk who previously had been happy with their lot, so happy that they were in a state of near constant song and dance. I presume that state departments of education may have retained copies of the books adopted for use in the Jim Crow era. They would be very interesting to read.

Jeff Rice

The legacy of U.B. Phillips is interesting in two ways: Eugene Genovese has a slight admiration as he tended to do for those who glorified the 'anti-capitalist' South and having had to read it back in 1969 in a class on American Intellectual History as an example of pro-slavery writing. Neither of these argues against your basic point but unlike statues, books have a more multifaceted life.

Al Brophy

Thanks for both of these comments. Bill, one of these days I need to get into the primary and secondary school textbooks. And Jeff, I was thinking the other day about Genovese's introduction to a reprint of UB Phillips' American Negro Slavery -- I guess this was the 1980s. He had admiration for Phillips' research, though skepticism of the interpretation. Books (I'd say like monuments) can serve different purposes depending on who's reading them.

Soon I want to talk about an article from the Yale Law Journal in 1903 by John Dos Passos' father (also named John Dos Passos). It's about disfranchisement of African American voters. I've been reading this for an essay review of Melissa Milewski's Litigating Across the Color Line.

Peter Hoffer

Why haven't the German publishing giants Von Holzbrink and Bertelsmann apologized for their support of the Nazi regime?

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