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Inaccuracies in the Depiction of Africans and African Americans in Social Studies Textbooks

WHEREAS, Strategic Initiative Nine-Enhancing Educational Excellence, Goal 2 states: "Examine a broad range of educational structures and practices with the objectives of advocating for educational equity and student achievement"; and

WHEREAS, the practice of presenting and perpetuating the general perception of the Africans in school history texts as innately inferior as justification for slavery and the treatment of the freedmen following emancipation, does not advocate educational equity and student achievement of Africans American students; and

WHEREAS, the omission of specific data in documents in today's school history textbooks disproving the statement of inferiority continues, and is a criminal assault upon the hearts, souls, and minds of African-American students; and

WHEREAS, the omission of such data denies African-American students knowledge of historical facts that would engender pride in their inheritance; and

WHEREAS, the skills of Africans brought to America with their forced entry upon America's shores are not given full credit in school history texts; and

WHEREAS, photographs, graphs, drawings, and other illustrations denoting the skills and abilities of slaves are omitted from school history texts, students are denied knowledge about the inventive and creative abilities of the Africans and their descendants in America during the antebellum period in America; and

WHEREAS, school history texts glorify with many illustrations the product of slave labor, but not the unpaid laborers, describing it as King Cotton which made this country and countries abroad economically wealthy; and

WHEREAS, the many skills, arts, crafts, and creative abilities in music, (examples, Negro Spirituals and names of singers, like Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, born a slave, a talented singer who performed for Queen Victoria) possessed by slaves and "free people of color" are not written about nor illustrated with photographs, therefore, blatantly omitted from school history texts; and

WHEREAS, the service of Africans and African-Americans in each of America's wars is presented only in statistical numbers without quotes from documents attesting to the extent of their leadership and battlefield courage and a description of the dire and unsatisfactory conditions under which their service was rendered are omitted; and

WHEREAS, the service of fugitive slaves in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War is not described with sufficient credit in school history texts, even though their service earned thousands freedom; and

WHEREAS, the service of fugitive slaves, called contrabands in the Civil War, fled to Union lines and by their presence in thousands forced attention to their plight and fight for freedom, served as scouts, guides, and spies, and at times saved entire Union regiments from Rebel forces; and

WHEREAS, the contrabands enlisted when restrictions were lifted, also became like encyclopedias to Confederate territory with their knowledge of the topography of the land, its roads, and bridges, and with their eyes and ears gave reliable information to the Union unavailable from any other source, and with their strength and abilities gave service in non-combat tasks which freed soldiers to fight led the Union to victory, and earned their freedom; and

WHEREAS, Blacks served in the United States Navy in great numbers, little space is given to this service during the Civil War; and

WHEREAS, persons in the racial likeness of Benjamin Bradley, a slave inventor, are included. Bradley, "at the age of sixteen, showed great mechanical skill and with pieces of steel and other materials constructed a working model of a steam engine and after the sale of his first steam engine, built an engine large enough to drive the first cutter of a sloop-of-war at the rate of sixteen knots an hour." (Katz, Eyewitness. The Negro in American History, 1967, pp;115-116).

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that an active protest movement begin with the examination and evaluation of the school history textbooks of Scott Foresman, Houghton-Mifflin, Harcourt, and other publishers for omissions, distortions, bias, and insufficient coverage of the contributions of Africans and African Americans in America with emphasis upon the antebellum period and that efforts be made to affect changes in the books; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this committee demands that publishers' textbooks include the skills brought to America by Africans and that the craftsmanship of persons such as Horace King, a slave bridge builder; Thomas Day, a free man of color and furniture maker, and Gilbert Hunt, a slave carriage maker and blacksmith, and numerous others, are included in their books, and if available, their photographs are included; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the committee demand that the inventive ingenuity, and creative abilities of slaves and "free persons of color" be included in their books to the extent that the "inferiority perception" is entirely disproved with documentary evidence; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Norbert Rillieux whose invention revolutionized the production of sugar; slave Henry Blair, inventor of the seed-planting machine; and Benjamin Banneker, an astronomer, mathematician, and planner for the location of the Capitol and other federal buildings in the nation's capital along with other inventors' biographical summaries are included in school history texts to further substantiate the fact that the black race is not an inferior race, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the committee demand that textbooks admit the wrongs of slavery even though the proponents of freedom declared in documents that "all men were created equal" and furthermore that both George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and most presidents prior to Abraham Lincoln owned slaves; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that all students and especially, African-American students, will be able to read in their school history texts an accurate account of the contributions of African-Americans (in all fields of endeavor) to the settlement, growth, and development of this country.

Together Power Vote Hero - NAACP

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