Racially Biased Textbooks in Detroit

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Detroit’s public schools were using textbooks in the 1960s that were racially biased towards whites and against minorities. Two of the textbooks, A History of the United States [to 1876] and The American Nation: A History of the United States, display bias against Native Americans and African Americans by omitting, downplaying, and undermining the hardships, struggles, and brutalities they had to face throughout American history. Luckily though, the people of Detroit were aware of the fact that their children were learning from racially biased textbooks and worked to eradicate them from the schools. Newspaper articles from the time document the efforts of the schools and parents, criticisms of the textbook publishers, and the progress that was made to solve the problem. Not everyone was in agreement that what was being done was enough though and some school officials were initially slow to get the ball rolling on solutions, but later officials eventually came in to help pick up the slack. Scholars from back when the textbooks were still being used and scholars today have written about the negative effects racially biased textbooks have on students and suggestions for solving that problem. Although they do not all have the same ideas about a solution, they can all agree that the problem exists and that something needs to be done about it. Although the racially biased textbooks of 1960s Detroit Public Schools are an example of the continued racism that permeates the United States, it is also an example of a community coming together to combat that racism.



Racial bias, Textbooks, Michigan--Detroit, 1960s, History, Education