South teaches better about civil rights

Sep 29, 2011

States in the South generally do a better job of teaching students about the civil rights movement than those in other parts of the country, according to a new study by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“Generally speaking, the farther away from the South—and the smaller the African-American population—the less attention paid to the civil rights movement. Sixteen states do not require any instruction whatsoever about the movement. In another 19, coverage is minimal. In almost all states, there is tremendous room for improvement.”

The Center developed the review, the first of its kind, to provide a national report card on the state of civil rights education in the country in state educational standards and curriculum.  Most states, it found, failed.

The results

Only Alabama, Florida and New York scored As in teaching about the civil rights movement, the study found.  Three other states — Georgia, Illinois and South Carolina — each scored a B.  Thirty five states failed.  Here’s the list of grades for each Southern state (see all grades):

  • Alabama:  A
  • Arkansas:  D
  • Florida:  A
  • Georgia:  B
  • Kentucky:  F
  • Louisiana:  C
  • Mississippi:  C
  • North Carolina:  F
  • South Carolina:  B
  • Tennessee:  C
  • Virginia: C

The civil rights movement is given short shrift in the educational standards that guide what students learn. Although Southern states generally do a better job teaching the movement than the rest of the country, they have little to brag about. At the University of Virginia, my students are often outraged to learn that they have never been taught about events in their own hometowns. An educated populace must be taught basics about American history. One of these basics is the civil rights movement, a nonviolent revolution as important as the first American Revolution. It is a history that continues to shape the America we all live in today.

– Julian Bond, chairman emeritus of the NAACP, in the forward of the report

Related Posts

Share This

Leave a Comment