Textbook Wars

By Ed Sawicki - 2014


KKK KKK Bible and Dirty Books Alice Moor poster Geneology

Among the many seemingly irreconcilable differences between conservative and liberal Americans, there's the textbook wars. The first war occurred in 1974 in Kanawha County, West Virginia over the content of new school textbooks. People were first concerned that the books used multicultural language and grammar. This is a polite way of saying that in West Virginia white Americans didn't want their children learning about black culture.

From there, it spread to concerns about religion and socialism. The KKK got involved. It's referred to as a war because there were shootings, bombings, and a foiled plot by a religious leader to kill children and parents with car bombs.

The story is told in this 53-minute audio produced by APM Reports (formerly American Radioworks):

The latest incarnation of the war occurred in Texas in 2010 and is ongoing. The Texas Board of Education wants to revise textbooks to paint a different picture of the South and its history, as well as emphasizing conservatism, Christianity, and capitalism as core American values.

Instead of mentioning slavery, the Board prefers the term Atlantic Triangle Trade. Instead of capitalism, it's free enterprise. They want a more positive spin put on Senator Joe McCarthy's 1950s hunt for communists.

Since the Texas school system is the second largest in the nation, other states are concerned that Texas content will appear in their textbooks. The state with the largest school system, California, has proposed legislation that forbids purchase of these textbooks.


American RadioWorks: The Great Textbook War

West Virginia Archives & History

The Christian Science Monitor   Text

Fox News: Why the Texas Textbook Wars Matter to Every American

The Battle of the Books: Kanawha County

Wikipedia: Kanawha County textbook controversy