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Black Caucus expresses concern over proposed changes in school history books
NOVEMBER 13, 2016 at 2:18 p.m.

NASHVILLE- The Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators have expressed their concern over proposed changes in state school textbooks that would eliminate major events in the civil rights movement and keep them from being taught. According to a report this week by the Associated Press, among the items being considered for removal are:

— The Highlander Folk School, once a major player in the civil rights movement that counted Rosa Parks among its alumni and Martin Luther King Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt and folk singer Pete Seeger among its supporters.

— The tent city movement in western Tennessee that sprang up in the early 1960s when white property owners evicted hundreds of black tenant farmers in retaliation for demanding the right to vote.

— Nashville suffragette Anne Dudley's efforts to get lawmakers to make Tennessee the 36th and deciding state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, giving women the right to vote. A statue honoring Dudley and four other suffrage leaders was installed in Nashville's Centennial Park in August.

— Pulitzer Prize-winning West Tennessee author Alex Haley's novel, Roots: The Saga of an American Family, and the television miniseries that became a national phenomenon when it aired in 1977.

Caucus Chair Brenda Gilmore, a Nashville Democrat, said that now, more than ever, students need to be taught about the significant contributions made by African-Americans to Tennessee’s rich cultural heritage. “The Highlander Folk School and the tent city movement are some of the more significant events in the history of the state,” Gilmore said. “Even more importantly, Alex Haley’s Roots saga captivated both the nation and world by vividly showing the struggle of African Americans in this country. It’s shocking to think that could be excluded from Tennessee textbooks.”

Memphis Democratic Representative Karen Camper urged the public to get involved and pay attention to these possible changes. “We can’t sit idly by and let these changes occur without our input. We need to go to the State Board of Education website and weigh-in on these important proposals. It’s critical that we make sure our voices are heard and protect our heritage.”

The recommendations can be reviewed at, the State Board of Education’s website.

Published November 13, 2016

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