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Image: LA Johnson, NPR
*On this date in 2018, the Texas Board of Education voted to change how its students learn about the American Civil War.
Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, students will be taught that slavery played a "central role" in the war. The state's previous social studies standards listed three causes for the Civil War: sectionalism, states' rights, and slavery, in that order. In September 2018, the board's Democrats proposed listing slavery as the only cause.
Democratic board member Marisa Perez-Diaz, from San Antonio, said at a board meeting, "What the use of 'states' rights' is doing is essentially blanketing, or skirting, the real foundational issue, which is slavery." Republican board member David Bradley, from Beaumont, argued for keeping the other causes in the curriculum. He said, "Each state had differences and made individual decisions as to whether or not to join into the conflict, correct? I mean, that's the definition of states' rights." In the end, the Republican-led board landed on a compromise: Students will be taught about "the central role of the expansion of slavery in causing sectionalism, disagreements over states' rights, and the Civil War."
Houston Democrat Lawrence Allen Jr., the board's only Black member, helped write the new language. He believes it draws a straighter line between slavery and the American Civil War than the previous standards did.