White men gave civil rights to women, blacks and Hispanics?


It’s maybe an apocryphal story. Republicans in Texas hope so.

It was at a very large, mostly African-American church in Dallas. The social action committee, or whatever it’s name is, was meeting. The only white guy in the room was there to try to get them interested in the elections for the members of the Texas State Board of Education. Normally these races are sleepers, down ballot, and off the radars of almost all interest groups. The social action committee was just as tough an audience as any other group with limited resources and limited time to try to get good political action.

Besides, a good chunk of Dallas is represented by Mavis Knight, an African American who is a pillar of common sense on the Texas education board, and Ms. Knight’s seat isn’t being contested in 2010. Why should Dallas voters be interested in any of these races?

“Before we start talking,” the lone white guy said, “I’d like to show you some of what has been going on in the Texas State Board of Education over the last year, in their work to change social studies standards.”

And he showed the video below. The entire committee grew quiet, silent; and then they started to shout at the television image. “What’s that?” “Is he crazy?” “He said white men gave us civil rights?”  “HE SAID WHAT?”

A 58-second video clip that could greatly animate electoral politics in Texas. The comments came fast and loud.

“That was part of the debate?  What, are they crazy down there?  Don’t they know history?  Don’t they know the truth?  They aren’t going to tell our children that Martin Luther King didn’t work to get civil rights, are they?  They aren’t going to say Martin Luther King died, but some white man gave rights to African Americans — are they?”

It’s a video clip that every Republican candidate in Texas hopes will be hidden away.  The Democratic tide that has swept Dallas County in two consecutive elections threatens to stop the Republican stranglehold on statewide offices in November, if those who voted in such great numbers in 2008 turn out again.

There are other stakes, too — the Republican stranglehold allowed the state education board to gut science standards, to eliminate Hispanic literature from language arts standards, and to try to change history, to blot out Thurgood Marshall and as much of the civil rights movement as they could hide.  So Texas children get a second-rate, incorrect set of standards in social studies, in English, and in science.

Republicans have declared war on good education, war on the children who benefit most from good education.

So, according to Don McLeroy, who lost the primary election to keep his seat, this little piece of history, below, is inaccurate. Tough for McLeroy — the Schoolhouse Rock video sits in too many Texas school libraries. Sometimes, the facts sneak through, defying the best efforts of the Texas State Soviet of Education to snuff out the truth.

But don’t you wonder what every woman, African American, and Hispanic in Texas will think about the importance of the 2010 elections, when they see what Gov. Rick Perry’s appointee to chair the SBOE, thinks about how civil rights were achieved in the U.S.?

Over at Republican headquarters, they hope that story is apocryphal.

Video of the Texas State Board of Education from the Texas Freedom Network.

Here, you can make sure other voters see this video that Don McLeroy hopes you will not see:

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9 Responses to White men gave civil rights to women, blacks and Hispanics?

  1. […] you, Don McLeroy.  And you, Granville Sewell.  More knowledge than you can hold in your […]

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  2. Bryan says:

    Here’s my take on what McLeroy meant:
    All men (that is, white property-owning men, including white men whose property was other men who didn’t happen to be white) were endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. The rights of women and non-white peoples were granted by those white men, not their Creator.

    Apparently, McLeroy still can’t see that the founding fathers got it wrong, or at least got an incomplete transmission from their “Creator”, and that EVERYONE was endowed with those rights, and white men WITHHELD them from women and non-white peoples.

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  3. Jim Stanley says:

    Two things:

    First, for the sake of clarification…let me be clear that my prior comment was not meant in any way to exonerate McLeroy. What I was going for, probably poorly, was to get across the idea that he would view the substitution of the historically accurate term, “slave trade” for “triangular trade” as a means of teaching geometry… In short, I was being a smartass. I agree completely with historians who are alarmed about this revisionism.

    Second, while I am sure LR is simply trying to see the best in the guy (which is commendable), I do have to concur with Ed and Nic. The problem is not that white people haven’t been given enough credit. It’s that white people have been given ALL the credit, at least until recently. What McLeroy, his fellow revisionists in Texas and the creators of many homeschool and alternate history curricula are showing is their desperation over recent attempts to recognize America’s multi-cultural (and factual) history. They long for the good old days, when the books taught a mix of fact and feelgood fiction…where only the positive in our history was emphasized…and where only the contributions of white, Christian men were considered formational.

    No one on the left (to my knowledge) argues that we should ignore the splendid contributions of these folks. But we intend to fight furiously to see that these are not the ONLY contributions to our history that get mentioned.

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  4. Nick K says:

    LR, I think it would be more accurate that some white men and women did help those groups get their equality.

    Or rather…liberals did. White conservatives like McLeroy fought against it tooth and nail.

    So if you’re buying the snow job Mr. McLeroy is trying to engage in…you need to change your name.

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  5. Ed Darrell says:

    In context, no, McLeroy’s not saying white guys deserve a little credit. He was arguing to exclude Thurgood Marshall from the standards. He was arguing to exclude suffragists from the standards. He successfully included America’s Taliban leader Phyllis Schlafly as a key political figure, for her advocacy against women’s rights, against civil rights, and against gays.

    What’s the matter? Pay attention to McLeroy’s advocacy over time. It’s not benign. He is anti-minority, anti-woman, anti-Bill of Rights, anti-historical accuracy. He’s anti-science.

    If there is anything educational, cultural, and praiseworthy and of good report, McLeroy is opposed to it.

    In this specific case, he wasn’t arguing for a fair shake, but arguing instead to de-emphasize the work of Martin Luther King, Jr., and suffragists, among others, claiming that the contributions of those who campaigned for civil rights through the decades did not count. That’s inaccurate, and to my ethical foundations, morally wrong.

    He’s not arguing for a fair shake for white guys in history studies. He’s arguing to cover up the facts.

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  6. Liberal Realist says:

    McLeRoy didn’t say anything factually incorrect. The old white guys in power are the ones who passed civil rights bills.

    He’s making a political point here that whites males of their time should get some credit for making sure others got their rights. It’s also worth noting that the founding fathers who these GOPers sometimes worship, did not insure those rights.

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  7. Jim Stanley says:

    Shelley,

    What’s the matter? The substitution of “Triangular Trade” is the radical right’s proposal for introducing kids to geometry! ;-)

    Like

  8. Shelley says:

    As a Texas writer, this outrage strikes close to home with me. To me the worst was the idea that the words “slave trade” should be jettisoned in favor of a euphemism.

    George Orwell, where are you?

    Like

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