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: