Originally published 07/31/2013
Ray Smock was Historian of the U. S. House of Representatives from 1983 to 1995. Lindy Boggs died this past week at the age of 97. She was my mentor and my dear friend during the years I served as historian of the U.S. House of Representatives and since that time. No one influenced me more and taught me more about the ways of the House and national politics than did Lindy. She literally took me under her wing and welcomed me into her large extended family on the Hill and throughout Washington and even in New Orleans, where I visited her in her Bourbon Street home on several occasions.I had no political connections nor was I the slightest part of Washington society when I got the job as House Historian. I knew nothing of how the institution of the House worked from the inside. I knew about Congress from the news and from textbooks. Lindy opened up that world to me from the inside. She knew I needed this to complete my education if I was to be able to do my job to its fullest extent.She was chairwoman of the House Bicentenary Commission, a special committee appointed by Speaker Tip O’Neill to oversee the 200th anniversary of Congress. My job was to plan for that bicentennial and report to the committee, one of the few in Congress to have an equal number of Democrats and Republicans.
Originally published 07/29/2013
Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. He is also the editor-in-chief of The Root. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
Originally published 07/19/2013
A Philadelphia historian sparked a days-long — and so far fruitless — archival search when she challenged her blog readers to take an “impossible” test purportedly once given to prospective black voters in Louisiana.The test, which asks the taker to “spell backwards, forwards” among other tasks, went viral on the Internet after it posted on a noted civil rights history website. The Tennessee State Archives put a copy in its collections. Teachers are using it in their history lessons. However, history experts in Louisiana do not have a copy of it.“I suspected that was a hoax,” Andrew Salinas, reference archivist for the Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, said Wednesday.A former civil rights worker who insists the test was given offered another explanation. Jeff Schwartz said Louisiana might have been reluctant to preserve an embarrassing chapter in its history....
Originally published 03/11/2013
"Voucher schools in Louisiana and Indiana are using a “U.S. History” textbook in their eighth grade classes that teaches that the “hippies” of the 1960s were draft dodgers who were rude, didn’t bathe, and worshipped Satan." [Check out a photo of the section on Satanic hippies here.]The offending hippie textbook, entitled "America: The Land I Love" and published by A Beka Books, a company affiliated with Pensacola Christian College, is only one of a number of textbooks produced by evangelical Christian publishers and used (at taxpayer expense) in voucher school programs in Louisiana (Gov. Bobby Jindal signed legislation last year which implemented one of the most ambitious voucher programs in the country).These headlines summarize the content of the most popular textbooks (most of the examples below come from books published by Bob Jones University Press):
Originally published 02/26/2013
An archaeological project arising out of Hurricane Katrina's floods has turned up bits of pottery fired about 1,300 years before the first French colonists slogged into south Louisiana swamps. The project also has turned up artifacts from later Native Americans, Spanish and American fortifications, as well as a hotel and amusement park near the mouth of Bayou St. John, once an important route from Lake Pontchartrain to New Orleans....
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