University of Vermont Professor James Loewen gave the final lecture in the four part Voices of America Distinguished Lecture Series on Monday, May 12, at 7:30 p.m. in the Occhiato University Center Ballroom.
The lecture covered false information in high school textbooks, especially regarding the Civil War.
The lecture was attended by over 100 people, mostly educators from across Colorado.
Loewen spent two years at the Smithsonian Institute surveying 12 leading high school textbooks of American history, only to find what he called a mix of blind optimism, blind nationalism, and plain misinformation contained within the text books.
Loewen holds a Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University, but describes himself as a historian and sociologist.
He taught race relations for 20 years at the University of Vermont and also previously taught at the predominately black Tougaloo College in Mississippi.
Loewen has written many other books, including Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong, and the Gustavus Myers Foundation named his new book, Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism, a Distinguished Book of 2005. Loewen has also written The Mississippi Chinese: Between Black and White; Social Science in the Courtroom; and The Truth about Columbus.
He has been an expert witness in more than 50 civil rights, voting rights, and employment cases.
His other books include Mississippi: Conflict and Change (co-authored), a textbook which won the Lillian Smith Award for Best Southern Nonfiction but was rejected by the State of Mississippi for public school use.
This rejection lead to the First Amendment Lawsuit, Loewen, et. al. v. Turnipseed, et. al. Loewen won the case and Mississippi adopted the book for use in public schools for six years.
His awards include the First Annual Spivack Award of the American Sociological Association for “sociological research applied to the field of intergroup relations,” the American Book Award, and the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship. He is also a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians.
Loewen now lives in Washington D.C., continuing his research on how Americans remember their past, according to CSU-Pueblo Executive Director of External Affairs Cora Zaletel.
The lecture was begun by an audience greeting by CSU-Pueblo President Joseph A. Garcia, and an introduction by Pueblo School District 70 Superintendent Dan Lere.
The CSU-Pueblo bookstore had copies of three of Loewen’s books available for sale at half price.
Attendees of the lecture were welcome to have copies of Loewen’s book signed following the performance.
The Voices of America Lecture Series was made possible by a grant co-sponsored by CSU-Pueblo’s history department, Pueblo School District 70, and a consortium of 16 southeastern Colorado school districts under the umbrella of the Southern Colorado Teacher Education Alliance, according to Zaletel.
The grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and aims to improve K-12 school history programs through professional development for regional American history teachers, Zaletel said.