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Texas Conservatives Closer To Banning Cesar Chavez From School Textbooks

January 11, 2010

What would happen if there was a debate in your state where the school board told you they were removing Abraham Lincoln from their textbooks? No excuse would even come close to advocating for such a thing, after all Lincoln was a key figure in American history — declaring the Emancipation Proclamation, which helped put an end to slavery. It was a heroic act during a time when white Southerners had so much influence and blacks had few advocates. It’s a lesson about doing the right thing, about standing up for others who are oppressed. It’s what we want our children to learn. But, in the state of Texas that lesson is what they are trying to erase — not about Lincoln, but about Cesar Chavez.

A debate takes place in Texas every 10 years — the new curriculum that will be taught in the public schools and the historical figures that will make it into the textbooks. This time around such debate has sparked anger from Latin-American groups who are fighting to keep Cesar Chavez in the social studies textbooks before a preliminary school board vote on January 13.

Cesar Chavez as you may already know is the most notable Latino figure of the 20th Century. What Martin Luther King Jr. is to the African American community, Chavez is to Latinos. His work not only led to major labor reforms for farm workers and their families in California, but he also empowered a whole new generation of people to stand up for their rights and challenge the status quo in a peaceful and strategic manner.

Nevertheless, advisers to the Texas Board of Education have come to question the historical value of teaching children in Texas about Chavez’ life. Their verdict without a trial has cast Chavez as inconsequential to American history despite the fact that his legacy can strongly resonate with children in Texas who happen to be mostly Latino.

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