Campus News

View Year

Juniata Hosts Civil Rights Historian for MLK Convocation Lecture

(Posted January 11, 2010)

James Loewen, author of "Lies My Teacher Told Me" and "Sundown Towns," will speak at Rosenberger Auditorium at 3:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 18.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- James Loewen, author of "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong," will give a talk at Juniata College on civil rights history as part of the college's Martin Luther King Convocation at 3:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 18, at Rosenberger Auditorium in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

In addition, there will be a weeklong slate of activities at the college focused around diversity and inclusion.

Loewen, who worked as a professor of history and race relations at the University of Vermont and now writes full-time from his home in Washington, D.C., created a best-selling book that revealed how much textbook historians left out of school history books. "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Texts Got Wrong," was written in 1995 and received the 1996 American Book Award and the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for "distinguished anti-racist scholarship."

"Lies My Teacher Told Me" was a two-year project for Loewen who researched 12 secondary-school history textbooks as part of a Smithsonian Institution fellowship. The book not only critiques history textbooks, but also lays out a method for a re-telling of U.S. history as it could be taught.

Loewen, who worked as a professor of history and race relations at the University of Vermont and now Loewen created a best-selling book that revealed how much textbook historians left out of school history books. "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Texts Got Wrong," was written in 1995 and received the 1996 American Book Award.

Loewen's latest book project, still in the writing stages, is "Teaching What Really Happened," which will outline specific advice for teachers on how to get students to think critically and become excited about history.

A professor of history at The Catholic University of America since 1997, Loewen released his most recent book, "Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension in American Racism," in 2005. The book details the history of communities that forced African-Americans, Jews and other minority groups to leave town by nightfall or risk assault or other methods of intimidation.

His interest in civil rights stretches across a distinguished education career. In 1974, a history textbook Loewen wrote, "Mississippi: Conflict and Change," was rejected for public school use in Mississippi. Loewen filed a First Amendment lawsuit, Loewen v. Turnipseed. The case was ruled in U.S. District Court that the authors had been denied the right to free speech and press.

A prolific writer and speaker, Loewen also wrote the books "Lies Across America: What Our Historic Markers and Monuments Get Wrong (2000)," "Lies My Teacher Told Me About Christopher Columbus (1992)," "The Mississippi Chinese: Between Black and White (1988)," and "Social Science in the Courtroom."

Loewen started his career in education at Tougaloo College, a historically black college in Mississippi. He earned a bachelor's degree from Carleton College in Northridge, Minn. and earned a doctorate in sociology from Harvard University.

He has received numerous awards during his career, including the Spivack Award of the American Sociological Association. He is also a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians.


Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.