Neo-Confederate Historical Revisionism in a Virginia 4th Grade Schoolbook

It’s bad enough that creationists are constantly trying to get their nonsense published in school textbooks; but now we have neo-Confederates doing it too: Virginia 4th-grade textbook criticized over claims on black Confederate soldiers.

And once again, behind this latest revisionist outrage we find the sleazy white supremacist hate group that calls itself the Sons of Confederate Veterans. They’re getting very active in the age of the Tea Party.

A textbook distributed to Virginia fourth-graders says that thousands of African Americans fought for the South during the Civil War — a claim rejected by most historians but often made by groups seeking to play down slavery’s role as a cause of the conflict.

The passage appears in “Our Virginia: Past and Present,” which was distributed in the state’s public elementary schools for the first time last month. The author, Joy Masoff, who is not a trained historian but has written several books, said she found the information about black Confederate soldiers primarily through Internet research, which turned up work by members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Scholars are nearly unanimous in calling these accounts of black Confederate soldiers a misrepresentation of history. Virginia education officials, after being told by The Washington Post of the issues related to the textbook, said that the vetting of the book was flawed and that they will contact school districts across the state to caution them against teaching the passage.

“Just because a book is approved doesn’t mean the Department of Education endorses every sentence,” said spokesman Charles Pyle. He also called the book’s assertion about black Confederate soldiers “outside mainstream Civil War scholarship.”

Masoff defended her work. “As controversial as it is, I stand by what I write,” she said. “I am a fairly respected writer.”

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