Printer Friendly

When lions write history.


Until the lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always

glorify the hunter.

--Chinua Achebe, "The Art of Fiction," 1994

The African proverb, "Until the lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter," is used to metaphorically describe how dominant groups inscribe power through historical narrative. The foundation of historical writing is a legacy that promoted European and Western ethnocentrism, which created a racial apparatus that elevated the humanistic global characteristics of Whiteness while perpetrating the subpersonhood status that demeaned the humanity of Black people (Mills, 1998).

Central to this approach of racial subjugation were K-12 social studies textbooks written by White historians and educators who used history as a means to explore ideas of U.S. citizenship. It was common in these textbooks to underscore Black persons as inferior and second-class citizens. Early social studies textbooks emphasized that the "Black skin was a curse" (Woodson, 1933 p. 3) through narratives that purported that Black people were naturally "barbarians," "destitute of intelligence," or " having little humanity" (Brown, 2010; Elson, 1964; Foster, 1999). The racializations of Blackness were used as justifications for the paternalistic attitudes White citizens had towards African Americans.

In response to these racist depictions, the multicultural education movement was created to attempt to correct the textual and visual representations about the race. Between the years 1890 to 1940, African-American educators continued a long trajectory of repudiating racist conceptions of Blackness "so that the story of the hunt will also reflect the agony, the travail--the bravery, even, of the lions" (Achebe, 1994).

To be clear, the work of African-American educators' textbooks were not simply neutral or independent projects at expanding African-American historic representation, but were also connected to a larger purpose that attempted to alter the racial meanings associated with Blackness. The efforts of these African-American educators were the foundation of multicultural education--they became the lions that spoke for the people whose voices were silenced.

In this article I discuss how African-American educators between the years of 1890-1940 conceptualized citizenship education through Black history textbooks. Much of the literature about turn-of-the-20th century social studies textbooks typically described the lack of diversity or racist conceptualization of Blackness (Elson, 1964; Dubois, 1999/1935; King, Davis, & Brown, 2012; Nash, Crabtree, & Dunn, 2000; Reddick, 1934); little research has examined the textbooks that responded to these shortcomings.

By concentrating on the efforts of African-American educators, this research accentuates multicultural education as an important dynamic in the theoretical development of social studies education. Throughout the article I do this by seeking to accomplish three goals:
   The first goal is to highlight late nineteenth
   and early twentieth century Black
   history textbooks written for and by African

   The second goal is to illustrate how social
   studies and multicultural education
   occurred simultaneously in an effort to
   provide African-American students an
   equitable history curriculum.

   The third goal is to situate early African-American
   educators as salient theoreticians
   to the social studies field whose
   interdisciplinary philosophies conflicted
   with traditional social studies thought,
   especially the ideology of civic education.

This research adds to the developing literature base on how African-American educators contributed to the early theoretical and practical multicultural and social studies movements (Banks, 1992; Brown, 2010; Chapman, 2004; King, Davis, & Brown, 2012; Woyshner & Bohan, 2013).

This article focuses specifically on late nineteenth and early twentieth century African-American educators who developed and distributed Black history textbooks for primary and secondary education. The relevant educators and textbooks include Edward Augustus Johnson's A School History of the Negro Race in American (1987), Lelia Amos Pendleton's A Narrative of Negro (1912), Carter G. Woodson's The Negro in Our History (1922), and Meryl Eppse's The Negro, Too, In American History (1937).


These African-American educators constructed their own brand of social studies that valued civic education from a "Black" perspective. These civic teachings came in the form of narratives that challenged traditional textbook histories about Africa and the African Diaspora, slavery and Reconstruction, race and racism, and the accomplishments and achievements of African Americans. These projects were a response to racial attitudes of early social studies thought and provided a critical social commentary (Brown, 2010) about African Americans and the role social studies education played in developing the ideas around citizenship.

The Necessity of an Alternative Black Curriculum Framework

Alana Murray's (2012) framework, the alternative black curriculum, has been used to discuss African-American educators' philosophies concerning citizenship education. African-American history was the catalyst for the early multicultural curriculum movement (Banks, 1992) and the alternative Black curriculum framework's curricular and pedagogical process.

For early multiculturalists like Johnson, Pendleton, Woodson, and Eppse, their curriculum approach sought to "critique the normative structure of the dominant historical narrative" (Murray, 2013, p. 101). Banks (1992) surmised that early African-American educators constructed counter narratives through their Black history textbooks that depicted their experiences in a "realistic, objective, and scientific fashion" (p. 277). This approach brought a more culturally relevant lens to social studies in African-American communities because, as Watkins (1993) noted, African-American curriculum development derived from "the history of the Black experience in the United States" (p. 322).

For many African-American educators, early conceptions of social studies educations did not achieve this and was disconnected from the political, cultural, or economic realities of the race. For example, numerous White educators believed that Western epistemologies, through the social studies, would help serve as the conduits for the cultural and intellectual development of African Americans (Fallace, 2012 p. 511).

Mainstream textbooks and curriculum materials promoted social and intellectual conformity and endorsed citizenship that adhered to White protestant males who were heterosexual and derived from a Western European heritage. For example, the Hampton social studies curriculum authored by Thomas Jesse Jones implied messages that African Americans were primitive and backward and thus required training in Western civilization.

In effect this curriculum, which focused heavily on civics, was created to help African Americans "acquire habits and ideas" (Jones, 1908, pp. 4-5) to become more civilized. Thus, to be a U.S. citizen, you had to adopt White values. Whiteness was considered the apex of civilization and early social studies textbooks created narratives that explained why Blackness was the lowest form of humanity.

Early social studies textbooks sought to deny the citizenship status of African Americans. Social studies education presented numerous historical inaccuracies and negative stereotypes, and ignored important institutional histories about race and racism that were instrumental in shaping the lives of African Americans. For example, Choice Literature: Book One for Grammar Grades proclaimed that God "first made the Black man, realized he had done badly, and then created successively lighter races, improving as He went along" (Williams, 1898, p. 117).

W. E. B. Dubois (1999) noted in his review of Reconstruction narratives that Negros were constructed as ignorant, lazy, dishonest, extravagant, and responsible for their material realities (pp. 711-712). Even the more liberal social studies movements, such as the progressive and social reconstruction periods, continued the "regime of truth" (Foucault, 1977) of White superiority and Black inferiority (King, Davis, & Brown, 2012; Watkins, 2006).

White supremacy was encouraged through textbooks that supported the institution of slavery as a religious, moral, and civilizing influence over Black people and justified the Klu Klux Klan as a noble organization that as Harold Rugg (1931) once proclaimed had to "fight fire with fire" (pp. 367-368). Narratives such as those were prominent in schools and were engrained in the psyche of both Black and White students. Early social studies textbooks promoted and sustained a specific construction of Blackness, which was part of an apparatus of racial oppression that denied personhood, thus creating an ontological truth that non-Whites were abnormal, childlike and innately inferior to Whites.

Therefore, Black history textbooks and their narratives were written for a specific purpose to respond to the early racialization of African Americans who were considered insignificant, deficit, and disadvantaged. To do this, the alternative Black curriculum framework focused on several interconnected themes including:

(a) Counter narratives about the importance of the continent of Africa and African civilizations.

(b) Providing a Diasporic identity between African Americans and other Black peoples throughout the history of the world.

(c) Emphasizing the political, cultural, and economic role that African Americans played in U.S. nation building.

(d) Identifying White allies who held egalitarian beliefs and fought racism.

(e) Stressing the importance of race and racism as institutional barriers to the lived experiences of African Americans.

The focal point for this study is to bring attention to the role of African Americans in U.S. nation building and the saliency of race and racism to the citizenship efforts of the race. The alternative Black curriculum is about highlighting the centrality of the African-American experience and challenging the traditional "Euro-epistemic" (Swartz, 2013) of traditional historical production. Early Black history textbooks, therefore, allowed African Americans to have their own voice and to be historical agents who define themselves and describe their experiences. In other words, the alternative Black curriculum framework democratizes knowledge and repositions African Americans as normative subjects in history.

Therefore, an alternative Black curriculum framework provides a helpful and interesting examination of how these historians and educators approached writing about citizenship through Black history. Through the creation and distribution of Black history textbooks, the African-American experience was moved from the margins to the center and systematically challenged categories of race normalized by mainstream historians. It is my view that to fully understand the dynamics of social studies education, there needs to be a theoretical examination of diverse communities that have been neglected in traditional social studies foundations research.

The Alternative Social Studies Curriculum of African-American Educators

Until recently, African-American social studies educators and organizations have largely been excluded from social studies foundations research. The scholarship mainly concentrated on the theoretical concepts proposed many years ago by the various committees of the National Educational Association (NEA) in 1893 and 1916 and American Historical Association (AHA) in 1896. In addition, overarching interpretations of early social studies foundations scholarship, such as the progressive era origins analysis, the history-versus-social studies trope, and the biography-as-history approach (Woyshner, 2009 p. 428), disregard African-American educators' perspectives. King, Davis, and Brown (2012) recognized this paradox of social studies history, in which scholars acknowledge that race and racism aimed at African Americans was prominent since the conception of the field yet fail to expound on how African Americans responded to a social studies curriculum that was ethnocentric, racist, and ignored non-Western perspectives.

Whether these omissions were intentional or by default, social studies theoreticians, researchers, and practitioners could not fully ascertain the distinctive, divergent, and diverse ways social studies education was viewed through racial and ethnic communities. Ignoring the work of African-American social studies educators implied that African-American educators and communities: (a) did not learn or value social studies education; (b) did not contribute to social studies thought and practice; (c) were passive and accepted problematic constructions of social studies education; and (d) had parallel visions with White social studies educators on the direction of the field.

In essence, early social studies history perceived social studies as colorblind and cultureless, which presented an incomplete picture of the totality of social studies development. The last 10 years, however, have seen a keen interest in moving away from these formerly popular approaches and has instead been moving towards developing stronger scholarship in African-American social studies history. These new research trajectories on African-American social studies foundations can be divided into three approaches: individual African American intellectualism, collective resistance, and historical comparative examinations.

Individual African-American Intellectualism

Much of the early literature on African-American social studies educators has focused on individual African-American intellectuals. I define intellectuals broadly, to encompass those African-American educators who identified as scholars, teachers, and laypersons. Writings on this topic have focused mainly on African-American women's social studies curriculum contributions. For example, Margaret Crocco and O. L. Davis' (2012) edited book, Building a Legacy: Women in Social Education, 1784-1984, included a few biographies on Black women such as Septima Clark, Ella Baker, and Marion Wright who contributed to social studies education's notions of citizenship, social justice, and Black history. Other notable Black women educators such as Nannie Burroughs, Mary McLeod Bethune, Anna Julie Cooper, and Charlotte Hawkins have been highlighted because of their influences in character education and the pedagogical application of Black history and multicultural social studies education (Bair, 2009; Murray, 2012,2013).

A few African-American male social studies educators have also been recognized for their approach in the field. Murray Nelson's (1988) work on Merly Eppse was one of the first articles written about an African-American male social studies educator. Nelson (1988) praised Eppse for being one of the first people to comprehensively integrate traditional U.S. history and Black history in a school textbook.

The most noticeable African-American male educator researcher in social studies foundations has been the "father of Black history," Carter G. Woodson. Researchers have focused on his academic and teaching career, the creation of the Journal of Negro History and the Negro History Bulletin (two educational journals dedicated to educational research and practice), K-12 textbooks, community education, global Black history focus, and his most lasting influence--the celebration of Negro history Week (Bair, 2013; Brown, 2010; Brown, Crowley & King, 2011; Dilworth, 2004; King, Crowley, & Brown, 2010; King, Davis, & Brown, 2012; Zimmerman, 2002).

Negro History Week became the catalyst for many Black communities to fight for a curriculum that emphasized Black history, which in the estimation of many Black citizens involved a more relevant curriculum than traditional Eurocentric history (Bair, 2013; King, Crowley, & Brown, 2010; Zimmerman, 2002). Many scholars credit Woodson's steadfast dedication to popularizing Black history and for the long lasting influence of his work (Wineburg & Mone-Sano, 2008).

Collective Resistance

A few scholars have provided insight into the collective efforts of African-American individuals and communities that have aided in the development of social studies thought. Tyrone Howard's (2004) historical study provided awareness of the interconnection between African-American social and educational movements. Through exploring African Americans' fight for civil rights and multicultural education from 1950-1970, he addressed how social studies influenced cultural diversity and educational equality through research and textbooks.

Patrice Preston-Grimes (2007) presented the field with a distinctly different perspective on civic education and engagement in the social studies. Her focus on the period of segregation in Georgia and how African-American teachers responded to imbedded and systemic racism through civic education provided social studies foundations with alternative voices and "diverse opinions and applications of citizenship principles" (Preston-Grimes, 2007).

Many other authors are included in Christine Woyshner and Chara Bohan's (2013) edited book, Histories of Social Studies and Race: 1865-2000. This volume highlighted scholarship concerning how African American individuals and communities developed social studies education through a racial lens. The topics explored include how these communities conceptualized civic engagement and teaching, Black history and multicultural curriculum, Afrocentric approaches, and social justice. All of these studies provide insight on race and social studies that reflect the agency of the African-American educational communities' efforts in developing equitable social studies curriculum for African-American children.

Comparative Examinations

The last approach involves comparative examinations of social studies curriculum. This line of inquiry focuses on juxtaposing how different educators' constructed social studies education. Margret Crocco (2004) noted that social studies dealt with difference through three eras, the cultural amelioration phase (19101940), the psychological compensation phase (1941-1980), and the knowledge transformation phase (1981-present). Exploring questions regarding the "fundamental epistemological and normative underpinning" of social studies, she noted that African Americans were salient agents in social studies thought and practice, and "challenged the nation's commitment to democracy, citizenship, and equal rights, calling on social education to embody these principles" (Crocco, 2004 p. 112).

Dilworth (2004) and King, Davis, and Brown (2012) compared the works of Carter G. Woodson with Thomas Jesse Jones and Harold O. Rugg, respectively. These latter two historical figures are probably the most influential social studies theorists during the early social studies movement. Dilworth focused on both educators' conceptions of citizenship, noting that Woodson's ideas for citizenship aligned more appropriately to democratic citizenship, as Jones supported compliance and accommodation. King, Davis, and Brown (2012) explored the notions of race in Woodson and Rugg's textbooks. They suggested that social reconstructionists' contributions such as Rugg's textbook descriptions about race represented the status quo while Woodson's approach to race should be seen as foundational to social studies racial history.

Save for Alana Murray's (2012) dissertation study, Countering the Master Narrative: The Development of the Alternative Black Curriculum in Social Studies, 18901940, very few studies have comprehensively examined and compared multiple African-American social studies educators' curriculum orientations. In addition, in the fields of social studies, curriculum studies, and multicultural education, little scholarship has been dedicated to thorough study of early Black history textbooks.

More importantly to the field of social studies, these studies have not examined how late nineteenth and early twentieth century Black history textbooks presented social studies concepts and theories. Therefore, this article provides some insight into these inquiries and approaches the question: How did early African-American educators construct citizenship education in Black history textbooks?

Thus, my foci for this article include the way in which citizenship education has been conceptualized in social studies textbooks. However, before explicating the intellectual history of African-American social studies educators, I first provide some context about who Merly Epps, Edward A. Johnson, Lelia Amos Pendleton, and Carter G. Woodson were.

Black Social Studies Educators: Epps, Johnson, Pendleton, and Woodson

Merly Epps, Edward A. Johnson, Lelia Amos Pendleton, and Carter G. Woodson are highlighted for three reasons. First, they were all considered leaders or activist in fields other than education, yet used their status to influence the educational field (Dagbovie, 2010). Second, they all wrote critical social studies textbooks that could be considered foundational to the multicultural social studies education movement (Banks, 1992; King, Crowley, & Brown, 2010). Third, they were part of a legacy of Black activist academicians and practitioners who fought against education and racial injustices via the narratives of African Americans (Brown, 2010; Chapman, 2004; Mills, 1998). These autodidacts, teachers, community members, preachers, government officials, and college professors set the tone for an alternative Black curriculum in educational settings.

Edward A. Johnson was a successful educator, lawyer, and public official who lived in North Carolina and New York City with his wife and one child. His textbook was first published during his last year as principal at Washington School in Raleigh, North Carolina, at the same time that he received his law degree from Shaw University. His eleven-year (1883-1891) career as an educator in predominately African-American schools with African-American teachers prompted him to write A School History (1891).

In his preface, Johnson pronounced that he observed the "sin of omission" in history textbooks that had omitted "the many brave deeds and noble characters" of the Black race and only mentioned Black people as slaves (p. iii). Black students, in his estimation, had to feel deflated based on the inferiority narratives displayed throughout traditional history. He felt his book would make an impact and give Black students "a new self respect and confidence" (p. iv). Over the course of 35 chapters covering 197 pages, A School History presented Black history from 1619 to 1890. The textbook was eventually adopted by the North Carolina State Board of Education, making him the first Black author to be so recognized.

Lela Amos Pendleton was born, educated, and taught school in Washington, D.C. She married Robert Pendleton, who eventually published her book, A Narrative of the Negro, in 1912. She left teaching that same year to devote herself to social, community, and political activism, and philanthropy through her membership in various charitable organizations and Women's clubs. She founded, participated in, and held leadership positions in the Alpha Charity of Anacostia (she was founder and president), The Social Purity League (founder and president), Northeast Federation of Women's Clubs (vice president), National Association of Assemblies of the Order of the Golden Circle, and Auxiliary to the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (Pendleton, 1971).

Pendleton also wrote articles for the Journal of Negro History (1917) and Crisis magazine (1921, 1922). She labeled A Narrative of the Negro as a "family story to the colored children of America" (1971, p. 3). She hoped that this textbook would ignite a strong desire for school children to study Black history more intensely later in life. She conducted research for the book in Boston public libraries, Library of Congress in Washington, D.C, and at both Harvard and Yale Universities. According to Dickson (1984), Pendleton's book was circulated in the Washington, D.C., Public Schools.

Harvard educated Carter G. Woodson dedicated his life to reconceptualizing Black history. He was born in West Virginia and became a teacher and principal in Washington, D.C. He also taught at Howard University before leaving to help establish the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, an organization that was an outlet to advance knowledge about Black people throughout the Diaspora. He also established a scholarly journal, the Journal of Negro History, in 1916 and a practitioner/teacher based journal entitled the Negro History Bulletin in 1937.

In addition to authoring the Negro in our History, geared towards secondary and university students, Woodson wrote two other Black U.S. history textbooks, Negro Makers of History (1928) and The Story of the Negro Retold (1935) (with Charles Wesley) for younger readers and two supplemental textbooks concerning the African continent (Woodson, 1928, 1936, 1939).

The Negro in Our History was the most widely used survey textbook about the African-American historical experience until the late 1940s. Many predominately Black secondary schools, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Black churches and fraternities, along with regular citizens, purchased the text in large numbers (Banks, 1992; Brown, Crowley, & King, 2011; Dagbovie, 2007; Zimmerman, 2002).

Merl R. Eppse was born in 1893 and was raised in Greenville, Ohio. He was a teacher at Bunker Hill School in rural Ohio and later attended several universities including Wilberforce and Ohio State before earning his B.A degree in history and political science at Drake University in 1927. Eppse received his M.A at Teachers College, Columbia University, and although he continued for his doctorate, he left his graduate studies in rural education after one year, stopping short of obtaining his Ph.D. He spent a year as the dean at Smith Memorial College before becoming a professor at Tennessee A & I State University (later Tennessee State University), a historic Black university in Nashville. He was a professor and later department chair of history and political science for 32 years, retiring in 1960.

Eppse also held leadership roles in several education-related organizations, including the Tennessee Negro Historical Commission, Tennessee Negro Education Association, National Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, and the Association of Social Studies Teachers in Negro Schools. Eppse authored three books; two textbooks, The Negro, Too, in American History (1938) and An Elementary History of America (1939), and one supplemental text, A Guide to the Study of the Negro in American History. These resources held suggestions on lessons and activities ideas that integrated African-American history within the official U.S. history curriculum. According to Eppse, The Negro, Too, In American History was adopted by several city school districts, including the Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, and New York City, as well as states such as Louisiana, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Texas, and Alabama.

African-American Educator's Conceptions of Citizenship Education

The main purpose of textbook creation was to repudiate and revise the citizenship narrative about African Americans. These educators constructed their textbooks to reverse the role African Americans played in traditional history discourse--a belief that Blacks did not play a role in the building of the U.S. nation. Central to the citizenship discourse was the level of critical commentary about the constitutional rights of men, which had not been extended to the African-American population.

To explicate on the paradox of U.S. democracy, each textbook highlighted the egregious treatment African Americans experienced during the enslavement periods, reconstruction and post-reconstruction, and de jure segregation during the early part of the twentieth century.

What African-American social studies educators accomplished through the pages of these books was to highlight how school children should view macro and micro versions of citizenship. This view constructed citizenship based on how democracy was conceptualized and how citizenship was viewed through the eyes of African-American citizens. These stories were completely different from how citizenship was described in traditional, White sources. The following sections describe the various ways citizenship was conceptualized by African-American social studies educators.

Through these narratives African-American social studies educators presented a critical citizenship discourse, which provided the reader with varied ways citizenship could be displayed through text. These constructs included agency as citizenship, citizen as soldier, civic engagement, and aesthetics as citizen.

Agency as Citizenship

Narratives through early Black history textbooks did not only specify oppressive acts and institutions created and maintained by racist Whites. A key strategy of African-American social studies educators was to outline African-American agencies that fought against restricted systems. The agency as citizenship approach was to explicitly dispute claims that African Americans were happy with their circumstance.

The educators detailed acts of resistance to express African-Americans unhappiness with their situation and to highlight that they understood and felt deeply implicated in the practicing of democracy explained throughout the Constitution. They also exemplified through their narratives that African Americans were not idle participants of their civil rights. However, the movement for full citizenship continued to be a long ongoing process since the enslavement period (Gates, 1988).

The narratives told stories of both mental and physical resistance. An example of mental resistance came from Pendleton's work on how enslaved African Americans used the justice system as a means for freedom. In her narratives, she described that many African Americans understood what was going on around them in terms of freedom and many were strategic in "using the master's tools" of the justice system to obtain full citizenship. Pendleton noted, "that many enslaved persons sued their owners for their liberty, charging that they were unlawfully held in bondage" (p. 85).

Citing an incident in Massachusetts, Pendleton described a petition signed by African Americans that was sent to the House of Representatives wanting freedom and access to land to work as freemen. Although this particular attempt was not successful, the process of suing for freedom indicated that African Americans were engaged in the democratic process and were acting as agents to improve their otherwise second-class status.

African-American educators also explained how African Americans resisted through physical forms such as racial uprisings or rebellions. Johnson's (1891) chapter, "Nat Turner and Others Who Struck for Freedom," and Woodson's (1922) chapter, "Self-Assertion," were examples of how African Americans resisted in a physical sense. In these chapters, Johnson and Woodson highlighted the efforts of African Americans' insurrections that amounted to violence and bloodshed. Johnson presented short narratives about Nat Turner and the Armistad revolts while Woodson were more thorough in their explanation of physical agency started by African Americans.

Woodson (1922) surmised that the idea of insurrections as freedom originated in 1793 from the successful events in Saint Domingue (Haiti). Uprising led by Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vesey, and Nat Turner were emphasized as the precursor of emancipation. Woodson (1922) remarked that "as long of Negros would so willingly risk their lives for freedom," antislavery sentiment would mature throughout the South, resulting in petitions, resolutions, and state legislation to end slavery.

Violence was not the only way physical agency was demonstrated. The attention to the Underground Railroad and Maroon cultures were examples of physical as well as mental agency. Eppse (1937) described the Underground Railroad as a "planned route over which the Negro slaves were guided to places in the North where they were free" (p. 180). He noted that the process was strategically developed where African Americans could secure fake passes, dress like the opposite sex, and even be shipped in boxes to free states just so they could enjoy the blessings of liberty.

The Maroon culture as explained by Johnson (1893) was a group of runaway slaves before the Civil War that hid in the swamps extending 50 miles from Norfolk, Virginia, into North Carolina. Johnson's version spoke more about the Virginia Maroon context in the U.S., while Woodson focused on international accounts of Maroon culture. The authors explained that the Maroons developed a culture while hiding in obscure places and created a society and economic system by secretly trading with merchants for goods.

African-American educators described the examples of the insurrections, the Underground Railroad, and the Maroons as acts of resistance and defiance to systems of oppression which were strategic ploys developed by African Americans to obtain freedom.

Citizen as Soldier

Another example of civic contributions came in narratives about the African-American solider as an important dimension of U.S. citizenship. The recasting of the story about the African-American soldier served two purposes. First, it brought to the forefront that African Americans had a vested interest in developing and preserving democracy. Second, the narratives highlighted African Americans as responsible, brave, and heroic because military service is considered the ultimate example of civic duty and sacrifice (Brown, Crowley, & King, 2011).

The educators ensured that readers understood that African Americans were involved and deeply influential in every war involving the U.S. Eppse (1937) presented throughout his textbook that African-American military involvement in every conflict consistently stayed between the hundreds of thousands to millions of soldiers. Quantifiably measuring the efforts of African Americans' military service indicated to readers that African Americans deeply contributed to sustaining U.S. democracy and were therefore worthy of full citizenship status.

Narratives that were attentive to acts of valor, bravery, and patriotism were key components to emphasizing African Americans' worth as nation builders and protectors of democracy. For example, Woodson (1922) shared that "one cause of the Boston Massacre was that a slave, out of love country, insulted a British officer" (p. 120). They go on to state that African Americans were "in the front rank of those opening in protesting against" the British.

Pendleton (1912) chronicled an exchange during the Civil War between a general and an African-American sergeant, in which the general remarked, "Color guard, protect, defend, die for, but do not surrender the flags." The sergeant replied, "Colonel I will bring back these colors to you or report to God the reason why" (p. 160).

Johnson (1987) detailed a battle in Virginia concerning a Negro regiment. The narrative tells a story of Ulysses Grant, General Ferrero, and African-American troops where a battle proceeded with Confederate troops. Eventually, the African-American regiment drove out the Confederate troops. Citing a military historian, General Badeau, Johnson (1893) proclaimed, "it was the first time when colored troops engaged in an important battle and display of soldierly qualities" (pp. 120-121). The results of such efforts and accomplishments on the battlefield were African-American soldiers gaining the respect from White soldiers as great citizen soldiers.

The educators, however, noted that African Americans were not automatically called on to be soldiers. The narratives in the textbooks indicated that because Whites held the belief that African Americans had inferior intellectual abilities, therefore, appropriately they held the most menial positions in the military. Originally they were not seen as capable of leading a battle or organizing military strategy. As Woodson (1922) noted, African Americans were thought of as "savages who should not be permitted to take part in a struggle between White men" (p. 121).

This idea of Whiteness as citizen solder was prominent throughout the textbooks. The educators, however, noted that this ideology was temporarily disbanded during times of war and for political reasons. There were direct correlations to the increase of African-American soldiers when manpower was needed, social uprising occurred, and the general way of life was threatened. African Americans responded because U.S. military service symbolized possible extension to full citizenship (Brown, Crowley, & King, 2011).

African-American educators did not tell stories that gave the impression that African-American soldiers were not critical of their position. The narratives did indicate the improper treatment of African Americans, yet, the citizen as solider approach was providing a nexus between military service and citizenship. In addition, it was about displaying the agency of the African-American citizen that despite a country that was indifferent to his citizenship, he would fight and give his all (Woodson, 1922).

For African Americans, military service symbolized the principles of full citizenship status and not a blind loyalty to a place or a people (Quarles, 1961; Woodson, 1922). What is important to understand about the symbolism of the African-American solider was that although they represented the lowest form of personhood (according to traditional, hegemonic ideas of personhood), they made the ultimate civic sacrifice--the willingness to die for one's country and protect U.S. interests (Brown, Crowley, & King, 2011).

Civic Engagement

African-American educators wanted to reveal African-American civic contributions to U.S. society. To do this, the educators dedicated entire chapters to the civic engagement of African Americans. For example, Eppse's (1938) chapter, "Contributions of the Negro to American Culture," detailed the various ways in which African Americans contributed to U.S. democracy, religion, education, arts and literature, and innovative science.

Eppse (1938) explained that African Americans helped "lay the very foundation of present America" (p. 361). He lauded the fact that African Americans gained much notoriety after Emancipation, which made African Americans an "integral part of American culture" (p. 363). He went on to cite James Bryce who said, "the American Negro made more progress

in 60 years after emancipation than the English had made in 600 years" (p. 363).

Johnson (1891) dedicated a whole chapter to Fredrick Douglass as well as a chapter that emphasized "Notable Negroes." Although Pendleton (1912) dedicated space throughout her book to highlight esteemed African Americans in history, her chapter, "Two Ways Thinking," highlighted the intellectual positions on education by featuring Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Dubois. Her last chapter, "A Light Diffused," is dedicated to over 100 contemporary Black achievers from all different professional fields.

Pendleton's book stood out because of her focus on African-American women. Notable women such as Phillis Wheatly and Harriet Tubman were discussed in many of the books, but Pendleton expanded the narratives that focused on "regular" African-American women who contributed through their profession and community organizations. Along with the mentioning of Nannie Borroughs, Mary Church Terrell, Anna Julie Cooper, and Ida B. Wells, the first few pages of "Light Diffused" underscored social achievements of over a dozen African-American women.

Woodson's (1922) chapter, "Achievement in Freedom," was dedicated to the intellectual achievement of African Americans. Similar to Pendleton, Woodson wrote in great detail about African Americans throughout the text but "Achievement in Freedom" was the most comprehensive medium that altered the racial narrative. Business organizations such as the National Business League, National Bankers' Association, the National Association of Funeral Directors, and the National Negro Retail Merchants' Association were highlighted throughout the pages. In addition, the chapter included prominent churchmen, educators, inventors, artist, and writers. People such as Madame CJ Walker, R. R Morton (principal of Tuskegee Institute), Booker T. Washington, and W. E. B. Dubois were featured as exceptional African Americans. These acknowledgements were not simple listings of famous African Americans, but served a purpose to record the civic engagement of African Americans, something that traditional textbooks lacked and ignored.

Aesthetics as Citizen

African-Americans educators also utilized diverse images in the textbooks to reconfigure the racial imagery of African Americans. The standard racist caricatures during the early twentieth century not only constructed the Black body as ugly and grotesque, but the animalistic images were coded to represent African Americans' lack of intelligence and childlike dispositions. African American educators utilized what Gates' (1998) described is the "representation as reconstruction." Pictures in textbooks were a way for "African Americans to re-present their public selves in order to reconstruct their public, reproducible images" (Gates, 1998, p. 129).

Although the dominant culture used illustrations as a way to "other" African Americans, African-American educators used photos as agency. It must be noted, however, that the images were not simply a way to reconstruct the images for Whites, but that the primary "intention was to restructure the race's image of itself" (Gates, 1988, p. 140).

The most popular pictures used of prominent African Americans were Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Dubois, and Fredrick Douglass. The photos of Washington, Dubois, and Douglass epitomized ideas around Black masculinity. All the men looked distinguished through their handsome physiques, strong facial features, strong chins, and broad foreheads. Their clothes were impeccable and their facial expressions were of serious demeanor.

Another example was Eppse's (1938) illustration of George Washington Carver. Carver was shown working in a science laboratory concentrating intensely on an experiment. His face and body were stoic and his dress professional with his lab coat and a suit. This picture represented Carver's serious intellectual demeanor as he worked.

All of these men's pictures represented part of the African-American educators' strategic role in showing African-American men as strong leaders and of moral character, all qualities that were excluded from traditional textbooks and popular discourse.

Pendleton's (1912) representation of Phillis Wheatley, in the chapter, "The Dawning Light," was simarily used to exemplify African-American womanhood. Pendleton described Wheatley in the chapter as intelligent, well mannered, and of high morality. Wheatley's photograph represented her as an intellectual with one hand with a pen and the other hand on her face as to elicit deep thought, which was a challenge to mainstream ideas of African-American intelligence.

African-American educators had a distinct purpose for these pictures of African Americans. These representations of African-American men and women were strategic visuals to help reinforce African-American respectability and a strong identity of African-American femininity and masculinity (Gates, 1998; Wallace & Smith, 2012). These pictures also represented strength, leadership, and moral character of the African-American race, characteristics that were linked to U.S. citizenship. The pictures symbolized to Black children that this is who you are, but also gave inspiration to who they could become (Wallace & Smith, 2012).

The textbook pictures were part of the aesthetics as citizenship discourse because they fought stereotypes about the inhuman ways African Americans looked. The visuals in the textbooks "fundamentally determine what it meant to be human and distinguished men from animals" (Wallace & Smith, 2012, p.6). For these African-American educators, the pictures they included represented the quintessential idea of Blackness as citizen.

Discussion and Conclusion

The intention of this article has been to explain how African-American educators between 1890 and 1940 conceptualized citizenship education through the writing of Black history textbooks. For traditional social studies educators of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the curriculum was one of intentionally demeaning African Americans' civic contributions in order to sustain Whiteness as the quintessential and normalized idea of citizenship.

The findings here suggest that African-American educators directly responded to these racists' civic discourses by critically questioning the ideas of citizenship and democracy and showing how African Americans fought for citizenship rights and contributed to the nation building efforts through the military, education, and everyday life.

The resulting textbooks allowed the reader to understand Black people's unique position as U.S. citizens by being critical of U.S. oppression and the forced relocation of African people. This binary citizenship, or double consciousness (Dubois, 1903), was seen throughout the citizenship narratives. African-American social studies educators tactically told stories that illustrated the contentious citizenship status of African-Americans as slaves and soldiers. Although the narratives lauded elements of the loyal patriot and faithful citizen, the educators balanced these perspectives by providing space to indicate the inconsistencies of U.S democracy and the underlying reasons for African Americans' loyalty and interest of freedom.

It is important to note that for Merl Eppse, Edward A. Johnson, Lelia A. Pendleton, and Carter G. Woodson, their textbooks also included a larger purpose a revision of the historical narratives. The textbooks were conceptualized around challenging the traditional Euro-centric epistemologies about Blackness within the public imagination.

The theoretical readings of the citizenship discourse through an alternative Black curriculum framework broadens the ideological space of African-American educators and helps scholars and practitioners understand a more holistic picture of the early multicultural movement and its relationship to social studies education. Black history textbooks are examples of the agency of African-American educators who created and published counter narratives for the purpose of providing an equitable curriculum to African-American school children.

This legacy of African-American educators provides social studies scholars' insight into the antecedents of multicultural education. In addition to this, an alternative Black curriculum framework allows researchers and practitioners to see the challenging discourse of African-American educators who purposely challenged the traditional Euro-epistemic of social studies education. These educators took control of their historical production, thus allowing for a redefinition of themselves as citizens.

This democratic process of knowledge creation allowed school children to connect with multiple and shared knowledge that was culturally relevant, comprehensive, and indigenously voiced (Swartz, 2012, p. 35). The alternative Black curriculum helps researchers and practitioners understand how curriculum is approached from Black epistemologies and how these perspectives re-imaged a new Black ontology.

It is important that social studies move towards a more inclusive historiography that explores the theoretical underpinnings of African-American educators. To do this, I contend that social studies foundations scholars need to approach their research in three ways.

First, they need to expand historiography to include those African-American educators who were pertinent to the multicultural movement. Social Studies history tends to exclude transdisciplinary perspectives and thus leave out salient historical characters who have explored important components in social studies education. Future work should attend to the work of other African-American educators such as W. E. B. Dubois, Anna Julie Cooper, Alain Locke, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Laura Eliza Wilks, to name a few.

Comparative examinations are needed in the field to highlight the similar, divergent, and complex ways social studies education has been conceptualized. Although comparison of African-American and White social studies theoreticians are needed for a broader understanding of social studies, I caution that this type of research can infer normalized notions of Whiteness as the standard. Instead, African-American social studies educators' work can stand on its own while the examinations look within and outside of different fractions of African-American educators.

Researching diverse African-American educational communities will help us understand the African-American educational tradition as multifaceted and sometimes contentious. Therefore, studies that focus on the differences of textbooks written by and for academicians and autodidacts, rural and urban, and elementary and secondary can be good starting points to understand how African-American education was produced throughout various African American communities.

Second, there is a need to explore the theoretical importance of African-American educators and race in social studies education. It is not only important to identify African Americans' social studies contributions but to theoretically situate the research. An important focal point for social studies historians is to engage in the dialogue of racial theories to make sense of the field's complexity. The issue of race is extremely important in examining early social studies work because race played an influential factor in the development of the field (Dilworth, 2004; King, Davis, & Brown, 2012).

The alternative Black curriculum framework allows researchers to examine the knowledge production process and intellectual history through textbooks and other resources such as teacher journals, encyclopedias, plays, and library archives. This type of multicultural social studies situates the understanding of African-American curriculum from a "bottom-up historical framework" (Murray, 2013, p.101).

The alternative Black curriculum is not the only useful racial theory. Social studies and multicultural scholars could also examine African-American social studies concepts through what I call the taxonomy of race in foundational research. These theoretical lenses include racial formation theory (Omi & Winant, 1994), racial literary (Guinier, 2004), revisionist ontology (Brown, 2010; Brown, Crowley, & King, 2012; Mills, 1998), and re-membered theory (Swartz, 2012). These theories allow for a deeper analysis of the field and could help provide insight into improving educational curriculum and pedagogy in the contemporary era.

In addition, these theoretical frameworks help reexamine African-American social studies educators' common practice of writing contributionist narratives of Black history. Writing on this subject suggests that African-American educators were simply writing biographical accounts and presenting narratives that elevated the Black race. Although such biographical writings were instrumental to African-American social studies theoretical approaches and the narratives were used to racially uplift the race, these monolithic constructs can be problematic when trying to understand the underlying theoretical reasoning for Black history textbooks and the scholarship of African Americans during the nadir.

In many ways, these research positions can provide perceptive to oppositional research that speculates Black history was "ethnic cheerleading" (King, 1992), that the narratives that were written did not have any true historical value in understanding the dynamics of Black history and culture.

Third, there is a need to expand where social studies history research is conducted. Research should be extended to include scholarly and practitioner journals such as the Journal of Negro Education, Journal of Negro History, Negro Digest, and Negro History Bulletin. Research organizations such as the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and the Association of Social Studies of Negro Teachers as well as state-specific African-American teacher organizations and their publications can provide some interesting insight into how multicultural social studies has developed in varied spaces. The exclusions of these research sites has limited how social studies foundation scholarship can explore a more nuanced understanding about the field. Extricating knowledge from these resources can help reveal insightful positions of multicultural social studies theorized by African Americans.

While early twentieth century African-American educators have become a focus point for many scholars in social studies education, their contributions are still largely a developing research area. Yet African-American social studies educators were able through their writings to speak for and name the important historical events that influenced the race. These African-American social studies educators provided a space for African-American schoolchildren (as well as White) to envision African-American identity as normative to their distinctive experiences and realities.

New research trajectories in social studies foundations and curriculum studies should be theoretically grounded to help researchers understand how race, diversity, and culture interact with other notions of social education. Scholars should not only look at the alternative Black curriculum as an important theory to historically examine curriculum and social studies, but these ideas can be helpful in examining contemporary curriculum and classroom practices of Black history and multicultural education. Educators need to question how social studies textbooks include and exclude narratives that account for various perspectives. These insightful paradigms explore the possibility of helping educators and researchers understand complex contemporary curriculum issues.


Achebe, C. (1994). The Art of Fiction. Paris Review, 139. http://www.theparisreview. org/interviews/1720/the-art-of-fiction-no-139-chinua-achebe

Bair, S. (2009). The struggle for community and respectability: Black women school founders and the politics of character education in the early twentieth century. Theory and Research in Social Education, 37(4), 570-599.

Bair, S. (2013). The early years of Negro history week, 1926-1950. In C. Woyshner & C. Bohan (Eds), Histories of social studies and race, 1865-2000 (pp. 57-78). New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

Banks, J. A. (1992). African-American scholarship and the evolution of multicultural education. The Journal of Negro Education, 61(3), 273-286.

Brown, A. L. (2010). Counter-memory and race: An examination of African-American scholars' challenge to early 20th century K-12 historical discourse. The Journal of Negro Education, 79(1), 54-65.

Brown, A. L., Crowley, R. M., & King, L.J., (2011). Black civitas: An examination of Carter G. Woodson's contributions to teaching about race, citizenship, and the Black soliden Theory and Research in Social Education, 39(2), 277-299.

Chapman, T. K. (2004). Foundations of multicultural education: Marcus Garvey and the United Negro Improvement Association. Journal of Negro Education, 73(4), 424-434.

Crocco, M. S., & Davis Jr, O. L. (2002). Building a legacy: Women in social education, 1784-1984. NCSS Bulletin. National Council for the Social Studies.

Crocco, M. S., (2004). Dealing with difference in the social studies: A historical perspective. International Journal of Social Education, 18(2), 106-126.

Dagbovie, P. (2007). The early Black history movement, Carter G. Woodson and Lorenzo Johnston Greene. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Dagbovie, P. (2010). African-American history reconsidered. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Dilworth, P. (2004). Competing conceptions of citizenship education: Thomas Jesse Jones and Carter G. Woodson. International Journal of Social Education, 18(2), 1-10.

Du Bois, W. E. B. (1999/1935). Black reconstruction in America 1860-1880. New York: Free Press.

Du Bois, W. E. B. (1903). The souls of black folk. New York: Oxford University Press.

Elson, R. (1964). Guardian of tradition: American schoolbooks of the nineteenth century. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

Eppse, M. R. (1937). The Negro, too, in American history. New York: National Publication Company.

Fallace, T. (2012). Recapitulation theory and the new education: Race, culture, imperialism, and pedagogy, 1894-1916. Curriculum Inquiry, 42(4), 510-533.

Foucault, M. (1977). The order of things: An archaeology of the human sciences. New York: Pantheon.

Foster, S. J. (1999) The struggle for American identity: Treatment of ethnic groups in United States history textbooks. History of Education, 28(3), 251-227.

Gates, H. L. (1988). The trope of the new Negro and the reconstruction of the image of the Black Representations, 24, 129-155.

Grimes, P. (2007). Teaching democracy before Brown: Civic education in Geogria's African-American schools, 1930-1954. Theory and Research in Social Education, 35(1), 9-31.

Guinier, L. (2004). From racial liberalism to racial literacy: Brown v. Board of Education and the interest-divergence dilemma. The Journal of American History, 91, 92-118.

Howard, T. (2004). Social studies during the civil rights movement. In C. Woyshner, J. Watras & M.S. Crocco (Eds), Social education in the twentieth century: Curriculum and context for Citizenship (pp. 127-141). New York: Peter Lang.

Jones, T. J. (1908). Social studies in the Hampton curriculum. Hampton, VA: Hampton Institute Press.

Johnson, E. A. (1987). A school history of the Negro eace in America from 1619 to 1890. New York: Chadwyck-Healey.

King, J. E. (1992). Diaspora literacy and consciousness in the struggle against miseducation in the Black community. Journal of Negro Education, 61(3), 317-340.

King, L. J., Crowley, R. M., & Brown, A. L. (2010). The forgotten legacy of Carter G. Woodson: Contributions to multicultural social studies and African-American history. The Social Studies, 101, 211-215.

King, L., Davis, C., & Brown, A. (2012). African-American history, race, and textbooks: An examination of the works of Harold O. Rugg and Carter G. Woodson. Journal of Social Studies Research, 36(4), 359-386.

Mills, C. (1998). Revisionist ontologies: Theorizing White supremacy. In C. Mills (Eds), Blackness visible: Essay on philosophy and race. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Murray, A. D. (2012). Countering the master narrative: The development of the alternative Black curriculum in social studies, 1890-1940. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Maryland, College Park, MD.

Murray, A. D. (2013). Countering the master narrative in U.S. social studies: Nannie Helen Burroughs and new narratives in history education. In C. Woyshner & C. Bohan (Eds), Histories of social studies and race, 1865-2000 (pp. 99-114). New York: Palgrave.

Nash, G., Crabtree, C., & Dunn, R. (2000). History on trial: Culture wars and the teaching of the past. New York: Vintage.

Nelson, M. R. (1988). Merle R. Eppse and studies of Blacks in American history textbooks. International Journal of Social Education, 3(3), 84-90.

Pendleton, L. A. (1917). Our new possessions--the Danish West Indies. The Journal of Negro History, 2(3), 267-288.

Pendleton, L.A. (1921, March). The foolish and the wise: Sallie Runner is introduced to Socrates. The Crisis, 21(5), 210-212.

Pendleton, L.A. (1922, May). The foolish and the wise: Sanctum 777NS. D.C.O.U. meets Cleopatra. The Crisis, 24(1), 17- 20.

Pendleton, L.A. (1971). A narrative of the Negro. New York: Books for Libraries Press.

Quarles, B. (1961). The Negro in the American Revolution. Williamsburg, VA: Institute of Early American History and Culture.

Reddick, L. (1934). Racial attitudes in American history textbooks of the South. Journal of Negro History, 19, 225-265.

Rugg, H. O. (1931). An introduction to problems of American culture. Boston: Ginn & Company.

Swartz, E. E. (2013). Removing the master script: Benjamin Banneker "re-membered." Journal of Black Studies, 44(1), 31-49.

Wallace, M. O., & Smith, S. M.(2012). Pictures and progress: Early photography and the making of African-American identity. Durham, NC: Duke University Press

Watkins, W. (1993). Black curriculum orientations: A preliminary inquiry. Harvard Educational Review, 63, 321-338.

Watkins, W, (2006). Social reconstruction in education: Seeking our Black voices. In K. Riley (Ed.), Social reconstruction: People, politics, and perspectives (pp. 211-234). Charlotte, NC: Information Age.

Wineburg, S., & Monte-Sano, C. (2008). 'Famous Americans': The changing pantheon of American heroes. Journal of American History, 94(4), 1182-1202.

Woodson, C. G. (1922). The Negro in our history. Washington DC: Associated Publishers.

Woodson, C. G. (1928). African myths, together with proverbs. Washington, DC: Associated Publishers.

Woodson, C. G. (1928). Negro makers in history. Washington DC: Associated Publishers.

Woodson, C. G. (1933). The miseducation of the Negro. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press.

Woodson C. G. (1936). African background outlines. Washington, DC: Associated Publishers.

Woodson, C. G., & Wesley, C. (1935). The story of the Negro retold. Washington DC: Associated Publishers.

Woodson, C. G. (1939). African heroes and heroines. Washington, DC: Associated Publishers.

Woyshner, C. (2009). Introduction: Histories of social studies thought and practice in schools and communities. Theory and Research in Social Education, 37(4), 426-431.

Woyshner, C., & Bohan, C. H. (Eds.). (2012). Histories of social studies and race: 1865-2000. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Zimmerman, J. (2002). Whose America?: Culture wars in the public schools. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

LaGarrett J. King is an assistant professor in secondary social studies education with the Eugene T. Moore School of Education at Clemson University, Ciemson, South Carolina.
COPYRIGHT 2014 Caddo Gap Press
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2014 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:King, LaGarrett J.
Publication:Multicultural Education
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2014
Previous Article:Happy birthday Frederick Douglass: a model for teaching literacy narratives of freedom in the classroom.
Next Article:Language choice & language power: children's use of Korean & English in a two-way immersion program.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters