Just as Mississippi whites in the 1950s and 1960s had fought to
maintain school segregation, they battled in the 1970s to control
the school curriculum. Educators faced a crucial choice between
continuing to teach a white supremacist view of history or offering
students a more enlightened multiracial view of their state's past.
In 1974, when Random House's Pantheon Books published
Mississippi: Conflict and Change
(written and edited by
James W. Loewen and Charles Sallis), the defenders of the
traditional interpretation struck back at the innovative textbook.
Intolerant of its inclusion of African Americans, Native Americans,
women, workers, and subjects like poverty, white terrorism, and
corruption, the state textbook commission rejected the book, and
its action prompted Loewen and Sallis to join others in a federal
lawsuit (Loewen v. Turnipseed
) challenging the book ban.
Charles W. Eagles explores the story of the controversial
ninth-grade history textbook and the court case that allowed its
adoption with state funds. Mississippi: Conflict and Change
and the struggle for its acceptance deepen our understanding both
of civil rights activism in the movement's last days and of an
early controversy in the culture wars that persist today.