Teach the Reconstruction Era

School Boards

The Reconstruction era is full of powerful examples of how interracial grassroots alliances came together in the aftermath of the Civil War to redefine citizenship, expand voting rights, and change laws that institutionalized discrimination.  

Yet many in the United States don’t understand this history — or how they, too, can work toward a more perfect union — because it is often left out or rushed through in textbooks, curricula, and classrooms. Students exposed to this history at all are often given an imbalanced view that emphasizes the violent white supremacist backlash over the important victories of Black activists and their allies during Reconstruction. This emphasis deprives students of the opportunity to appreciate and learn from the successes and examples of Reconstruction while simultaneously obscuring the causes of the Jim Crow regime that followed.

Please sign the petition below to school boards and join the more than 170 noted scholars of U.S. history who have signed an open letter with this same call, including Eric Foner, Ibram X. Kendi, Isabel Wilkerson, Bryan Stevenson, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Charles Payne, Kate Masur, James Loewen, Greg Carr, Keisha Blain, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Erica Armstrong Dunbar, and Jeanne Theoharis.

Sponsored by
Washington, DC

To: School Boards
From: [Your Name]

In this pivotal moment for the United States, we the undersigned call on education leaders to ensure students have the knowledge to be active participants in a multiracial democracy. To honor our history and the urgency of the present moment, we urge you to adopt resolutions committing to teaching the grassroots history of Reconstruction.

It has never been more important for adults and students alike to participate in learning the lessons of the Reconstruction era so that we can apply them to the challenges we face today.

Accordingly, we urge you to examine how much time is currently dedicated to teaching the Reconstruction Era in kindergarten through 12th grade, make a plan to increase it, and ensure that teaching materials and curricula in schools reflect the everyday people who powered these movements.