Legacies links for January 30, 2023: Black history in Florida and other skirmishes in the culture wars

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Splash Mountain (and its racist legacy) shuts down after 30-plus years.
image source: no longer available from the Disney World website!

Teaching the history of slavery:

  • Cassandra Spratling, “How do you explain slavery to kids?,” National Geographic (January 26, 2023): LINK. “It’s important to tackle the topic in an age-appropriate way, experts say—and to make sure children understand how the legacy of slavery informs life today.”
  • James Grossman and Jeremy C. Young, “The Integrity of History Education,” Inside Higher Ed (January 24, 2023): LINK. “If higher education leaders and faculty hope to maintain the independence and educational quality of their institutions and to protect the democracy such institutions serve, they cannot afford to keep silent about legislation that censors their colleagues in K-12.” Case in point: laws that limit the discussion of slavery and racism in public schools.
  • Jeff Brumley, “Knowing a church’s history on slavery can be a nudge toward redemption, historians say,” Baptist News Global (January 24, 2023): LINK. In her new book, Forging a Christian Order, historian Kimberly Kellison discusses the “collusion of Baptist leaders, churches, associations, and seminaries in promoting belief in slavery as a religious and social necessity fully supported by Scripture.” A central figure in the movement for “a white-constructed Christian model of slavery” was Richard Furman, the namesake of CIC member Furman University.
  • Maggie Harrison, “AI of Andrew Jackson, who literally owned slaves, insists that he wasn’t racist,” Futurism (January 20, 2023): LINK. A cheeky review of a new AI chatbot, Historical Figures, which directs our attention to the scary ways that artificial intelligence might be used in classrooms (or elsewhere) to misconstrue history.

Contests over African American history in Florida:

  • Kaitlyn Radde, “Disney World’s Splash Mountain runs dry, as the iconic ride closes for good,” NPR (January 23, 2023): LINK. Disney World’s Splash Mountain, which drew heavily on the racist 1946 film Song of the South, has permanently closed after more than 30 years of operation. Instead, the ride will reopen as Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, named for Disney’s first Black princess. When it was first released, the NAACP denounced the Song of the South as an “idyllic master-slave relationship which is a distortion of the facts.”
  • Bethany Bell, “Florida’s rejection of an AP course is the latest salvo in a very old war,” The Washington Post (January 25, 2023): LINK. Most people reading this blog already know that last week the state of Florida rejected the College Board’s experimental AP course in African American history as “lacking educational value.” The author of this essay offers a longer view of the culture wars, focusing on the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) and their preferred interpretation of the Lost Cause (which still distorts history instruction across the South).


  • “Booker Reintroduces Legislation to Form Commission for Study of Reparation Proposals for African Americans,” United States Senate (January 24, 2023): LINK. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (D) introduced a proposal to “study the impact of slavery and the continuing discrimination against African-Americans and will make recommendations on reparation proposals for the descendants of slaves.”
  • Fatima Hussein, “Yellen visits historic site of slave-trading post off the coast of Senegal,” PBS NewsHour (January 21, 2023): LINK. While visiting Goree Island during a 10-day trip to rebuild economic relations between the United States and Africa, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that “the [Biden] administration has not embraced reparations as part of the answer” to racial inequality.
  • Kassidy Arena, “What would reparations for Black communities look like in rural Missouri?,” KCUR Radio (January 25, 2023): LINK. “Reparation efforts in urban area are gaining national attention, as both Kansas City and St. Louis study what they can do to make amends for harm inflicted on African Americans. But elsewhere in Missouri, rural areas are taking their own steps toward righting historic wrongs on a neighborhood level.”