Texas Conservatives Closer To Banning Cesar Chavez From School Textbooks

Cesar Chavez with Bobby Kennedy

Cesar Chavez with Bobby Kennedy

What would happen if there was a debate in your state where the school board told you they were removing Abraham Lincoln from their textbooks? No excuse would even come close to advocating for such a thing, after all Lincoln was a key figure in American history — declaring the Emancipation Proclamation, which helped put an end to slavery. It was a heroic act during a time when white Southerners had so much influence and blacks had few advocates. It’s a lesson about doing the right thing, about standing up for others who are oppressed. It’s what we want our children to learn. But, in the state of Texas that lesson is what they are trying to erase — not about Lincoln, but about Cesar Chavez.

A debate takes place in Texas every 10 years — the new curriculum that will be taught in the public schools and the historical figures that will make it into the textbooks. This time around such debate has sparked anger from Latin-American groups who are fighting to keep Cesar Chavez in the social studies textbooks before a preliminary school board vote on January 13.

Cesar Chavez as you may already know is the most notable Latino figure of the 20th Century. What Martin Luther King Jr. is to the African American community, Chavez is to Latinos. His work not only led to major labor reforms for farm workers and their families in California, but he also empowered a whole new generation of people to stand up for their rights and challenge the status quo in a peaceful and strategic manner.

Nevertheless, advisers to the Texas Board of Education have come to question the historical value of teaching children in Texas about Chavez’ life. Their verdict without a trial has cast Chavez as inconsequential to American history despite the fact that his legacy can strongly resonate with children in Texas who happen to be mostly Latino.

The United Farm Workers of America — the union that Chavez and Dolores Huerta helped found in 1962 — is leading the fight to stop the Texas School Board from banning Chavez. According to UFWA, Gail Lowe, the chair of the board who happens to be an outspoken creationist, has said that:

(Cesar Chavez) “lacks the stature…and contributions” and should not “be held up to our children as someone worthy of emulation.”

But Chavez is not the only historical figure possibly being banned from Texas textbooks, the UFWA is informing its members that Lowe is also attempting to remove Irma Rangel, the first Hispanic woman elected to the state Legislature.

So what’s the excuse that the Texas Board of Education is coming up with to justify such actions? The UFWA says that board members and their appointees have complained about an “over representation of minorities” in the current social studies standards. You see, two Latino historical figures are just too many.

Governor Rick Perry is standing by Lowe on this one, after all he appointed her. Republicans don’t see it in their best interest to teach children about civil rights figures who could inspire black or brown people. The tactics used by Chavez like fasting and civil disobedience, which were taught by Ghandi and used also by Martin Luther King Jr. could give children ideas. But really, are the Republicans that scared? Obviously, yes. The last thing they want is to have a whole new generation of children who will grow up to stand up for their rights, hold vigils and organize boycotts.

The big lesson that will turn out from this debate is that at the end of the day if they manage to ban Chavez from the textbooks, it would prove that Texas’ politicians — the Perry’s, Bush’s, and Lowe’s — are not the cowboys they think they are, but a bunch of cowards wearing hats and boots; white folks who are too scared of the brown people and what they may do.

Their approach is the same old colonialism, to assimilate the “savages,” but keep them ignorant. Well, guess what? Not going to happen. In this case, Texas conservatives may take Chavez out of the classroom, but they can’t take him out of the hearts of the parents who will find ways to teach their kids about him, and more importantly, teach them to stand up for justice and to do the right thing.

The UFWA has a petition to keep Chavez in the textbooks, click here to visit their site.

To read more about this debate, click here.

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31 Responses to Texas Conservatives Closer To Banning Cesar Chavez From School Textbooks

  1. Pingback:

    +4 Vote -1 Vote +1uberVU - social comments

  2. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Stephen Dufrechou
    January 10, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Good job here, Dolores!…

    As usual–it’s fear of the “backwards” values of “invading” foreign cultures, etc, that trumps really-existing reality for political elites and their ideologues….

    One becomes tempted, at times, to want to beat proponents of this bans like this over the head with Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States”.

  3. Gilbert Mercier
    +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Gilbert Mercier
    January 10, 2010 at 10:55 am

    Of course all of us remember the “Yes We Can!” slogan of the Obama campaign. What some may not remember is that the original slogan “Si Se Puede!” was invented by Cesar Chavez to rally exploited immigrant farm workers. Trying to get Chavez out of schools’ text books is like trying to get rid off Darwin, even so the same folks probably would want to do it if they could.

    • -1 Vote -1 Vote +1wiggy
      January 10, 2010 at 11:46 pm

      except chavez impacts a certain group of people…

      while darwin affects every human on earth, and his impact will remain until the death of our species.

  4. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Doggie
    January 10, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Gail Lowe appears to be just another in a long list of mean spirited,right wing, nut job, fools!!!!!

  5. -25 Vote -1 Vote +1Michael
    January 10, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    If they do include him in the textbooks, I hope that they mention that he was accused of being a rapis. He was not a good person, he doesn’t deserve to remembered as anything other than a criminal. If you are defending him, you are defending a sex offender.

    • +4 Vote -1 Vote +1really
      January 11, 2010 at 12:20 pm

      Hahaha, you’re funny!

  6. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1David
    January 10, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    “Lincoln was a key figure in American history — declaring the Emancipation Proclamation, which helped put an end to slavery. It was a heroic act during a time when white Southerners had so much influence and blacks had few advocates”

    White Southerners had so much influence? Not in the government that Lincoln was in charge of. In fact the Emancipation Proclamation only applied to the slaves in Confederate that did not return to the Union by the date of the proclamation…states out of the control of the United States government of Abraham Lincoln. I’m not diminishing its importance. I’m just tired of people stating how important history is and then focusing on the facts and not the context. If Chavez is taught with the full context that should be afforded him I’m all for it. If he is just to be held up as an example of the multicultural pantheon without explanation of his important…well then what is the point.

    • -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Gatz
      January 11, 2010 at 12:12 pm

      thank god someone beat me to this. I get entirely sick of hearing how the north rose up valiantly to fight the evil south and stop slavery. It makes me sick but that is all I hear from my history classes in college.

      • +2 Vote -1 Vote +1David
        January 11, 2010 at 1:20 pm

        History is very complicated and politicians who get involved prevent it from being taught properly. Everyone wants to have their pet person/project addressed and no context is ever provided.

    • +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Tampa
      January 12, 2010 at 11:56 am

      I posted something similar as I had not read all of the comments. I too am tired of Lincoln being portrayed as such a great friend to the slaves. He truly did not care about them, he just knew that was the only way he could win. I am a VERY proud Southerner and am very happy the South lost and slavery survives as a histroical point and not present today!

    • +2 Vote -1 Vote +1trajanc
      January 13, 2010 at 2:27 am

      White southerners did have huge influence. The Proclamation was shaped greatly by their influence. It was not direct but the character of the proclamation was principally shaped as a reaction to the political character of the south which was in turn dominated by whites.

      And you are parsing the effect and meaning of the Proclamation. Although most slaves were not freed immediately, the Proclamation brought freedom to thousands of slaves the day it went into effect in parts of nine of the ten states to which it applied (Texas being the exception).
      Additionally, the Proclamation provided the legal framework for the emancipation of nearly all four million slaves as the Union armies advanced, and committed the Union to ending slavery, which was a controversial decision even in the North.

  7. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1Highwater
    January 10, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Reality has a well-known liberal bias.

    • +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Stephen Dufrechou
      January 10, 2010 at 10:25 pm

      Sure. Because this comment makes loads of sense and is firmly rooted in objective facts, too. Sure.

  8. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1wesley
    January 11, 2010 at 4:13 am

    having fairly recently graduated from texas public schools (2007) i can say i’ve never even heard of him(and i was a very good student, especially in history) so my question is how can they remove someone they never included?

    • Vote -1 Vote +1alejandra
      January 11, 2010 at 6:06 pm

      I completely agree with you, I’ve never heard of him in any classroom throughout my high school career in Texas. Their argument saddens me because it shows how much resentment they have for Latinos in my home state.

      • Vote -1 Vote +1jackie
        January 13, 2010 at 10:52 am

        didn’t learn about him either in elementary or highschool, might have in college but did learn at some point living in austin perhaps because he has a significant influence there but not in texas history but i have to say, the texas public school system is lacking a lot more than Ceasar Chavez……

  9. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Alerka
    January 11, 2010 at 4:25 am

    Gail Lowe appears to be just another in a long list of mean spirited,right wing, nut job, fools!!!!!!!

  10. Vote -1 Vote +1Efrain Ortiz Jr.
    January 12, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Typical…It has happened before and we can’t allow it to continue..as the Latino population continues to grow the removal of such figures is simply another attempt at deprivation/another attempt at a slap in the face…

  11. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tampa
    January 12, 2010 at 11:53 am

    I think the statement “Lincoln was a key figure in American history — declaring the Emancipation Proclamation, which helped put an end to slavery. It was a heroic act during a time when white Southerners had so much influence and blacks had few advocates.” is misleading. Most textbooks no longer state that Lincoln only freed slaves in the South — NOT the North.

  12. -3 Vote -1 Vote +1Will
    January 12, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    Texas: one of the fattest states in the nation, and racing to become one of the dumbest too. How conservative of you Texas!

  13. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Paul R
    January 12, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Wasn’t Cesar Chavez one of the first to advocate for the barring illegal immigrants from the US. Funny how this sorry omits that. To compare him to Lincoln is like comparing George Washington to George Bush. Just cuz they have the same first name doesn’t make them comparable.

  14. -6 Vote -1 Vote +1PhoneGuy
    January 12, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    The answer is simple.

    If Texas wants to ‘dumb down’ the curriculum and push through a religious right agenda, we all need to stop accepting diplomas from Texas schools.

    If universities and employers stopped admitting and hiring anyone educated in Texas, I think the problem will quickly solve itself.

  15. -6 Vote -1 Vote +1Mary Ann
    January 12, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    I can see that this web site will not post my comments.

    I will followup with this abuse of internet, report, and publicize if my comments are not posted as submitted.

  16. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Robert
    January 12, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Abraham Lincoln was not an advocate for equality. He abolished slavery to keep the British from entering the war on the side of the South. He was only trying to preserve the union. Learn history before spouting the spoon fed BS taught in schools.

  17. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Rhonda
    January 13, 2010 at 12:02 am

    You actually expect parents to teach kids about Cesar Chavez? A lot of them don’t even know who the vice president is.

  18. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Space
    January 13, 2010 at 12:19 am

    FYI Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, a United States of America hero, someone to be looked up to by all, is not mentioned in the Texas World History books.

  19. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Sandy
    January 13, 2010 at 10:15 am

    I say leave him in the textbooks, but tell the REAL story. I had a friend (now deceased) who was a supervisor for LA County Parks and Recreation and he tells a different story. Chavez would ride around in his limo most of the time wearing expensive suits. Right before he addressed a crowd he would change vehicles and clothes and drive up in an old ratty pick up truck wearing jeans. Chavez may have had empathy for the poor oppressed farm worker, but it certainly made him rich as well. His hypocrisy should be noted in any text books regarding this “iconic” figure.

  20. -4 Vote -1 Vote +1Qallix
    January 14, 2010 at 10:03 am

    The Moloch Axis Demoniacs little by little, but by bit are destroying the nuclear family & imposing their Demonic-no-values-culture onto society as a whole. And what are the American & Canadian citizens doing about it? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!!
    Funny…don’t you think the time has come to KILL OFF the moloch axis demoniacs doing their satanism? If they could kill the Kennedy brothers with Manchurian candidates & blow up buildings & blame Arabs, then WHY can’t the brothers, white-trash, etc. start killing them off??? GO 4 it!

  21. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1paul
    January 15, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    makes you wonder what else is banned in textbooks that they don’t let you know

  22. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Mary
    January 18, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Cesar Chavez didn’t start the ‘labor movement’, Filipinos did. Go to youtube and watch video, “Delano Manongs”. I don’t know why he got all the credit.

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