Texas Educators Finally Recognize Slavery Played 'Central Role' In Civil War

by Cassandra Stone
Image via Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Students in Texas will now learn that slavery — and primarily slavery — caused Civil War

The Texas Board of Education voted yesterday to change the way students statewide learn about the Civil War — namely, that slavery played a “central role” in the war. Previously, the official curriculum did not list slavery as the main cause of the war.

Prior to Friday’s vote, the social studies curriculum listed three causes: sectionalism, states’ rights, and slavery. In that order. Earlier this fall, state Democrats proposed changing the curriculum to list slavery as the sole cause. Republicans disagreed.

The final vote was based on a compromise: Texas students will learn that “the central role of the expansion of slavery” caused sectionalism and discord over states’ rights — leading to the start of the Civil War.

Lawrence Allen Jr., a Houston Democrat on the board — and the only African-American member of said board — tells NPR he helped write the new curriculum language.

He says he thinks the new language comes closer to historical accuracy than the old version. “I don’t think we really have that as a consensus in our state,” he says. “And so if we can’t drive it to a consensus in our state, we need to let our students look at it from all points of view.”

Plenty of people, including educators, offered their thoughts on the changes.

Some parents shared their concerns about their own childrens’ history curriculum.

Others were quick to get right to the point.

Earlier this year, the Texas Board of Education made waves when they considered removing Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller from the history curriculum — but voted yesterday to not revise history by keeping them as subjects students should learn about.

Though these votes reflect a decision to update the curriculum in ways it absolutely should be — none of the subjects or historical facts are definitively mandatory.