MLK’s Legacy Under Siege in Texas

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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Quiz: According to the Texas State School Board, the civil rights movement was…

a) Much ado about nothing

b) Effected by a benevolent white majority

c) Actually during the 1870s

d) All of the above

According to TPM and the Washington Monthly, the Texas state school board is working to correct a number of perceived innacuracies in a historical narrative that the board claims has been corrupted by liberals. The standards up for discussion include the usual points—safeguards against the outright teaching of evolution; an emphasis on America as a Christian nation—as well as a mandate that books must devote significant space to Phyllis Schlafly, Newt Gingrich, and the Moral Majority. You know, the Founders.

But those changes seem like small potatoes, though, once you see what the board thinks about the civil rights movement.

Barton and Peter Marshall initially tried to purge the standards of key figures of the civil rights era, such as César Chávez and Thurgood Marshall, though they were forced to back down amid a deafening public uproar. They have since resorted to a more subtle tack; while they concede that people like Martin Luther King Jr. deserve a place in history, they argue that they shouldn’t be given credit for advancing the rights of minorities. As Barton put it, “Only majorities can expand political rights in America’s constitutional society.”

Their solution has been to deemphasize the significance of the ’50s and ’60s, and instead highlight the (Republican) Reconstruction South as the pinnacle of the civil rights movement. Which makes a lot of sense, if you discard the fact that 1) during Reconstruction, roving bands of white-hooded militants roamed the countryside, and 2) The South descended into an Apartheid-like state for the next 80-odd years.

As Nikki Gloudeman points out, the battle for Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy has been long and arduous. The mistake would be to think it’s over.

Follow Tim Murphy on Twitter.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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