: News

History Textbook Contains Controversial Civil War Claims

Play associated audio

In Virginia, a new history textbook for fourth-graders claims thousands of African-Americans fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. It's a controversial notion that has irritated the school system--and the author.

The book is called Our Virginia, Past and Present. The disputed passage also claims two black battalions, who fought for the South, did so under the command of Stonewall Jackson. Most historical scholars say the account is a misrepresentation.

Charles Pyle, spokesperson for the Virginia Department of Education, admits the textbook was not properly vetted.

"...Occasionally, as with any process involving humans, there will be things that are overlooked, and unfortunately that's what has happened in this case," Pyle says.

Published reports claim the author of the textbook, Joy Masoff, sourced her work through a variety of sources but primarily through the Internet and a group called Sons of the Confederate Veterans.

Masoff says that's just not true.

"The source of this information was an American University professor: Dr. Edward Smith. There's a book called African Americans at War, an encyclopedia, it's written by Jonathan Sutherland," Masoff says. "That fact appears in it--This is a pretty well respected book and it was corroborated by something I read from Dr Smith."

Smith, the founder and co-director of American University’s Civil War Institute was unavailable for comment. Masoff says she's more than happy to omit the passage in future versions.

Meanwhile, officials at the Virginia Department of Education are in the process of notifying teachers and urging them not to teach the assertion to students.

WAMU 88.5

A Conversation With "Broad City" Co-Star Abbi Jacobson

What do Michelle Obama, Anna Wintour and Michael Jordan carry in their bags? Abbi Jacobson imagines the things you might find in her new illustrated book, "Carry This Book." We talk to the "Broad City" co-star about what you can learn from the contents of bags—and her success creating and starring in the hit Comedy Central show.

WAMU 88.5

New Approaches To Tackling Local Youth Hunger

The First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe and other regional leaders are exploring new, innovative ways to combat local food insecurity.

WAMU 88.5

What Washington Really Thinks of the Rest of America

Kojo explores the surprising findings of a Johns Hopkins survey on what D.C.'s federal workers and unelected policy makers really think of the American public.


Researchers Build 'Nightmare Machine'

An MIT project rolled out just in time for Halloween uses artificial intelligence to generate horror images.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.