For Immediate Release April 1, 2005
Mary E. McCrank
Media Relations Officer
HISTORIAN JAMES LOEWEN TO SPEAK AT SUNY GENESEO
GENESEO, N.Y. Historian James Loewen, author of the best-selling book "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong," will speak April 14 at the State University of New York at Geneseo.
Loewen will deliver his lecture, "Lies My Teacher Told Me," at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 14, in the MacVittie College Union Ballroom. The talk is free and open to the public. After the lecture, Loewen will sign copies of his book, which will be for sale. The talk is sponsored by Contemporary Forum, a division of Activities Commission.
Loewen wrote the book after spending two years at the Smithsonian Institution surveying a dozen leading high school textbooks of American history. He found an embarrassing blend of bland optimism, blind nationalism and plain misinformation weighing in at an average of 888 pages and almost five pounds. His book is, in part, a critique of those textbooks but also a retelling of American history. Loewens research seeks to correct interpretations of history that are inaccurate.
His book received several awards, including the 1996 American Book Award, the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship and the Before Columbus Foundation/American Book Award.
"Dr. Loewens research shows students that their education is truly a two-step process. After being taught the material, we as the students must decide for ourselves if there is truth behind that material. This concept engages us to learn to interact with the information we are given, rather than to just absorb it," said Geneseo junior Christy Panagakis of Syracuse, who serves as coordinator of Contemporary Forum and is a dual major in English and sociology.
In 1999, he published "Lies Across America: What Our Historic Markers and Monuments Get Wrong," which explores the mistakes touted on public monuments. He is conducting research for a forthcoming book on "Sundown Towns," all-white American communities that expelled blacks and other ethnic minorities during the early 20th century.
Loewen taught race relations for two decades at the University of Vermont. Previously, he taught at predominantly black Tougaloo College in Mississippi. His other books include the co-authored "Mississippi: Conflict and Change," which won the Lillian Smith Award for Best Southern Nonfiction but was rejected for public-school text use by the State of Mississippi, leading to the path-breaking First Amendment lawsuit, Loewen et al. v. Turnipseed, et al. He also wrote "The Mississippi Chinese: Between Black and White, Social Science in the Courtroom," and "The Truth About Columbus." He attended Carleton College and received his Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University.