Black Experience

Publisher Apologizes for Textbook Reference to Slavery, Promises to Revise

Textbook publisher McGraw-Hill has apologized and agreed to revise a reference to slavery after a Houston-area mom expressed shock that her son’s book called African slaves “workers.”

Roni Dean-Burren of Pearland, Texas, brought the issue to light last week when she posted to Facebook a photo sent to her by her 9th-grade son of his geography book that had been created for Texas’s new state standards adopted in 2010.

The boy took a photo of a map’s caption in a chapter titled “Patterns of Immigration,” which read:

“The Atlantic Slave Trade between the 1500s and the 1800s brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.”

Upon further examination of the book, Dean-Burren discovered that although European indentured servants are described as working for “little or no pay,” there was no further mention of black slaves — whose presence in the book was only portrayed as part of “immigration.”

After her Facebook post garner more than a million views, McGraw-Hill said in a subsequent Facebook post that it would update the text in the online version immediately and in the book’s next printing.

“We believe we can do better,” it said in the Friday post.

Dean-Burren told CNN Monday that while she’s thrilled McGraw-Hill has promised revisions and apologized publicly, changing a single caption won’t compensate for what some educational experts have described as “a wave of ideologically-fueled school standards that downplay the role of race and slavery in shaping America today.”

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