Bipeds of Brookland: Dr. James Loewen
Dr. James Loewen grew up in the Midwest. While studying at Carlton College in MN, he decided to investigate segregation in the rural south. “I spent part of my junior year abroad in Mississippi.” While at Mississippi State, he sat in classes for three days at the Tuskegee Institute.
“I think I was actually the first white student at Tuskegee.” He also visited Tugallou College, a historically black college where he later became a professor. Dr. Loewen later taught at the University of Vermont and left in 1996 to move to DC where he had previously lived while doing research at CUA Law School and the Smithsonian Museum of American History. His work at the Smithsonian led to the publication of the book, Lies My Teachers Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, in which he examines leading high school history textbooks and reveals the biased errors in their telling of history as well as important events and ideas that are omitted.
Dr. Loewen still writes books and conducts teacher workshops in school districts. He has been an expert witness in over 50 legal cases regarding civil rights and voting, and has research to show that “how you draw a district makes a difference.” He also wrote Lies Across America What our Historic Sites Get Wrong, and declares, “I’m utterly delighted with the progress being made [this year], that so many Confederate monuments are getting removed. Between 1890 and 1940, Confederate monuments changed: they had been mostly in cemeteries… then they got placed next to courthouses… to express who controlled the county. We need to stop normalizing the Confederacy.” Dr. Loewen explains the importance of his work, “I think there is a reciprocal relationship between truth about the past and justice in the present. I think when the country achieves justice in the present it then is able to better face what it did in the past.”
Bipeds of Brookland: A semi-weekly series introducing the people who make Brookland their home, one step at a time. Article and photo by Tom Sabella