Whitewashing History, Brainwashing Youth, Stifling Debate
Texas’s Indoctrination Project

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From a reader:

For millions of children in Texas, the school day begins with the recitation of these words: “Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible.”1

Texas’s history is one of slavery, genocide, theft, rape, and lynching; of Jim Crow, “No dogs or Mexicans allowed” signs, and openly celebrated white supremacy. Now several laws working their way through the legislative process in the state aim to take unquestioning acceptance of the supposed “greatness” of the U.S. and Texas even further, erase altogether or minimize any reference to its deeply racist history, and drill into the state’s five and a half million public school youth—73 percent of whom are people of color2—acceptance of and obedience to the status quo.

These proposed measures include such things as limiting or preventing teachers from explaining the way deeply engrained white supremacy has shaped the state’s laws; stripping “more than two dozen requirements to study the writings or stories of multiple women and people of color”; preventing teachers from teaching “a series of race-related concepts” as they relate to the state’s development, and others. The bills under consideration specifically prohibit teachers from using the “1619 Project” to discuss how slavery shaped U.S. history.3

What all this would mean explicitly was explained by a sponsor of one of the laws: “(this bill) is about teaching racial harmony by telling the truth that we are all equal, both in God’s eyes and our founding documents.... Do you want our Texas kids to be taught that the system of government in the United States and Texas is nothing but a cover-up for white supremacy? Do you want them to be taught a souped-up version of Marxism?”4

Fuck the Alamo

The Alamo, in downtown San Antonio, is Texas’s most famous landmark, and has long been a focal point of hot contention. For white supremacists, it is a symbol of Texas independence.

One bill sponsored by 10 fascist Republicans would bar historical markers at the Alamo from citing any reasons for Texas’s war against Mexico that weren’t mentioned in the Texas Declaration of Independence. As the president of the “This is Texas Freedom Force,” a fascist group that has held armed demonstrations against protesters at the Alamo bellowed, “If they want to bring up that it was about slavery, or say that the Alamo defenders were racist, or anything like that, they need to take their rear ends over the state border and get the hell out of Texas.”5

The exact final form the laws will take is not yet clear. But with a state government completely dominated by Christian fascists, the passage and signing of a law that will concentrate a major leap in legitimizing fascist, white supremacist indoctrination of youth, and declaring to the world Texas’s open defense of white supremacy, is all but certain.

The 1836 Project

One of the measures in the House version of the law calls for an “1836 project.” Its sponsor says this project would “promote patriotic education and increase awareness of the Texas values that continue to stimulate boundless prosperity across this state.”6 Leave aside, for now, the hypocritical, lying b.s. about “boundless prosperity” in a state infamous for its sprawling urban wastelands in every major city, and a border region that is one of the most impoverished areas of the country.

What is the “1836” project? 1836 is the year Texas seceded from Mexico and became an independent country. The great myth—the big lie—is that Texas was founded by “freedom loving frontiersmen.” The reality is that the white colonists who founded Texas, mainly from the Southern U.S. states, brought their slaves with them and established the vast area as a slave territory—despite the fact that Mexico had abolished slavery in 1829. This, along with the theft of that land from Mexico, and genocide of the Plains Indians who lived there, is what is celebrated in the Alamo.

When Texas seceded from the U.S. to join the slavery-defending Confederacy, it declared it was doing this as a “commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery—the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits—a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time.” (emphasis added).

These are precisely the “Texas values” today’s fascists uphold, and seek to impose and perpetuate “in all future time.”

“Texas Values”

Over the years, these values have embraced:

  • The lynching of Henry Smith, a Black man, in Paris, Texas in 1893, before a mob of thousands. Smith’s lynching ushered in an era of “spectacle lynchings ... that terrorized southern blacks for the next thirty years. “Spectacles”—meaning murders advertised in advance, attended by thousands, with souvenirs and postcards sent throughout the country.7 No one was arrested for Henry Smith’s murder.
  • La Matanza—“the massacre,” when “more than 5,000 Mexican Americans were murdered between 1910 and 1920. That wave of terror included numerous extra-judicial lynchings and murders of Mexican Americans by vigilantes, local law-enforcement officers, and Texas Rangers.”8
  • Waco, 1916: 17-year-old Jesse Washington, convicted in four minutes by an all-white jury for the rape and murder of a white woman, was stabbed, beaten, burned, and lynched in front of a mob estimated at 15,000-20,000. Photographs of the gruesome lynching were sold across the U.S., and advertised “Texas values” around the world.9
  • Houston, 1967—Students at Texas Southern University, an historically Black university, had launched a series of protests against environmental racism after the drowning death of a young boy in a nearby garbage dump. Following one of the protests, Houston police barricaded and shut down the campus. About 300 cops advanced on the men’s dormitory—they fired an estimated 5,000 rounds into the building, and arrested 488 residents.10 Several students, but no cops, were arrested.
  • Dallas, 1973—12-year-old Santos Rodriguez and his 13-year-old brother were picked up by Dallas police, who accused them of robbing eight dollars from a vending machine. One of the cops “played” Russian roulette with the boys, supposedly to extract a confession. On his second pull of the trigger, he blew out Santos Rodriguez’s brain. Days later, thousands of young people—Chicano, Black, and white—rebelled in downtown Dallas.11
  • June, 1998, Jasper. The lynching of James Byrd Jr., a 49-year-old Black man, shocked the world. Byrd was brutally beaten by three white men in the small East Texas town of Jasper, his face was covered with paint, and he was possibly slashed with a knife. His killers then used chains to tie him by his ankles to the back of their pickup truck, and drove through dirt trails and the backwoods around Jasper in the dark of night, until James Byrd Jr. was dead and his body torn to pieces. The killers then dumped his body in Jasper’s segregated Black cemetery and went to a barbecue. Two of the murderers were known white supremacists.12
  • 1982-2021—The lynch mobs of Texas’s early days are replaced by decades of massive incarceration, disproportionately of Black and Latino men; brutalizing, murdering police; racist prosecutors and judges; and the death chamber. Since use of the death penalty was re-instituted in 1982, Texas has executed 571 people, about one-third of the national total.13

Institutionalizing White Supremacist Instruction

These and countless other similar incidents are little known today—and are the kind of thing the law taking shape will banish forever from the Texas curriculum. Even more, these laws are designed to prevent young people from digging into why such abominations happen over, and over, and over again, and to instill blind acceptance of the status quo and obedience to authority.

Laws like this are shaping up most prominently in Texas, but also in many other states under Republi-fascist control. They would mark a major leap in institutionalizing the development of a fascist, openly white supremacist core of indoctrination for millions of children and youth.


1. Pledge of Allegiance to Texas State Flag [back]

2. State of Texas Demographics, Students, The Texas Tribune [back]

3. The 1619 Project is a series of articles by the New York Times to explore and dig into the multi-faceted history of Black people in this country, including their oppression and their resistance to that oppression, and how deeply it has been a part of the country’s history, culture, and institutions since the arrival of the first African slaves on the shores of what is now the U.S. in 1619. Material from the project has since been used in the curriculum of schools across the U.S. This article in Revolution began an examination of that series and its significance. [back]

4. Texas public schools couldn’t require critical race theory under bill given House approval, The Texas Tribune [back]

5. Alamo renovation gets stuck over arguments about slavery, The Texas Tribune [back]

6. The 1836 Project is the wrong past for our future, Houston Chronicle [back]

7. Paris is Burning: Lynching and Racial Violence in Lamar County, 1890 – 1920, East Texas Historical Journal [back]

8. William D. Carrigan and Clive Webb, Forgotten Dead: Mob Violence against Mexicans in the United States, 1848-1928 [back]

9. Jesse Washington Lynching, Waco History [back]

10. Houston (TSU) Riot (1967), BlackPast [back]

11. July 24, 1973: 12-Year-Old Santos Rodriguez Killed By Police, The Zinn Education Project [back]

12. Murder of James Byrd, Jr., Encyclopedia Britannica [back]

13. Death Row Information, Texas Department of Criminal Justice [back]

Henry Smith, Paris, Texas, 1893.

James Byrd, Jr., Jasper, Texas, 1998.



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