We did it! One month ago, we wrote you, asking current AHA members to sign our resolution, “In Defense of the Right to Learn” [see below] We needed signatures from 227 people (2% of the membership) to get on the agenda for the Business Meeting at AHA’s Annual Meeting in San Francisco on January 6, 2024. The October 1 deadline was tight, but your response was overwhelming. We submitted 306 signatures, of which 244 were valid.
“In Defense of the Right to Learn” is part of the Historians-On-Call (HOC) campaign. What is HOC? Here’s an example: last month, we received a request from Johanna Folland, a recent University of Michigan PhD and Miami-Dade County public school history teacher in Florida. She asked for help in organizing an LGBTQ History Month after rightwing forces defeated that in a school board meeting. We were able to mobilize historians from around the country to assist her and her students.
Are you in solidarity with K-12 educators standing up for honest history? Join Historians-On-Call and get into the fight!
Van Gosse and Margaret Power, Co-Chairs
In Defense of the Right to Learn
[submitted to Business Meeting of the American Historical Association, January 6, 2024]
Whereas, Council’s Guiding Principles on Taking a Public Stance (2017) specify that “In a wide range of situations, whether involving the rights and careers of individual historians, historical practice in diverse venues, or the role of history in public culture, the AHA has the responsibility to take public stands.”
Whereas, Council further stipulated, as an example, “When public or private authorities…censor or seek to prevent the writing, publication, exhibition, teaching, or other practices of history or seek to punish historians…for conclusions they have reached and evidence they have unearthed as a result of legitimate historical inquiry,” mandating that “The AHA should defend historians, regardless of institutional affiliations or lack thereof, against efforts to limit their freedom of expression, or to punish them for ideas, grounded in legitimate historical inquiry, they have expressed or material they have uncovered.”
Whereas, numerous state legislatures and officials are censoring the teaching of history in public schools and universities;
Whereas, said legislation mandates the distortion of scholarship about such central topics as slavery, the dispossession of Indigenous peoples, and LGBTQ people;
Whereas, under pressure from partisan groups, school boards across the country are forcing teachers to censor their treatment of these issues in their classes and libraries are removing canonical books in literature and history from their shelves;
Whereas, teachers and librarians who resist these measures have faced personal attacks and threats;
Therefore, the Association calls on its members to:
· Support AHA actions to uphold accuracy in history teaching;
· Organize on your campus against the attacks on history and historians;
· Defend academic freedom and job security for history teachers at every level.
· Write editorials and letters-to-the-editor defending teachers, librarians, and school board members;
· Testify before legislative bodies and school boards about the right to learn.