In the video, Texas mom Roni Dean-Burren calls out the textbook, “World Geography.”
Dean-Burren pointed viewers to a section called “Patterns of Immigration.” Reading from the book, she notes the inclusion of slaves as immigrants.
“‘Immigrants,’ yeah, that word matters,” Dean-Burren said, “(Reading from the text) ‘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. So (slavery) is now considered ‘immigration’.”
She adds, in an adjacent section on European immigrants, that many came as “indentured servants to work for little or no pay.”
Dean-Burren’s post gathered a lot of attention; a subsequent video sparked spirited feedback and had drawn 1.4 million page views on Facebook as of Sunday.
McGraw-Hill heard the outcry, reviewed the section and concluded that the wording doesn’t live up to the publisher’s standards.
“We believe we can do better,” McGraw-Hill posted on its Facebook page Friday. “To communicate these facts more clearly, we will update this caption to describe the arrival of African slaves in the U.S. as a forced migration and emphasize that their work was done as slave labor.”
The edits will appear in the online version of the book immediately and will be included in the book’s next printing.
“This is change people!!! This is why your voices matter!!!” Dean-Burren posted on Facebook.
Still, some believe the changes aren’t enough and are asking the publisher to recall existing versions of the book and replace copies for schools that can’t afford to buy new books.
“Thanks for the gesture, but that doesn’t help the school districts that can’t afford to purchase new textbooks!” reads one comment on McGraw-Hill’s Facebook post. “Kids will continue to read the same incorrect & inconsiderate information for probably the next 5-10 years! There must be a better way!”
Others say the publisher’s revised language still plays down the horrors of slavery.
“Forced migration? I believe the words you’re looking for are kidnapped and stolen,” wrote a commenter.