Authors say Texas State Museum canceled event dedicated to book examining role of slavery in Battle of Alamo
AUSTIN, Texas – A promotional event for a book examining the role of slavery before the Battle of Alamo that was scheduled at the Bullock Texas State History Museum on Thursday night was abruptly canceled three and a half hours before the scheduled start.
The authors of the book, titled “Forget the Alamo,” and publisher, Penguin Random House, say the cancellation of the 300 RSVP event amounts to censorship by Republican elected officials and overreaction to review of book on racism in Texas. the story.
“The Bullock was receiving increased pressure on social media to host the event, as well as on the museum’s board of trustees (Gov Abbott being one of them) and decided to step down as co- host all together, ”said Penguin Random House. in a report.
Governor Greg Abbott and the museum did not respond to requests for comment from the Tribune. But Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick confirmed he had requested the event be canceled. Abbott, Patrick, and other GOP leaders serve on the board of directors of the State Preservation Board, which oversees the Bullock Museum.
“As a member of the Preservation Council, I asked the staff to cancel this event as soon as I found out,” he wrote on Twitter. “This rewrite of TX history has no place @BullockMuseum.”
Chris Tomlinson, one of the book’s three authors, responded on Twitter.
“Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick takes credit for oppressing free speech and controlling thought in Texas,” he wrote. “@BullockMuseum proves this is a propaganda outlet. As for his blunt comment, well, a dozen people disagree with professional historians.”
The cancellation comes amid a statewide and nationwide firestorm surrounding ‘critical race theory’ and how citizens should understand, teach and learn about racism. shaped American history. Abbott and other GOP state officials have opposed the focus on the role of race in schools.
At stake is the book’s challenge of traditional historical principles surrounding the battle for independence of Alamo, Texas from Mexico and its origins related to the preservation of slavery.
“Just as the Alamo site has been left in ruins for decades, its history has been forgotten and distorted over time, with contributions from Tejanos – Texans of Mexican descent, who fought alongside the rebels. Anglo – erased from the record and from the conflict over Mexico’s push to end covert slavery, ”reads a description of the book by its publisher. “As uncomfortable as it may be to hear for some, celebrating the Alamo has long echoed the celebration of whiteness.”
The book, written by Bryan Burrough, Jason Stanford and Tomlinson, also raises questions about the wisdom of Texans’ military strategy continuing with the siege of early 1836, and the track record of Alamo’s rulers – James Bowie and William B Travis – while examining the building’s place in post-independence Texas politics and history.
“If the state history museum isn’t the right place to talk about state history, then I don’t know what to do,” Stanford said in an interview.
The book received overwhelmingly positive reviews, including from the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, with a consensus that it is based on widely accepted academic research.
Last month, lawmakers passed a bill that restricts how teachers can discuss current events in the classroom and limits how they can discuss the role of race in America’s history and present. .
Abbott later said that more needed to be “done” to “abolish critical race theory in Texas,” and said he would ask the legislature to look into the matter further in the special legislative session that begins on March. July 8.
Lawmakers also created the 1836 Bill, establishing an advisory committee to promote “patriotic education” to residents of the state. Lawmakers have positioned the project in opposition to efforts like The New York Times’ Project 1619, which examines the role of slavery in U.S. history, and instead promised to assert the exceptionalism of the State.
Stanford called the cancellation “the first test case of the 1836 project” and what the state means by “a patriotic education.”
“They insist so vehemently on a version of the past that never existed,” he said.
He said conservative critics of the book accused him of “unfairly trying to put slavery at the center of everything” when the goal is to acknowledge the truth about what happened in the past, including slavery, the cause that “no one ever wants to talk about.”
“There is no reason the Conservatives cannot embrace the past with open arms and say, this is where we started, this is where we are going,” he said. “There is no reason they cannot tell the story of Texas as a story of redemption, and that we are still an increasingly perfect imperfect union.”
Former Lands Commissioner Jerry Patterson said he had doubts about several of the authors’ claims. The Texas General Land Office, which he once headed, has jurisdiction over the Alamo site in San Antonio.
But instead of supporting the event’s cancellation, Patterson said he looks forward to the writers facing tough questions about their sourcing and accuracy.
“It would have been better if they were asked specific, tough questions and forced to answer them. And in that case, they should have been allowed to be at the Bullock,” said Patterson.
Disclosure: Bullock Texas State History Museum, State Preservation Board, and The New York Times financially supported The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, non-partisan news organization funded in part by donations from members, foundations, and corporate sponsors. Financial support plays no role in the journalism of the Tribune. Find a full list of them here.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texatribune.org/2021/07/01/texas-forget-the-alamo-book-event-canceled/. The Texas Tribune is a non-partisan, member-backed newsroom that educates and engages Texans about state politics and politics. Learn more at texatribune.org.