Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Bob Woodson founder of The Woodson Center.
During the third hour, Woodson explained the center’s mission with the curriculum found at 1776unites.com explaining the potential to bridge the gap between Whites and Blacks education levels. He also highlighted the importance of making students’ education the priority and not the rights and privileges of the teachers.
Leahy: On the newsmaker line Bob Woodson founder and CEO of The Woodson Center. A civil rights activist and icon in that arena. Bob, Thanks for joining us this morning.
Woodson: Pleased to be here, especially with Carol.
Swain: Good morning Bob.
Woodson: It’s always great to hear your voice.
Swain: Same here.
Leahy: I bet we surprised you with Carol?
Woodson: Well I said Oh, wow. Yes. For many many years.
Leahy: Carol is our all-star panelist and she’s on the program every Thursday for well over a year and a half. Carol and I have been friends for a long long time. And she speaks so highly of you Bob. And of course, you and I have talked a couple of times. Tell us a little bit about some of the projects you’re working on in particular. I know you and I talked about your efforts to get a real American curriculum and an understanding of civics and government into public schools. What’s happening with those projects?
Woodson: Well, we’re you know, we started it. In fact, this is our one year anniversary in February in response to 1619 that corrupt version of history that was generated by Nicole Hanna Jones who is a columnist writer with The New York Times. She and other journalists authored that 1619 that defined America by its birth defect of slavery.
And as a consequence, they concluded that America is forever flawed and should be defined by slavery and whatnot. And so we decided that since they were using the Blacks as messengers it was important to counter that with a Black lead effort. And so we started 1776. It’s the real birthday of the country.
And we weren’t interested in engaging just in the debate, but we were also interested in offering an alternative inspirational narrative that documents the fact that America should be defined by its promise and not by his birth defect of slavery. And we give evidence that blacks in the face of oppression prospered and built great institutions. Only in America could someone be born a slave and die a millionaire as we have documented in our writings.
Leahy: So what kind of response have you gotten from the mainstream media and public schools with that message in that curriculum?
Woodson: The mainstream media has ignored us but the education community when we released the first three lessons of our curriculum, we had over 7,000 downloads thus far. We were shocked. In the first three days, we had 4,000 compared to 4,500 downloads from 1619 in the course of a year. We’ve been hearing from school boards and civic institutions and educators all over. I think they’re thirsting for some alternative to 1619’s corrupt interpretation of history. So we’re very pleased with the response that we’re getting. And we’re releasing more curriculum every month.
Leahy: Now if a teacher is listing or a parent is listening right now, where do they go to download this important curriculum?
Woodson: You can go on 1776unites.com and you’ll be able to identify it there.
Leahy: 1776unites.com. 1776 that’s another very important project that Carol was involved in. Bob, I’m sure you know about the 1776 Commission that Carol was vice-chairman of and one of President Biden’s first acts was to dissolve that commission. Carol, bring us up to speed on what’s going on with that dissolved commission and how it relates to Bob Woodson’s Project 1776 Unites.
Swain: Well, Bob knows intimately about the 1776 Commission because I sought his advice before I accepted the vice chairmanship. The commission even though it’s not under the auspices of the U.S. government it still exists in that we’re working together. And we have submitted our report with a new introduction for publication. So we expect to have a book out in a few months.
Leahy: So that will be an important element in this. Bob, I just went to 1776unites.com and I think it’s easy to do just go sign up and you can download these lessons. I think that’s spectacular and will we will be promoting this throughout the state of Tennessee.
Woodson: Well, that’s good. I don’t think there can be enough content in terms of meeting the need. I just think that Carol is talking about certainly compliments what we’re doing. And we’re looking for new areas of study to be released. We’ll be releasing some content dealing with K-12. And we’re even in helping some corporations who are struggling with demands to do race grievance training I call it. (Chuckles)
Swain: That’s like what I’m doing with my Unity Training Solutions.
Woodson: Carol is my resident expert on that.
Leahy: By the way Bob, we’re going to invite you now. Carol stopped by last year when we did it. We do an annual constitution bee here in Brentwood, Tennessee. We give scholarships to kids at and ask them questions about the Constitution this past year. Alan Dershowitz was a special guest who did a presentation and you are I’m going to invite you in person to come here next October when we have our National Constitution Bee and if you can’t make it in person will do Zoom with you. If you’ve got time in your schedule.
Woodson: I will always come to Tennessee. As long as Carol is going to be there I’ll be there.
Swain: Thank you. And as far as the 1776 Commission, it will be looking for a home and it has not landed anywhere yet. And 1776 Unites would be one of my choices. Probably my top choice.
Leahy: I’m looking Bob at that some of your curricula and I see here that it really looks good. You got a lesson on Alice Coachman from 1923 to 2014. She was in the 1948 London Olympics. You’ve got a lesson on building character. You’ve got a lesson on Benjamin Banneker who was an inventor and a surveyor. Of course my favorite, Booker T. Washington and the Rosenwald Schools from 1912 to 1932. Tell us a little bit about that lesson with Booker T. Washington and the Rosenwald Schools.
Woodson: Well some of the myths that you hear today from some people only emphasize the oppression of Blacks. Between 1920 and 1940 the education gap between Blacks and Whites in the south was three years. It was the eighth grade for Whites and the fifth grade for Blacks. And in less than 20 years that gap closed within six months.
And that is because Booker T. Washington partnered with Julius Rosenwald the CEO of Sears and he contributed 4.2 million dollars for the construction of five thousand Rosenwald Booker T. schools. That amount was matched locally by Blacks who raised money and they contributed the other half. and as a consequence, these were of these Rosenwald Schools were operating with used textbooks crowded classrooms.
Yet within 20 years as a result of the Rosenwald School we were able to close the education gap within six months in the South. and the question is if we were able to close the education gap in the south during segregation why can’t we close the education gap today when Black elected officials have been running these school systems for the past 50 years?
Leahy: That’s a great question. What is your answer Bob Woodson to that question?
Woodson: It’s because we have permitted education to be taken over by educators that are more concerned about the rights of teachers than they are the content. That is why. Even today you have examples of how when parents have control over the schools and can make choices that these kids who are in these communities can perform. We have examples of charter schools that have been created like Piney Woods School.
It’s the school that we support. A 110-year-old boarding school in Mississippi that only takes kids from deprived communities and yet 96 percent of these kids go on to college. So it shows you when you create the right kind of environment that is conducive to learning where the emphasis isn’t on the rights and privileges and of the teachers, but when the focus is on improving the education of the children, that’s when these children can prosper today the way they did back in the 20s and the 30s.
Listen to the third hour here:
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