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George Dawson was a lifelong Dallas resident, the grandson of a slave, and he didn’t learn to read until he was 98. Only a few years later, he would published his biography Life is So Good at more than a century old.
Carroll ISD, in Southlake, TX has a middle school named for him, but the district is now reviewing if his book is appropriate in its entirety for students at the school.
The district said in a statement the book has not been banned or challenged by a parent and stated some content was deemed inappropriate after a seventh grade teacher requested to teach it.
There is a middle school in Southlake named after George Dawson. The grandson of a slave, he learned to read at 98 and co-wrote a book about his life’s journey when he was 103 years old.
— Southlake Together (@Southlake4All) August 22, 2022
Much of Dawson’s surviving family still lives in North Texas. His great-grandson, Chris Irvin, wasn’t aware the district was reviewing the book.
“That’s hurtful,” he said. “You take away the bad and the ugly and you only talk about the good, that doesn’t add up.”
Irvin, who studied African American history in college, was also confused because he says he and his family have visited the school at least five separate times for a full cover-to-cover reading of the biography.
“Black history is American history. You can’t have one without the other,” he said. “I can’t go to your history and tell you, ‘hey x that out of your life, that didn’t happen.’”
District administration said in an email it couldn’t share what content was deemed inappropriate until the review was complete, but said an evaluation is ongoing with options from removing sections to notifying parents.
“My question then would be when are they ready?” Irvin said.
“It’s not surprising to me,” said Raven Rolle, a 2019 Carroll ISD grad and former Dawson Middle student. “It’s disappointing, but I’m not surprised.”
Last year, a district administrator was captured on a recording telling teachers to make sure to have books with opposing viewpoints of issues including the Holocaust and attempted to reprimand a teacher over a book titled “This Book is Anti-Racist.”
A YouTube video posted on the George Dawson Middle School website discusses Dawson’s life and shows students reading sections of the book aloud.
Rolle wishes the school and district spent more time sharing Dawson’s story when she was a student.
“Just personally because of my family and my friends and stuff, I knew who George Dawson was,” she said. “Let’s also talk about why he wasn’t able to learn to read until he was 98. A lot of it has to do with his identity as a Black man.”
Dawson was born in 1898 and died in Dallas in 2001 at the age of 103, just a year after he published his book.
From the state of Washington to Florida, Black books continue to disappear from curriculums across the country
According to the Tri-City Herald, the Kennewick School Board last week passed a new policy on what teachers can and cannot teach students about U.S. history. The policy says students cannot be “indoctrinated into the belief that the U.S. is fundamentally or systemically racist,” and that students must learn “factual U.S. history.”
Among the many disturbing bills introduced during the 2022 Florida Legislative Session was H.B. 7, the “Individual Freedom” bill, also known as the “Stop WOKE Act.” The sweeping law restricts conversations on “race, color, sex or national origin” in K-12 and at public universities, isolating nonwhite and LGBTQ+ youth in particular. The bill, signed into law on April 22, is also the first of its kind to limit race discussions among state employees under a critical race theory ban.
As the GOP continues to wage war against books that are largely not even being taught in public schools, it is the children who will suffer the consequences of their selective