Teaching History with Integrity

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, 1963, in Washington, D.C. Photo by Warren K. Leffler, courtesy of the Library of Congress. A large crowd of people in front of the reflecting pool and the Washington Monument.

The freedom to learn our nation’s history is under siege. In many states, legislators have introduced “divisive concepts” bills that seek to limit history education in ways that would make it virtually impossible for teachers to help students to thoughtfully consider slavery and racism in American historical development. Some of these proposals have already become law. While most of this legislation is aimed at public primary and secondary education, many also specifically include or have implications for public higher education.

The AHA, its members, and other historians find ourselves on the front lines of a conflict over America's past, up against opponents who are actively promoting ignorance in the name of unity. The AHA is leading or involved with several initiatives to combat these bills and provides resources and support for educators advocating for teaching history. More information about additional AHA initiatives and resources will be coming soon.

Freedom to Learn

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, 1963, in Washington, D.C. Photo by Warren K. Leffler, courtesy of the Library of Congress. A group of African-Americans carry protest signs in support of civil rights.

The AHA’s Freedom to Learn initiative is a response to recent legislation, introduced in more than half of all US states and enacted in nearly a dozen, seeking to limit teaching the history of racism and slavery. Drawing on the AHA’s legitimacy as the largest organization of professional historians in the world and the expertise of our members, the Freedom to Learn initiative educates historians and others on how to advocate publicly for honest history education, responds directly to the bills themselves, and creates resources to help teachers directly affected by these bills think about how to maintain the integrity of their history courses.

Freedom to Learn

Flashpoints: Free Speech in American History, Culture, and Society

Flashpoints

PEN America and the AHA have developed the Flashpoints event series to present the history of free speech in American democracy to public audiences around the United States. Our goal is to widen recognition of the evolution of the First Amendment in ensuring free speech protections for all Americans and the essential role those protections play in a democratic society. Visit PEN America’s website at the link below to learn more about upcoming events in the series.

Flashpoints Series

Learn from History

Learn from History logo

The AHA is an inaugural partner of Learn from History, a coalition of 40 organizations that oppose efforts to limit the ability of educators to maintain the scholarly integrity of courses in US history. Among other resources, Learn from History offers toolkits for school system leaders, parents, teachers, and school board members. 

Learn from History

AHA in the News

A newspaper mid-print in large industrial printer. Photo by Bank Phrom via Unsplash.

AHA staff and Council members have written articles and made public appearances highlighting the challenges teachers and educators face from legislation restricting the teaching of “divisive concepts.”

AHA in the News

Joint Statement on Legislative Efforts to Restrict Education about Racism in American History

Colored pencils in a row. Photo by Kelli Tungay via Unsplash.

In June 2021, the American Association of University Professors, the American Historical Association, the Association of American Colleges & Universities, and PEN America authored a joint statement stating their “firm opposition” to legislation, introduced in at least 20 states, that would restrict the discussion of “divisive concepts” in public education institutions. 

Joint Statement on Legislative Efforts to Restrict Education about Racism in American History