Whitewashed: A Look into the Evolution of Race Conversations in American Classrooms

Lily Michal Walters

Name: Lily Michal Walters
Majors: History, Education
Advisor: Dr. Jordan Biro-Walters
Following the events of this past summer, I felt an urge to analyze the kinds of conversations Americans have about race or absence of. My project seeks to follow the evolution of race conversations in the classroom through generations of people after the Civil War. My thesis is that curriculum excluded positive mentions of Black people after the Civil War until the Civil Rights Movement, when Black individuals crafted a more accurate and impartial curriculum. American curriculum’s exclusion of positive Black representation left white people unable to have positive race conversations in general. Additionally, through a case study of my family, I examine how generations of people shaped their ideas on race through conversations. The written portion of my IS begins with curriculum from the end of the Civil War, through the Jim Crow Era, and ends in Civil Rights Movement. I follow the turbulent history of the education of Black folks in America through industrial schools after the Civil War, to submissive education in the Jim Crow Era, through Freedom Schools in the Civil Rights Era. Additionally, I trace the consistent white supremacist-based education of white people until the end of the Civil Rights Era, when there was a slight shift in positive Black representation in curriculum.From there, I continue with my investigation of generational change in race conversations in my podcast Whitewashed. Here, I analyze my four-times great uncle’s memoir about being a confederate prisoner of war in the Civil War, I interview my great grandmother, grandfather, and mother to examine their experience with race conversations and education or lack thereof.

Lily will be online to field comments on April 16:
10am-noon EDT (Asia: late evening, PST: 6-8am, Africa/Europe: early evening)

Posted in I.S. Symposium 2021, Independent Study on April 10, 2021.

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Related Areas of Study


Critically examine events and societies of the past and learn to tell the stories future generations need to know

Major Minor


Graduate as a licensed teacher in pre-K-12 in fields ranging from science to music education

Major Minor Teaching Licensure

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