James W.


Civil Rights Movement
First Year Read Programs
Programs for High School Students
Racism/Racial Justice
U.S. History
White Privilege

James W. Loewen is an acclaimed historian and best-selling author whose mission is to overturn myths and misinformation that too often pass for U.S. history.

A highly sought-after speaker and author, he engages audiences with intelligence and humor, honing in on a range of topics encompassing U.S. history, multicultural education, civil rights, race relations, voting rights, law and social science.

His gripping retelling of U.S. history, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong (1995) was the result of two years research, comparing twelve U.S. history textbooks widely used throughout the country. Lies My Teacher Told Me is, in part, a telling critique of existing books but more importantly, a wonderful retelling of U.S history as it should - and could - be taught to students. The book has sold some one million copies and was the winner of the 1996 American Book Award and the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship.

Loewen’s latest book is The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader: The "Great Truths" about the "Lost Cause" (with Edward Sebesta) that examines the original reasoning behind secession and subsequent myth-making was in defense of slavery and white supremacy.

Loewen's Teaching What Really Happened offers teachers specific ideas for how to get students excited about history, how to get them to DO history and how to help them read critically.  It also helps teachers tackle difficult but important topics like the American Indian experience, slavery, and race relations.

Loewen is also author of The Mississippi Chinese: Between Black and White (1988), Lies My Teacher Told Me About Christopher Columbus (1992), Lies Across America: What Our Historic Markers and Monuments Get Wrong (2000) and Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism (2005) which was named “Distinguished Book of 2005” by the Gustavus Myers Foundation. The acclaimed book tells how thousands of communities in the United States excluded African, Chinese, Jewish, or Native Americans between 1890 and 1970s, and how some still do.

His other books include Mississippi: Conflict and Change (1974, co- authored), which won the Lillian Smith Award for Best Southern Nonfiction but was rejected for public school text use by the State of Mississippi, leading to the path-breaking First Amendment lawsuit, Loewen et al. v. Turnipseed, et al. The American Library Association considers this historic First Amendment Case as one of the foundations of our “right to read freely.”

An educator who attended Carleton College, Loewen holds a Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University, and taught race relations for twenty years at the University of Vermont. Prior to that, he taught at Mississippi’s Tougaloo College, a historically Black College. He now lives in Washington, D.C., continuing his research on how Americans remember their past. He is also a regular contributor to the History Channel's History magazine.

Loewen has been an expert witness in more than 50 civil rights, voting rights, and employment cases. His awards include the First Annual Spivack Award of the American Sociological Association for “sociological research applied to the field of intergroup relations,” the American Book Award (for Lies My Teacher Told Me), and the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship. He is also Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians.


"Your talk was informative, compelling, accessible, entertaining, scholarly..."

— Lori Dance, Professor of Sociology, University of Maryland

"Your lecture was not only eye-opening, but entertaining as well. I greatly appreciated your talent for captivating and educating an audience at the same time."

— Amy Myers, Lectures and Forums Coordinator, South Dakota State University

"You have a remarkable ability to discuss issues of race and class in a way that brings people together and opens a dialogue rather than opening old wounds."

— Brad Bates, St. Andrews School, Middletown, DE

"Your talk was exactly what I hoped it would be - intellectually challenging and stimulating. You presented your points in an engaging and humorous manner which was well received by our faculty and staff."

— Keith McFarland, President, Texas A & M University, Commerce TX

Jim was an absolute gem. He exceeded everyone's expectations and I have only heard positive feedback from participants. It was great to get to know him and spend time with him. He is someone we would love to bring back to the campus in the future for sure!
— Teressa Martinez, Diversity & Inclusive Programs Coordinator, Weber State University

Lecture topics include:
• How History Keeps Us Racist, and What to Do About It
• Sundown Towns: What they are, Where they are, and Why they matter
• Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong about Labor History and Social Class
• What History Books Don't Tell about Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and John Brown, and Why It Matters
• How American History in School and on the Landscape Demeans Native Americans
• Lies My Teacher Told Me Me About the Civil War
• Eurocentrism, Afrocentrism, and Multiculturalism

Doing History in the Age of Trump