african slaves
Models of slaves stand on display at the Smithsonian's American History Museum June 11, 2015 in Washington, DC. A major textbook manufacturer has apologized for downplaying the oppression against enslaved African in a world history book. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Hundreds of thousands of Africans were enslaved and forced to work without wages in the U.S. during the 18th and 19th centuries, according to Slave Voyages, a project of Emory University. By the 1860s, nearly 4 million of their black descendants -- 13 percent of the population -- toiled as forced laborers to boost the fortunes of their white masters. Textbook maker McGraw-Hill admitted last that it glossed over that history in its ninth grade edition of World Geography, following the concerns of a parent, Texas resident Roni Dean-Burren, according to The Root.

Dean-Burren called out the education company on YouTube for a caption that referred to enslaved Africans as “workers” and “migrants.” According to Dean-Burren, the textbook implied that Africans came to the U.S. willingly and were compensated for their work.

“This is revisionist history — retelling the story however the winners would like it told,” she told the Washington Post.

The Atlantic slave trade brought millions of workers...notice the nuanced language there. Workers implies...

Posted by Roni Dean-Burren on Wednesday, September 30, 2015

McGraw-Hill Education agreed that the textbook had fallen short, and promised to change the digital version as well as future editions.

“[We] conducted a close review of the content and agree that our language in that caption did not adequately convey that Africans were both forced into migration and to labor against their will as slaves,” the textbook maker wrote on its Facebook page.

This week, we became aware of a concern regarding a caption reference to slavery on a map in one of our world geography...

Posted by McGraw-Hill Education on Friday, October 2, 2015

Commenters on the McGraw-Hill post said that the correction didn’t go far enough.

“These books need to be recalled and replaced,” wrote a Facebook user under the name of Eliza Laura Thompson. “Simply updating it in the next edition is not enough. I am appalled at your lack of academic and professional rigor.”

Others complained about an additional factual error in the same caption, which was not slated to be corrected.

“[...] But they lied it was not millions it was about 400,000 between a 300-400 year period,” wrote a Facebook user under the name Michael Starr.

McGraw-Hill says that World Geography met or exceeded the educational requirements of Texas State Board of Education, a local panel whose curriculum standards are often adopted by textbook makers nationally.

That panel been criticized by progressives for controversial decisions on topics like climate change, the role of religion in American history and the history of oppression against minorities and other vulnerable groups. The board has rebuffed efforts to create standards for Mexican-American and other ethnic studies programs.

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