by Al Benson Jr.
Some of what happened in West Virginia in 1974 (taken from my own notes made in early 1975)
In May, 1974, Mrs. Alice Moore, a member of the School Board, brought to the attention of the Kanawha County Board of Education and to the attention of Kanawha County parents, the content of the anti-Christian and anti-American textbooks that were about to be adopted for use in Kanawha County government (public) schools. As bad as some of the content of these books was they were adopted for use in Kanawha County schools on June 27, 1974 by the school board on a 3-2 vote. This was done in spite of the presence of over 1200 protesters who crowded the Board of Education offices and also stood out in the pouring rain asking that these books not be adopted. The adoption was done in spite of 12,000 signatures on a petition asking that these books not be adopted for use in schools by the Board. In the face of all this protest, on the recommendation of several English teachers, the books were accepted.
So much for the myth of parental input in government schools--and it is a myth.
During the month of June, 1974, a group called Christian American Parents was formed to try to combat the textbooks and their influence. In July, a department store, Hecks Inc. was picketed by parents. The man who was president of the store was on the school board and had voted to adopt the rotten textbooks. This was one method the parents had to legitimately protest his actions.
In August of 1974 a group led by Rev. Darrell Beech went to see the Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Kenneth Underwood, to ask him if he would remove the books. Mr. Underwood claimed his hands were tied--the books were legally adopted. Mr. Underwood claimed he could do nothing about the situation (did he even really want to?). The frustrated parents claimed they could do something. They could boycott the schools!
You have to realize that, at this point, the protesters had tried to do everything legally and properly and none of those in authority in any capacity were willing to help them.
It is interesting to note that Mr. Underwood, during an interview granted to the "Charleston Daily Mail" said, in regard to the books: "As a total literature program, I think it's great. There are some expressions I don't like, but I don't know if it's because they are filthy." While Underwood claimed he didn't really know if it was right to shove the books down the kids' throats against the parents' wishes, he balanced that thought off with one that contradicted it. He said "But, again, there is no way I can see these books have to be thrown out." That interview was published in the "Charleston Daily Mail" for October 12, 1974. In August Underwood's hands had been tied. He couldn't get the books out; they were legally adopted. However, by October, Underwood thinks the books as a "total literature program" are "just great." Either Mr. Underwood's thinking underwent a remarkable evolution from August to October, or, from his comments it appears he would not have tried to get rid of the books if he could have.
In August, 1974, another group, the Concerned Citizens of Kanawha County was formed. Also that August an anti-textbook group demonstrated at the governor's mansion. The governor was conveniently "out of town." Had the protesters been some sort of radical left-wing group he would almost certainly been on hand to welcome them with open political arms. Politicians are always on hand to toss out the welcome mat to the left-wingers, but for Christians and patriots they are almost always "out of town." The following week more protesters visited the governor's mansion. The honorable Governor still seemed to be "out of town." I suspect, had protesters visited the governor's mansion every day for the next year they would have been informed that he was on a year's sabbatical to Pago Pago.
The Tuesday before school started in 1974 there was an anti-textbook rally in St. Albans, West Virginia with about 400 present. These folks met and voted to boycott government schools until the rotten textbooks were out. It was now getting to the point where the local media had to say something and the local papers came out with the story (no doubt hoping to keep it local). However, a mass protest was planned at the Civil Center in Charleston, and on Thursday several thousand parents turned out, carrying signs and passing out printed excerpts from the questionable textbooks. That gave folks a real chance to see some of what was in the books. They didn't like it.
That Saturday about 7,000 protesters met at Point Lick Community Park. State police had to turn people away for lack of room and traffic was backed up for two miles! All this the very last week before school started! A few dedicated Christian patriots had worked away all summer to get the word out about what was really in Mr. Underwood's "great" literature program and their efforts bore fruit. From a handful they went to thousands in a few weeks and they did something in Kanawha County, West Virginia that ought to be done in every county and parish in the United States! Despite the rotten media coverage they got (and still get today in retrospect) the parents of Kanawha County succeeded in focusing national attention on a public school system such as no one else has been able to do, before or since.
What they did not realize at the time was that their own government, at all levels, would turn out to be their chief antagonist. The public school system was part and parcel of a grand design to undermine and destroy their faith and culture by brainwashing their children. That program continues to this day.