By David J. Kent
Saturday, August 21, 2021
The Lincoln Group of DC is sad to report that one of our most distinguished members, James W. Loewen, passed away on August 19, 2021. Jim was well known for his phenomenal best-selling books, Lies My Teacher Told Me and Sundown Towns. He was 79.
An avid Lincoln Group member, Jim contributed both by his attendance at our monthly dinner meetings and his own presentations. He last spoke to our group in front of a packed audience in September 2019, where he focused on "How Our Public History Flattens Lincoln." He taught at Tougaloo College, an HBCU in Mississippi, before moving to the University of Vermont. His books and lectures were hugely influential. He was always a special presence and contributed much to the national debate of how we teach history.
Fighting medical battles with Stage IV muscle-invasive bladder cancer, at least one fracture in his back, and DVT in his legs, Jim powered through to write a final long email to friends and colleagues. In it he emphasized that his legacy would carry on. "At the same time, wonderful professional developments are taking place. I formed a batch of folks to maintain and enhance my website." That website, History and Social Justice, will now be run by Stephen Berrey, Prof. of History and American Studies at the University of Michigan, who had experience doing historical research in Mississippi, has done in-person research on sundown towns in Michigan, and has considered the impact of bad public history on race relations, North and South. Joining Berrey is Jim's son Nicholas, who has taught in public and private schools in the U.S. and abroad, and several other distinguished colleagues that will expand on Jim's goal of teaching the real American history, both good and bad, so that we all may learn from it.
Fuller obituaries celebrating his life can be found in the LA Times, the New York Times, and many other major newspapers. More information on the memorial service will be forthcoming. You can read more about James W. Loewen on his website.
The Lincoln Group of DC extends its condolences to Jim's wife Susan and the Loewen family.