James Loewen, Author Of 'Lies My Teacher Told Me,' Dies At 79 The sociologist and anti-racist activist died on Thursday. His work focused on dispelling myths about racial progress in American history and using education as a tool to further racial justice.

James Loewen, Author Of 'Lies My Teacher Told Me,' Dies At 79

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

We want to take a moment to remember someone who challenged traditional ideas about American history and especially race. From Reconstruction to the Iraq War, sociologist James Loewen offered his own version of how history should be taught in his many books, including his bestseller "Lies My Teacher Told Me." Loewen died last week.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Loewen was a teacher. His son Nicholas remembers him as his first and best one.

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NICHOLAS LOEWEN: He taught me a lot in a lot of different ways and in a lot of different subjects. And he was definitely, you know, a very loving and kind father, too.

CORNISH: Loewen began his formal teaching career at Tougaloo College in Mississippi, a historic Black college. The idea for one of his early books came after he asked his class what they knew about Reconstruction. Here's how he described it to NPR a few years ago.

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JAMES LOEWEN: Sixteen out of my 17 students said, well, Reconstruction was the period right after the Civil War when Blacks took over the government of the Southern states. But they were too soon out of slavery, and so they screwed up. And white folks had to take control again. I mean, there's at least three direct lies in that sentence.

KELLY: The book "Mississippi: Conflict And Change" examined how white supremacy and Black struggle shaped the state's history. It was one of Loewen's several books that confronts dark truths about race. Loewen's son Nicholas says that after his dad's diagnosis with bladder cancer two years ago, he worked nonstop with his colleagues to make sure his research would carry on after his death.

CORNISH: Nicholas remembers a quote that his father often repeated that defined his father's values.

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N LOEWEN: Telling the truth about the past helps cause justice in the present. Achieving justice in the present helps us tell the truth about the past.

CORNISH: James Loewen was 79 years old.

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