The Texas Historical Commission has removed around two dozen race-related books from the gift shops of two former slave plantations because one person complained, according to Texas Monthly.
The magazine reported this week that Michelle Haas, a white amateur historian, began emailing a commission board member after visiting the Varner-Hogg plantation last year.
Titles reportedly removed included: “Remembering the Days of Sorrow,” a book of slave narratives; “Invisible Man,” the Ralph Ellison novel on the Black experience; “Stamped from the Beginning,” a history of racist ideas by Ibram X. Kendi; and “Roots,” the Alex Haley novel famously adapted for television in the 1970s.
The Texas Historical Commission is a state agency overseeing the preservation of certain historical sites across the state. As such, they were required to respond to an open records request from the Texas Monthly asking for emails relating to the gift shop situation.
The magazine reported that Haas thought the Varner-Hogg plantation presented too much information about the enslaved Black people who worked the sugarcane fields and not enough about the white people who lived in the main house. She later reportedly emailed David Gravelle, a commission’s board member, a list of titles she did not like that were available at another nearby historical site, the Levi Jordan plantation.
Haas is the author of a book of her own, titled “200 Years a Fraud,” which takes the text of the “12 Years a Slave” memoir and points out what she considers historical inaccuracies in the primary author’s account of his own life.
Gravelle reportedly took up Haas’ complaints with the board, claiming he feared the Republican-controlled state legislature would be upset if lawmakers found out about the titles on offer.
A spokesperson for the commission pinned the change on a general reduction of inventory.
For more, head to Texas Monthly.