“The Great Textbook War,” an audio documentary listening session and panel discussion, will be presented Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at the Columbia University School of Journalism.
The program, which kicks off with an exhibit and reception at 5:45 p.m., will showcase the work of Trey Kay, a West Virginia Public Broadcasting and NPR radio reporter whose documentary earned three prestigious broadcasting awards: the George Fos…ter Peabody Award, a regional and national Edward R. Murrow Award and an Alfred I. duPont/Columbia University Silver Baton. Kay is currently a Columbia Journalism 2011 Spencer Fellow on Education Reporting
The event, which is open to the public, is being co-sponsored by the duPont Awards and the Spencer Fellowship Program.
Peabody judges cited The Great Textbook War as a “thoughtful, balanced and gripping radio documentary that shows how a 1974 battle over textbook content in rural West Virginia foreshadows the ‘culture wars’ still raging.” Columbia’s duPont jury said that Kay’s work foreshadowed “today’s populist revolt and polarizing political debate.”
A reception will open the program at 5:45 p.m. and includes a traveling historical exhibit, Books and Beliefs: The Kanawha County Textbook War, based on material unearthed in the research for the radio documentary. The exhibit consists of four large panels accompanied by a repeating 22-minute sound and video presentation. The project can be heard at West Virginia Public Radio at http://www.wvpubcast.org/newsarticle.aspx?id=11860
Reservations should be made by Nov. 7 with Kathy Brow at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 59-minute listening session of the three-part series will start at 6:30, followed by a panel discussion, led by Kay; Deborah George, the project’s editor; Stan Bumgardner, a West Virginia historian who created the traveling exhibit, and Jonathon Zimmerman, education historian and chair of NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. Two other Spencer Fellows, Pat Wingert of Newsweek, and Linda Shaw of the Seattle Times, will round out the forum.
The documentary examines a fight over the selection of a new set of textbooks in Kanawha County, West Virginia during the 1974 school year that led to violent protests involving schools being hit by dynamite, buses riddled with bullets, and coal mines closing. The case is considered the first battleground in the American culture wars.