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In Memory




The MHS Class of '60 in Decatur, IL extends its deepest condolences to Jim's family.  We celebrate and honor his distinguished career and achievements and are so proud we had the opportunity to know him.

Jim's obituary has appeared on several sites including the NY Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/20/books/james-w-loewen-dead.html and Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/james-loewen-dead/2021/08/20/ed1af032-0226-11ec-a664-4f6de3e17ff0_story.html  The Sun Times also released this notice: https://chicago.suntimes.com/2021/8/20/22634782/james-w-loewen-dead-at-79-wrote-lies-my-teacher-told-me-obituary  The Independent in the UK wrote: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/new-york-maryland-university-of-vermont-bethesda-mississippi-b1906342.html  Bloomberg News issued the AP wire service version: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-08-20/james-w-loewen-wrote-lies-my-teacher-told-me-dead-at-79  More will follow due to his national stature as sociologist/historian and author, and recipient of many awards. Future tributes are likely from Harvard, the Smithsonian, Tougaloo, U of Vermont, and other groups with whom he had a lifelong affilication.

Jim died, age 79, on August 19 at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, MD, surrounded by his family. He reported his dire prognosis of Stage IV muscle-invasive metastatic bladder cancer in 2019 on this page of his web site: https://justice.tougaloo.edu/james-w-loewen/  He chose his burial at a lake in Minnesota in advance and installed a tomb stone in advance.  Jim is survived by his second wife, Susan Robertson Loewen; children Nick Loewen and Lucy Loewen McMurrer; four grandchildren and his sister, Mary Cavalier. He was born on February 6, 1942, in Decatur, Illinois, his father a doctor and his mother a teacher and librarian.

He included a 1-page CV on his web site, excerpted below, as the full obituaries in the above publications are very long.  His "Notes for an Obituary" published on the site on 1-1-2020 is 4 pages long.

Education: B.A., Carleton College. M.A., Ph.D., Harvard U., sociology.

Positions Held: Associate professor, Tougaloo College, 1968-1975. Chair, Sociology-Anthropology; Social Science Division.

          Professor, University of Vermont, 1975‑97.

          Director of Research, Center for National Policy Review, 1978‑1980.

          Fulbright Professor, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia, 1981.

          Senior Postdoctoral Fellow, Smithsonian Institution, 1990-91, 1993, 1997.

          Visiting Professor, Catholic University of America, 1996-; Department of African American Studies, University of Illinois, 2005-16.

Multicultural Education

          In the early 1970s, led a team rewriting Mississippi history. The result, Mississippi: Conflict and Change (NY: Pantheon Books, 1974, with co‑authors), won the Lillian Smith Award for Best Southern Nonfiction of 1975 but was rejected for public‑school use by the State, leading to the lawsuit Loewen et al. v. Turnipseed, et al. (488 F. Supp. 1138), filed in 1975, finally won in 1980. The American Library Association summarizes this case among twelve court cases giving Americans "The Right To Read Freely."

          Lies My Teacher Told Me (The New Press, 1995, 2007, 2018) and The Truth About Columbus (same, 1992), show how American history, as taught in high school, is rife with distortion and error. Lies won the American Book Award, the Oliver C. Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship, and the Critics Choice Award of the American Educational Studies Association and has sold more than 1,250,000 copies.

          Teaching What Really Happened (Teachers College Press, 2009, second edition 2018) helps K-12 teachers avoid pitfalls and teach U.S. history more accurately, as does The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader, with co-editor (University Press of Mississippi, 2010).

Public History

          Lies Across America (The New Press, 1999, second edition 2019) critiques America's historic sites and museums. It has sold over 150,000 copies.

Race Relations

          The Mississippi Chinese: Between Black and White (second edition, Waveland Press, 1987). I also consulted on Mississippi Triangle, a documentary based on my book by Third World Newsreel under grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

          Sundown Towns (New Press, 2005), on communities that were (some still are) all-white on purpose, won the Gustavus Myers Foundation Award as an Outstanding Book of 2005.

          Expert witness in >50 legal cases involving voting rights, racism, and other issues of social justice.

          In 2012, the American Sociological Assn. gave Loewen its Cox-Johnson-Frazier Award for “outstanding achievement in research, teaching, and service with ... particular focus on human rights and social justice.”

          In 2020, Loewen published a brief memoir, Up a Creek, With a Paddle (Oakland: PM Press), partly about social change and race relations.

          Also in 2020, his new website, History and Social Justice, a tool kit for racial justice, debuted.




Click here to see Jim's last Profile entry.