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History teacher Mike Burgess to speak about the challenges he faces

CRBR Biz Wire //February 21, 2024//

History teacher Mike Burgess to speak about the challenges he faces

CRBR Biz Wire //February 21, 2024//

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Michael Burgess

COLUMBIA, S.C. – George Orwell wrote, “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” Mike Burgess knows Orwell was right. Mike is a history teacher, caught between today’s left and right in their efforts to seize control of the future.

He wrote, in a recent edition of The State newspaper, about what it’s like to be “a culture war piñata.”

He’ll talk about that, and about the importance of our youth learning their country’s history in order to become worthwhile citizens, in a free lecture at noon on Friday, March 8, at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum in Columbia. His program is called, “The Soul of America: The Challenges of Teaching the American Revolution in the 21st Century.” The program is part of the museum’s regular Noon Debriefs series.

In his guest column on Feb. 4, Burgess wrote:
“Any grasp of who we are as Americans requires a deep understanding of American history… We are failing our children in this task.
“We are at a crossroads in South Carolina with how American history is to be taught in our classrooms. We are trapped between those who want to whitewash and sanitize our state and national story to omit those truths we find uncomfortable and those who want to erase any part of our past that does not meet our 21st century social and cultural norms. …”

The River Bluff High School teacher has been speaking publicly on the subject of his calling, and has been much in demand as a speaker since being named last year as both the Gilder Lehrman South Carolina History Teacher of the Year and South Carolina Daughters of the American Revolution Outstanding Teacher of American History. Just a few days ago, he made a presentation to the DAR in Greenville.

In his speeches, he says “History must be taught fully, fairly, and honestly, or else we have a limited understanding of the past, with no way to explain the present, and no hope of building a better future.”

And as he told the DAR, “No time period is more important for our students to fully grasp as future leaders of our republic than that of the American Revolution.” That period is of particular interest for Burgess, and he has spoken about it previously at the Relic Room, specifically on the subject of the legendary British officer Banastre Tarleton.

The American Revolution was the moment when “the natural rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” became the worldwide “standard for human rights.” He asserts that “Any grasp of who we are as Americans requires an understanding of the American Revolution. Without it, we are an uninformed and flawed citizenry at best. At worst, we are the authors of our own demise as a nation.”

Burgess works hard to keep that from happening in his classroom every day. He will continue that mission at the Relic Room on March 8.

About the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum

Founded in 1896, the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum is an accredited museum focusing on South Carolina’s distinguished martial tradition through the Revolutionary War, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, Vietnam, the War on Terror, and other American conflicts. It serves as the state’s military history museum by collecting, preserving, and exhibiting South Carolina’s military heritage from the colonial era to the present, and by providing superior educational experiences and programming. It recently opened a major new exhibit, “A War With No Front Lines: South Carolina and the Vietnam War, 1965-1973.” The museum is located at 301 Gervais St. in Columbia, sharing the Columbia Mills building with the State Museum. For more information, go to