On May 21, 1917 thousands of people gathered in Memphis to watch the brutal lynching of Ell Persons. One hundred years later, this past Sunday, the student-led activist group, Students Uniting Memphis (SUM), gathered with 500 community members from all backgrounds to commemorate his life and bring awareness to the injustices that occur when we divide people into “us” vs. “them.”
Topics: Race and Membership
One of the demands of democracy is the ability to productively engage with others who see things differently—to debate ideas, learn from one another, and advocate for thoughtful and informed decisions. Productive engagement of this kind requires us to think critically and to try to discern fact from opinion, hypothesis from truth. This last part has felt especially complicated over the last several months.
Thirty-eight years ago, I was part of writing Facing History’s first edition of Holocaust and Human Behavior. It was a different time then. Holocaust education was minimal and what was taught tended to focus only on the concentration camps and the victimization of Jews and other “undesirable” groups. Students would often respond with the sentiment of, “What happened was horrible but what has that got to do with me? I can’t change the past.” That’s why I knew Facing History was onto something with Holocaust and Human Behavior all those years ago.
Topics: Holocaust and Human Behavior
For the past three weeks, we’ve been exploring the question “What Makes Democracy Work?” with scholars, activists, and thought leaders whose insights and stories teach us about what it takes to sustain democracy. Each Thursday we post new podcasts, essays, and related classroom resources, which can all be found on our "What Makes Democracy Work?" webpage. This week, in honor of Teacher Appreciation Day, we’re saying thank you to the teachers who nurture democracy in their classrooms every day.
I am of the first generation in my family to grow up with the Internet at home as a tween and teen. Granted, we had Prodigy and AOL, and I had to make sure no one was on the phone to get my weekly Baby Sitter’s Club story. Still, one thing that was true then remains true now: as a teen I was a lot savvier about online spaces than my dad. In fact, my dad relied on me to get our AOL set up when we got our first computer. So it may surprise you when I tell you that kids today—despite being born into the age of social media and interconnectedness—can be terrible at navigating this digital landscape.
Topics: civil discourse
This week, in the fourth installment of our series, "What Makes Democracy Work?" we talk with interfaith leader Eboo Patel about what it looks like to build a healthy, religiously diverse democracy. We hope you’ll join the conversation using the hashtag #DemocracyandUs!
Over the past few years, there have been many times when we've awakened to news of terrorism—close to home or far away. In late 2016, a list of things more common than being a victim of a terrorist attack in America was published. This list included shark attacks, lightning strikes, and car accidents and was intended, in part, to create a sense of perspective. Indeed, terrorist attacks are rare, and they directly affect only a small number of people. But their impact and consequences are widespread. In countries around the world, terrorism has shaped security and policing, civil liberties, and the ways that people in diverse societies perceive and interact with each other.
Topics: global terrorism
We often think of empathy as a virtue—it’s sometimes used synonymously with terms like “compassion” and “understanding.” But empathy is more complicated than that. Sometimes there’s that feel-good, tender variety that helps us connect deeply with and nurture others. Then there’s also the I feel exactly what you are feeling variety that weighs us down with feelings of unsolvable pain.
Topics: Genocide/Collective Violence
In the third installment of our series, "What Makes Democracy Work?" we consider the role of citizens with the help of political philosopher Danielle Allen. Make sure to join the conversation using the hashtag #DemocracyAndUs!