Upstanding Art: A Q&A with Dory Lerner on the Memphis Upstanders Mural

Posted by McKinley Doty on February 16, 2017

In February 1968, Thomas “T.O.” Jones led 1,300 black sanitation workers in a citywide strike against Memphis’ abusive treatment of its black employees. Facing History is honoring Jones and 13 other Memphians who chose to confront injustice and defy indifference through our Upstanders Mural. This commnity-driven public art display is located across the street from the National Civil Rights Museum and steps away from where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.  

We spoke with Dory Lerner, Museum Educator at the National Civil Rights Museum and a Facing History volunteer, about the importance of the mural in the community and how the stories of these upstanders can be blueprints for changemakers today.

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Topics: Art, Memorials, Memory, Memphis, Upstanders, Civil Rights, Community, legacy

Martin Luther King, Jr.: 50 Years Worth of Lessons From a Giant

Posted by Taymullah Abdur-Rahman on January 9, 2017

As a 12-year-old African American boy fresh off the influence of Malcolm X’s autobiography, I didn't always appreciate the ethical stock of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I remember watching a news report about his birthday and remarking, to the dismay of my mother that, "Martin Luther King was a sell-out."  

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Topics: Civil Rights Movement, Civil Rights, Community, Judgement and Legacy, Social Justice, reflection

Find Your Civic Superpower and Put On Your Cape

Posted by Karen Murphy on December 28, 2016

The epitaphs for 2016 are coming out by the hour. It was the worst of years, some are saying, in the midst of uncertain times. Of course, at midnight on the 31st, the challenges we face won’t go away. The only way that 2017 will be better is if we make it so.

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Topics: International, Community

(Re)Building Classroom Community Post-Election

Posted by Karen Barss on November 16, 2016


In the wake of the divisive United States election, educators are in a unique position to help students develop their skills as civic actors, thinkers, upstanders, and problem-solvers. This work isn’t easy in the best of times, but it’s particularly challenging during times of deep division and intolerance.

The following resources—from Facing History and our partners at StoryCorps—are designed to help your students gain critical thinking skills, empathy and tolerance, and a sense of civic responsibility.

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Topics: Classrooms, Teaching Resources, Community, difficult conversations, civil discourse

StoryCorps’ Dave Isay: Show Gratitude by Listening

Posted by Aileen McQuillen on October 3, 2016

Imagine preserving the voices and stories of an entire generation over a single holiday weekend. For the second year in a row, Facing History and Ourselves is partnering with StoryCorps for The Great Thanksgiving Listen to accomplish just that. You can preserve history with us by uploading your own interview with an elder this year, and empowering your students to do the same, by using the free StoryCorps app. Visit thegreatlisten.org for more details about the project and to download the TGTL 2016 Teacher Toolkit.

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Topics: Student Voices, Memory, Identity, History, Community, David Isay, StoryCorps

Students Memorialize a Past Tragedy to Create a More Hopeful Future

Posted by Marti Tippens Murphy on May 23, 2016

How is a little known lynching case from 1917 relevant today?

For students at Overton High School in Memphis, Tennessee, discovering the case of Ell Persons became a call to action. Angered by the brutality of his murder and the high number of lynchings that took place in their own backyard, they decided to channel their energy into something positive. They have been hard at work to create a memorial for Persons and to bring light to an often forgotten part of U.S. history so that others, too, will learn from the past.

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Topics: Memorials, Memory, Memphis, Community, Upstander

Celebrating 10 Years of Community Conversations!

Posted by Stacey Perlman on February 8, 2016

In 2015 Facing History and Ourselves celebrated ten incredible years of Community Conversations, marking the decade with its first ever event in Boston.

Thanks to The Allstate Foundation’s sponsorship of Community Conversations, Facing History has been able to engage communities in difficult discussions around bigotry and hatred; work we’ve honed for nearly 40 years in classrooms around the globe. These free events spark respectful dialogue about pressing social issues and engage people from all different backgrounds to address racism, prejudice, and antisemitism. And in today’s world the need for unifying, understanding, and healing has never been greater.

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Topics: Boston, Community, Community Conversations, Bryan Stevenson, The Allstate Foundation

StoryCorps’ Dave Isay: Engaging Everyone in the Act of Listening

Posted by Aileen McQuillen on October 7, 2015

Imagine preserving the voices and stories of an entire generation over a single holiday weekend. That’s our hope, as Facing History and Ourselves partners with StoryCorps for the 2015 Great Thanksgiving Listen. We will work with high school teachers across the country, whose students will interview a grandparent or elder over the 2015 Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and record their story with the StoryCorps mobile app.

Ahead of the Great Thanksgiving Listen, we sat down with Dave Isay, the founder of StoryCorps and winner of a 2015 $1 million TED Prize. Isay made public radio documentaries for nearly two decades before starting StoryCorps 12 years ago. (The interview has been slightly condensed.)

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Topics: Student Voices, Memory, Identity, History, Community, David Isay, StoryCorps

8 Components of a Reflective Classroom

Posted by Doc Miller on August 5, 2015

The philosopher Hannah Arendt said that the essence of being human is participating in moral discourse with others. "The things of the world become human for us only when we can discuss them with our fellows. We humanize what is going on in the world and in ourselves only by speaking of it, and in the course of speaking of it we learn to be human." In a reflective classroom community, students work together in an engaging study of our past, and of our world today. Knowledge is constructed, not passively absorbed. And students, with both hearts and minds mobilized, are seen as subjects actively engaged in a community of learners. A trusting classroom atmosphere like this creates the space for deep, democratic learning. The creation of an environment like this requires a thoughtful approach. 

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Topics: Classrooms, Back-To-School, Teaching Strategies, Student Voices, Students, Schools, Teachers, Community

Resilience in the Face of Hatred

Posted by Steven Becton on June 19, 2015

It could have been me. In fact, it could have been any of us. By us, I mean the people all over this world who enter churches, synagogues, mosques, and other sacred places of worship to study, to pray, to listen, to sing, and sometimes even to mourn.

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Topics: Classrooms, Teaching Strategies, Choosing to Participate, Students, Teaching, News, Upstanders, Facing History and Ourselves, Teachers, Civil Rights, Critical Thinking, Community

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Welcome to Facing Today, a Facing History blog. Facing History and Ourselves combats racism and antisemitism by using history to teach tolerance in classrooms around the globe.

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