What Makes Democracy Work?: Citizens and Civic Participation

Posted by Laura Tavares on April 27, 2017

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!

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Topics: Democracy

What Makes Democracy Work?: Individuals and a Nation's Laws

Posted by Laura Tavares on April 20, 2017

Facing History and Ourselves is exploring “What Makes Democracy Work?” in conversation with people whose insights from history, politics, literature, and civic life help us consider what it takes to sustain democracy in our societies today. In the first installment of our series, we spoke with Ben Railton, Professor of English Studies and American Studies at Fitchburg State University in Massachusetts who tells us about two enslaved people who successfully sued for their freedom in the early years of the American republic.

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Topics: Democracy

Facing History Announces New Campaign to Ask "What Makes Democracy Work?"

Posted by Laura Tavares on April 13, 2017

We have all seen, heard, and even felt a heightened sense of division in many communities around the world. Elections in 2016 and 2017—in England, the United States, France and Germany—have both revealed and exacerbated deep tensions in these societies. Never before has it been more important to truly understand the fundamentals of democracy. That’s why Facing History and Ourselves is launching a new campaign inviting educators, students, and community members to ask, "What makes democracy work?" 

Over the next eight weeks, we’ll be exploring this question with the help of historians, legal and political scholars, and voices from literature and history—and, we hope, with you. Look for weekly blog posts and teaching resources on our new page, Democracy and Us, and join us on social media with the hashtag #DemocracyAndUs to share your ideas, stories, and classroom experiences. This week, we consider why it's important to ask fundamental questions about democracy in our societies today.

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Topics: Democracy, Facing History Resources, current events, In the news, Lesson Plan

Flexing Our Civic Muscles Together Against Antisemitism, Hatred, and Intolerance

Posted by Karen Murphy on March 20, 2017

The stories are heartbreaking and chilling. In the first few weeks of 2017, identity-based hatred appears to be pervasive and on the rise. Two immigrants from India were shot in Kansas allegedly by a man who confronted them about their visa status; historical Jewish cemeteries were vandalized in St. Louis and Philadelphia; and, in Rockville, Maryland, a Jewish couple, who put up a Black Lives Matter banner outside their home, received a threatening note with the word “Jew” written in German and the ominous promise of  “mayhem.” On January 29th, six people were killed and 19 were injured in a mass-shooting at a mosque in Quebec City. The victims included fathers, an academic, and local businessmen. They were in the midst of evening prayers.

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Topics: Antisemitism, Democracy, International, Human Behavior, Paris, current events

Inside the Online World of Fake News with BuzzFeed's Craig Silverman

Posted by Stacey Perlman on March 14, 2017

Craig Silverman was studying fake news long before the world turned its attention to such a topic. In fact, he’s considered a fake news expert, now working as the media editor for BuzzFeed News. With his fingers on the pulse of a changing journalism landscape, he sees dangers and potential in the way both adults and young people absorb news and information. It’s why he’s speaking to students on March 22 for a one-hour interactive online summit, “Viral Rumors and Fact Checking,” with Facing History and Ourselves and the News Literacy Project

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Topics: Democracy, Journalism, news literacy

The Myth of a Post-Racial Society After the Obama Presidency

Posted by Jeremy Nesoff on February 8, 2017

As the first black president, Barack Obama's legacy will always include issues of race. At his farewell speech he acknowledged this: "After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. Race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society.” His presidency reveals the longstanding myth that American history has always been on a steady, progressive path towards embracing equality for all.

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Topics: Democracy, Reconstruction, American History, Civil War, Racism, Judgement and Legacy, legacy, race

How To Assess the Strength of a Democracy

Posted by Dan Sigward on January 18, 2017

This Friday, the United States will inaugurate its 45th president, Donald Trump. The tensions and divisions that were unearthed by the 2016 presidential campaign will not be put to rest once President Barack Obama transitions power to this new administration. Instead, they will require active, thoughtful, and responsible participation of citizens to work through together; our responsibilities as citizens do not end at the voting booth. This inauguration is an appropriate time to reflect and renew our engagement as committed participants in a healthy democracy. As we take stock in our own role in this, how do we also help students make sense of these divisions and assess the strength of democracy and civil society?

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Topics: To Kill a Mockingbird, Democracy, Reconstruction, Weimar Republic

Voting for the First Time During a Turbulent Election: One Student's Story

Posted by Stacey Perlman on January 12, 2017

The 2016 presidential campaign will go down as one of the most divisive in US history. Read what it was like for high school senior, Lilly Hackworth, to vote for the first time during such a contentious race and how she used Facing History and Ourselves to help her navigate such a turbulent political climate.

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Topics: Democracy, voting

Facing Ourselves is Not Easy

Posted by Liz Vogel on December 8, 2016

A month since the US presidential election has passed and I'm still reflecting on events from the first days following the results. It has over-delivered on what I feared most: an open platform for bigotry, hate, and violence:
 
White students in schools chanted "Build the wall,'" "White power," and "Heil Hitler."  White students formed a "wall" to block Latino students from entering school.  Rainbow flags burned.  Confederate flags raised.  Muslim girls and women attacked on the subway, on the street, in stores, and in school.
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Topics: Democracy, voting, Racism

Why Reconstruction Matters After this Election

Posted by Jeremy Nesoff on November 17, 2016

Before the US presidential election, Eric Liu wrote in a recent article in the Atlantic, “Whatever the outcome on Election Day, more than 40 percent of American voters will feel despondent, disgusted, and betrayed.” As we face this reality together, we have a chance to learn from the pivotal dilemmas and choices of our nation’s past as we pick up the pieces from the exhausting 2016 election cycle. We can look to the aftermath of the Civil War—another period of deep division within the US—to better understand how we got to this current divisive moment filled with vitriolic rhetoric.

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Topics: Democracy, Voting Rights, Reconstruction, voting

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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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