Centering Black Lives: A Reading List for All Ages

Posted by Tracy O'Brien on August 10, 2020

The Black Lives Matter movement is working to create a more just and equitable society by pushing for systemic reforms and raising awareness of violence and racism against African Americans and other Black people worldwide. The name of the movement, Black Lives Matter, is simple and direct, yet radical in asserting that Black people, and their history and lived experiences past and present, be seen, heard and known. One way to learn more is to read broadly about Black lives. This list brings together a varied group of memoirs by African American and Black authors, each of which shares their unique journey and perspectives, and illustrates some of the diversity of the Black experience. Although many of the authors describe experiences with personal or systemic racism, it is important to note that all of the authors also touch upon their full range of human experiences, including joy, humor and fun. 

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Topics: Books, Reading List, black history

Trauma-Informed Teaching in Action: An Expert Interview

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on August 6, 2020

“This framework is centered on compassion and care, fierce commitment to viewing students as knowledgeable and capable, and viewing the invitation to bring life experiences into school as integral to day-to-day teaching and learning.” Dr. Elizabeth Dutro 

In a recent interview, I spoke with Dr. Elizabeth Dutro and Alex Shevrin Venet concerning the need for trauma-informed teaching in these times. Dr. Dutro is a professor and chair of the Literacy Studies program at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education. There, she draws on past classroom experience and her extensive research to design pedagogies that make space for difficult experiences to be honored as knowledge in schools. Her publications include her book The Vulnerable Heart of Literacy: Centering Trauma as Powerful Pedagogy. Venet is a Vermont-based, industry-leading trainer, educator, and writer helping educators implement trauma-informed practices across the country. Her first book, Equity-Centered Trauma-Informed Education, is forthcoming from W. W. Norton in spring 2021.

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Topics: Back-To-School, trauma

Facing History Hosts Bettina Love

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on August 3, 2020

As part of Facing History’s Teaching for Equity and Justice summit series, we recently hosted Dr. Bettina L. Love in a riveting presentation on her work and vision for education. We look forward to sharing some of our key learnings at the conclusion of the second summit, but we’d like to make sure that Dr. Love’s paradigm-shifting work is on your radar in the meantime.

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Topics: Equity in Education

What is Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)?

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on July 28, 2020

Amid the traumas and upheavals sweeping our communities over the last many months, education leaders everywhere have been urging schools to center social-emotional learning (SEL) this fall. Whether one’s coursework will be conducted online, in person, or through a hybrid format, SEL is a foundation of effective teaching in the best of times and a vital lifeline in times of difficulty. In these times, it is crucial that educators come equipped with an educational plan that begins with nurturing adolescents’ sense of community and connection at school. And it is also crucial that educators come prepared to acknowledge the diverse array of experiences that community members are bringing back into the classroom. The demands of teaching don’t always allow educators to take a deep dive into the how’s and why’s of SEL but there’s never been a better time to do so. Here’s what educators need to know about this essential framework this year.

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Topics: Back-To-School, SEL, Social and Emotional Learning

Teaching to Transform: Dr. Karlos Hill on Educator-Activist Clara Luper

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on July 23, 2020

In a recent interview, I spoke with Dr. Karlos Hill concerning the life and legacy of educator-activist Clara Luper. Dr. Hill is Associate Professor and Chair of the Clara Luper Department of African and African American Studies at the University of Oklahoma where he teaches the history of racial violence in the U.S. He serves on the Facing History and Ourselves Board of Scholars. He is the author of Beyond the Rope: The Impact of Lynching on Black Culture and Memory, The Murder of Emmett Till: A Graphic History, as well as a forthcoming book entitled The Tulsa Race Massacre: A Photographic History. In 2023, Dr. Hill plans to publish a new edition of Clara Luper’s memoir Behold the Walls that chronicles the Oklahoma City Sit-In Movement. In this interview, we discuss the history of the Oklahoma City Sit-Ins and Clara Luper’s approach to teaching as an educator-activist. Luper was a history teacher at Dunjee High School in 1957 when she became an adviser to the Oklahoma City NAACP’s Youth Council. In that role, she helped to spark a desegregation movement that would sweep the country. 

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Topics: Teachers, black history, student activism

South Africans Respond to American Racism

Posted by Karen Murphy and Dylan Wray on July 17, 2020

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Topics: South Africa, Racism

What Should We Memorialize?

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on July 10, 2020

What have our communities and nation chosen to memorialize and why? These are among the questions that Americans are grappling with in the midst of massive social upheaval and a growing list of instances in which protesters are removing or defacing monuments celebrating historical figures⁠—monuments they feel celebrate racist legacies and signal an ongoing commitment to upholding racism. This wave of direct action has also spread to countries like England and Belgium as their populations reckon with the legacies of racism and colonialism in their own corners of the globe. Facing History invites educators to explore the following lessons on the contested meaning of monuments and historical symbols, as well as how new monuments and symbols have the potential to ground us in narratives that aid repair:

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Topics: Memorials, Racism, black history

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

Posted by Thomas Simpson on July 2, 2020

Each year for Independence Day, students of history read and reflect upon Frederick Douglass’ landmark speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July.”  In recent years, scholars have begun to reexamine the life and legacy of this famous abolitionist and orator. Guest writer Thomas Simpson offers a review of historian David Blight's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom. Thomas holds a master's degree in History from Georgetown University and is a core member of Facing History's Marketing and Communications team.

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Topics: Reconstruction, Racism, Slavery

Race and Protest in Britain - A Young Person's Perspective

Posted by Sanum Khan on June 30, 2020

In collaboration with Facing History UK, educator Sanum Khan recently interviewed 18-year-old Kam Lambert about his experiences of growing up as a mixed-race young man in Britain, and how the events of recent months have impacted him. His insights and experiences send several powerful messages to us all within and beyond Britain. Facing History UK is an entity of Facing History and Ourselves, and Sanum Khan is a Facing History teacher and Specialist Leader of Education for Religious Studies and Personal, Social and Health Education in Buckinghamshire.

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Topics: United Kingdom, Racism, black history, white supremacy

Teaching While Queer: One Teacher on Being Out in the Classroom

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on June 25, 2020

In a recent interview, I spoke with educator Emily Hainesteacher and literacy coach at the Laboratory School of Finance and Technology in the South Bronx. A founding teacher at the Facing History School in Manhattan, Haines discusses her experience being an out lesbian, white, middle-class teacher over her 22-year career, as well as approaches she recommends to LGBTQ educators she coaches and how she deploys intersectional thinking to support members of her school community.

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Topics: Upstanders, Racism, LGBTQ

At Facing History and Ourselves, we value conversation—in classrooms, in our professional development for educators, and online. When you comment on Facing Today, you're engaging with our worldwide community of learners, so please take care that your contributions are constructive, civil, and advance the conversation.

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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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