On July 18th, 2021, Mandela Day was observed and people across the globe were encouraged to spend 67 minutes donating their time and efforts to benefit others. Lockdown laws in South Africa and elsewhere limited how people could traditionally gather as companies, organizations and communities to contribute their 67 minutes. But, as it turned out, South Africans in parts of the country did spend Sunday, July 18th together doing their bit. Many gathered to continue their efforts to clean up the devastation that remained after a week of looting and violence that had brought KwaZulu-Natal to its knees and threatened to do the same to Gauteng, the economic heartland of the country. Mandela would have been heartbroken by the week that led up to this Mandela Day. But as the week drew to a close and the violence calmed, his heart would have warmed at the sight of the residents of these Provinces coming together to clean up each other’s neighborhoods, streets and cities. The events that preceded Mandela Day were both warnings of the fragility of our democracy and a reminder that it is the people who hold this democracy to count, guard it and clean it up.
During the final week of July, Facing History will host Identity, Membership and Belonging: A Summit on Teaching Immigration featuring historian Dr. Erika Lee and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas. Though registration for the summit is now full, we invite you to join us for two upcoming webinars on July 28th and 29th with Dr. Erika Lee and Jose Antonio Vargas, respectively.
Whether you are able to join us or not, all educators are welcome to take advantage of our growing library of curricular resources that help students understand key historical migrations, the impact of the policies surrounding them, contemporary migration issues shaping our world, and the ways that migration shapes individual and national identity.
For many educators, summer offers a welcome break from the frenetic pace of the school year. But teacher professional development and summer fun aren’t mutually exclusive, and there are ways to squeeze in plenty of both before classes resume. With the rise of digital audiobooks and podcasts, it is easier than ever to build new skills and expose yourself to new ideas surrounding the theory and practice of teaching while, say, taking a leisurely walk on the beach, powering through an epic road trip, or even catching up on self-care at the gym.
Topics: Reading List
With the 24-hour news cycles that exist today, educators are faced with a challenging range of important topics to potentially address in the classroom, but actually teaching current events is easier said than done. From world-changing humanitarian situations to smaller developments unfolding at the level of one’s community, wading into these waters can be complicated, particularly without the support of best practices. How do we cultivate safe and brave spaces for our students and ourselves as we navigate the many issues of the day? And what does it look like to do this skillfully amidst the escalating culture wars that polarize discussion and the challenge of media literacy in a “post-truth” world?
Topics: current events
When Nina Simone sang the uplifting lyrics of her song “Young, Gifted and Black” in 1970, she invited her listeners into a powerful way of re-envisioning Black excellence in themselves and Black people around them. But even half a century later, there are a host of barriers that continue to undermine the flourishing of Black excellence in educational settings.
As acts of antisemitic violence have become more visible in the news in recent years in the United States, many non-Jewish people have begun to apprehend the extent of violence that continues to befall members of this community. Amid this awareness, we often hear less about the way that non-physical forms of violence—including words, symbols, and narratives that advance antisemitic hate—are equally insidious and have a particularly corrosive impact on young Jewish people’s experiences, self-concepts, and sense of possibility.
Facing History's Chief Officer of Equity and Inclusion Dr. Steven Becton and Kaitlin Smith recently placed an article in the School Library Journal newsletter about the historical contexts that shape educational inequity and what it takes to disrupt it.
Topics: Equity in Education
As Pride Month draws to a close, educators and school leaders have an opportunity to think about how to support and ally with LGBTQIA+ students more effectively all year long. But we must not forget that LGBTQIA+ youth are also powerful agents of change who are actually leading the way in many key arenas. This year, we are seeing a number of transgender youth standing up for equity, inclusion, and justice in powerful ways within and beyond their own school communities.
As we reflect upon various issues that figure in the lives of LGBTQIA+ people during Pride Month, it is also important to retain an understanding of the vastness and diversity of this community. Considering the impact of different dimensions of one’s identity—for example, sexual orientation, gender identity, racial identity, and class background—on one’s experience is crucial for gaining a meaningful understanding of one’s experiences. The complex connections between these various dimensions of identity is often described using the term “intersectionality.” Though it is not uncommon to encounter discussion of intersectionality in 2021, this was not always the case. One key figure who has left an indelible mark on intersectional thought and organizing is the Black lesbian scholar, feminist, mother, and poet Audre Lorde. Born in 1934, Lorde not only challenged her contemporaries to think about identity and politics intersectionally, but also challenged them to value the inner emotional landscape as a core resource in the work of liberation.
Pride Month each June offers educators a reminder to center the histories and experiences of LGBTQIA+ people throughout the year. But knowing which resources may offer compelling points of entry for students is a more challenging matter. Consider this rich array of online exhibitions and primary resources from archives and historical societies to open and/or revitalize reflection in your classroom about the experiences of LGBTQIA+ people across space and time.