Activist Jose Antonio Vargas Speaks to Facing History

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on December 6, 2019

As people living on American soil await a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on the fate of DACA—the immigration policy that has permitted some 700,000 undocumented youth to remain in the U.S. after being brought here as children—one figurehead of the undocumented movement is urging young immigrants to be fearless in building their lives here, with or without the right papers. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas presents a challenging call to action, yet he speaks from experience. Since putting his life and livelihood on the line by announcing his undocumented status in a pathbreaking 2011 essay, Vargas has inspired undocumented immigrants around the U.S. to find their voices, and helped U.S. citizens broaden their thinking about immigration and belonging.

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Topics: New York, Immigration, Upstander

The Problem with Celebrating Forgiveness

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on November 25, 2019

The news cycles of the last few years have captured countless instances of racist violence perpetrated by white people against black people—a continuation of a long history of antiblack violence in the United States. And amid this legacy of violence, a number of black figures have done the unimaginable: they have publicly expressed forgiveness to avowedly racist white people who murdered their relatives and community members.

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Topics: Race and Membership, American History, black history

What's Wrong with Jojo Rabbit

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on November 21, 2019

Taika Waititi’s new film, Jojo Rabbit, has polarized both critics and audiences—and for good reason. Dubbed an “anti-hate satire,” the film tells the story of Johannes “Jojo” Betzler—a ten-year old German boy striving to find social belonging and direction as he comes of age during World War II. In the absence of his father who has gone off to war, Jojo relies heavily on the guidance of an imaginary friend who takes the form of Adolf Hiter—portrayed here by director Waititi, a Maori man of Jewish descent.

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Topics: Film, Holocaust and Human Behaviour

Teaching Impeachment Amid Polarization

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on November 18, 2019

As public presidential impeachment hearings begin in the US House of Representatives, American middle and high school educators face a number of unique challenges. One might ask: How can I address such a polarizing issue in my classroom when my students’ political ideologies are all over the map? How can I ensure that thoughtful discourse prevails over name-calling and hostility, even when emotions are running high? And how can I make this a meaningful opportunity for civic learning?

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Topics: Democracy

Countering Narratives of Hate in the UK

Posted by Aneira Roose-McClew on October 24, 2019

This past fortnight has seen an alarming number of antisemitic and racist incidents in the news: in Germany, two people were killed and many more terrorised in a mass shooting attempt that targetted a synagogue; in Bulgaria, football fans taunted players with racist chants and Nazi salutes; in Hertfordshire, a teacher allegedly “joked” about sending primary school pupils who failed to complete their work “to the gas chamber” (and then told them not to tell anyone); and in politics, another Labour politician resigned from the party citing the rise of antisemitism as the reason for her departure.

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Topics: United Kingdom, Antisemitism, Racism

Dolores Huerta's Life of Indefatigable Resistance

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on October 10, 2019

This National Hispanic Heritage Month, we find an opportunity to explore histories, contributions, and experiences of Hispanic and Latinx people in our communities and classrooms that are often left out of the news and history books. One such story is that of Dolores Huerta—a Chicana activist whose contributions rival those of the most renowned civil rights leaders in U.S. history, but whose legacy is significantly less known. Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012 and nine honorary doctorates, Huerta is a living legend in the labor movement and has been a tireless advocate for social justice for over 50 years.

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Topics: American History, Upstander, Latinx History

Revisiting Mockingbird During Banned Books Week

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on September 25, 2019

Banned Books Week is here once again—and it invites us to reflect upon the narratives that we choose to amplify within our communities and those we choose to silence. One text that continues to provoke these questions for American educators is Harper Lee’s 1960 novel, To Kill a Mockingbird

In 2018, PBS identified Lee’s novel as the “most-loved” book in the United States in the Great American Read—an eight-part television series that celebrated popular texts based on a national survey that examined “how and why writers create their fictional worlds, how we as readers are affected by these stories, and what [the] 100 different books have to say about our diverse nation and our shared human experience.” 

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Topics: To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

Civic Education as Community Development: An Interview with Daniel Warner

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on September 13, 2019

As teachers and students return to the classroom this fall, a number of Facing History teachers are hitting the books themselves. One of them is Daniel Warner, a history teacher in Memphis, Tennessee and recipient of the prestigious James Madison Graduate Fellowship for advanced study in constitutional history and government. In this interview, we discuss his path as an educator, how Facing History has shaped his approach to civic education, and how he uses primary sources to design transformative learning experiences.

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Topics: Professional Development, Teachers

Remembering Daisy Bates: Orator at the March on Washington

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on August 28, 2019

Today marks the 56th anniversary of the March on Washington—the historic 1963 protest in which as many as 500,000 people marched to demand jobs and freedom for Americans of all racial backgrounds. Though many of us remember this as the day that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, it is easy to forget that he was not the only civil rights leader to address the crowd. One of the leaders who joined him was movement veteran Daisy Bates—the only woman permitted to speak, though not in her own words.

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Topics: American History, black history

6 Classroom Design Hacks for Teachers

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on August 19, 2019

As we prepare to return to school this year, knowing how to set the tone for an inclusive, productive classroom environment is essential. Since 1976, Facing History has offered industry-leading tools for establishing a classroom climate that deepens empathy, demands intellectual rigor, and invites a plurality of student voices. And we equip teachers with lessons designed to build this type of climate in our Back-to-School Toolkit. But something as seemingly basic as how we set up the physical space of our classrooms can also have a significant impact on classroom culture and learning outcomes.

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Topics: Back-To-School, Innovative Classrooms

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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