What Do We Remember on Holocaust Remembrance Day?

Posted by Laura Tavares on January 24, 2020

On January 27, we observe International Holocaust Remembrance Day. First designated by the United Nations in 2005, this commemoration coincides with the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945. Around the world, people will gather at sites of memory, listen as survivors share their harrowing stories, and honor victims. Like many commemorations, International Holocaust Remembrance Day looks simultaneously backwards and forwards, linking memory of the past with a mandate to educate and a call to conscience in the present. 

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Topics: Memory, Identity, Holocaust and Human Behaviour

King's Life is a Demand

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on January 20, 2020

As we observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the midst of our present climate of hate, we are inevitably asked to consider how far we have come in realizing the visions of justice and equality that King articulated a half century ago. Though King has been memorialized in many places around the country and world, how we represent his legacy remains contested and points to divisions in our thinking about what it actually means to promote racial justice. Cultural artifacts like monuments present rich opportunities to examine the narratives we choose to uphold and sideline in the public sphere, and the forthcoming Boston-based memorial to the Kings is no exception.

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Topics: Civil Rights Movement, Race and Membership, American History, black history

Civic Action Meets Civic Education in Colombia

Posted by Carolina Valencia and Juan Camilo Aljuri Pimiento on January 16, 2020

As historians, we have worked for a long time with Colombian school teachers on peace and citizenship education, both during their graduate degrees and through the implementation of official programs and projects in schools. Accordingly, the national strike is of great importance for us. It all began a few months ago, when a teachers’ protest was planned to take place on November 21st. The main purpose was to demand the fulfillment of several state commitments regarding educational issues (health plans, security, etc). However, other sectors joined in the following weeks and the protest became a national civic strike.

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Topics: Colombia

4 Excellent Winter Reads

Posted by Tracy O'Brien on January 14, 2020

Studies have shown that reading, particularly memoir and fiction, can increase a person’s ability to empathize with the experiences of others. Reading diverse books matters, and can educate and transform us in important and lasting ways. This group of books highlights several different voices and lived experiences. We hope that you are able to find yourself and others in these books.

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Topics: Reading List

Halting Human Trafficking from Schoolhouse to State House: An Interview with Danny Papa

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on January 10, 2020

Since 2010, January 11th has marked National Human Trafficking Awareness Day—and is part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month which runs throughout January in the United States. In a recent interview, I spoke with Danny Papa—a New Jersey-based educator who inspired his middle school students to take leading roles in the movement to end human trafficking from the schoolhouse to the state house. In addition to serving as a K-12 Supervisor for Jefferson Township Public Schools, Papa serves as President of the Board of Trustees and Education Committee Chair for the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking.

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Topics: Choosing to Participate, Human Rights, Upstanders, Teachers

Responding to Contemporary Antisemitism in the Classroom

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on January 9, 2020

As the nation reacts to the wave of antisemitic attacks that have occurred in cities including New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago in recent weeks, educators are faced with unique challenges. By creating safe spaces for reflection and questioning, by offering context and lessons from history, and by sharing examples of compassion and resistance, teachers can play a vital role in responding to acts of hate. 

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Topics: Antisemitism, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles

South Africans Reflect on the Rugby World Cup

Posted by Dylan Wray on January 8, 2020

2-11-19 (November 2, 2019) will be a date South Africans remember for a long time. Not because everyone is a rugby fan. Not because all South Africans followed the Springboks’ journey through the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. Not because every South African watched the 90 minute final (although, by all accounts, millions of us did from all over the land, in fan parks, in homes, taverns, bars, and restaurants). 2-11-19 will be remembered because the South African Rugby team’s World Cup victory reminded us how far we have come as a country and the victory gave us hope again.  

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Topics: South Africa

Saying No to Hitler in A Hidden Life

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on December 17, 2019

Auteur filmmaker Terrence Malick’s latest work, A Hidden Life, is based on the true story of Austrian peasant farmer Franz Jägerstätter—a conscientious objector who refused to swear loyalty to Adolf Hitler when called to active duty during World War II. As Jägerstätter’s refusal alienates him from his community and puts his life in jeopardy, the film offers an artful look at some of the moral choices made during this period, and an affecting meditation on what it means to have agency when we are subject to power structures greater than ourselves. And notably for educators, the film provokes a type of reflection central to best practices in adolescent education on WWII and the Holocaust.

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Topics: Upstanders, Holocaust and Human Behaviour

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

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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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