In an interview earlier this year, I sat down with Nicole Chung—author of All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir (2018). There, Chung details her experience growing up as a transracial adoptee of Korean descent within a white family in small-town Oregon. Her journey of navigating anti-Asian racism without the understanding of her white family, building resilience, searching for her Korean birth family, and coming into her own as a writer and mother are among the threads that tie this riveting story together. Her memoir addresses issues of identity and speaking across difference that are central to the educational approach of Facing History, and educators will find much to reflect upon within its pages.
One of my clearest memories of discovering how much I loved to read is of sprinting through Shel Silverstein’s poetry collections. I remember how delighted I was to learn that he had written many, how fascinated I was to understand that “author” was a job some adults in fact had. That, just like my parents who went to work everyday, authors like Shel wrote and got paid. I started filling my own notebooks with illustrations and the prose of an eight-year-old. Later, learning that Shel Silverstein was Jewish, just like me, made me weigh some of his words differently. It was my first understanding of what writing as a minority might look like. I was hooked.
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.
From left to right: Freeholder Alexander Mirabella, Frank Stebbins, and Dr. Hank Kaplowitz.
In a recent interview, I spoke with acclaimed educator Frank Stebbins about his path to teaching, unique approaches in the classroom, and how Facing History has been instrumental in his development as an educator. Stebbins was recently named the 2019 Hank Kaplowitz Outstanding Human Rights Educator of the Year by the Human Rights Institute at Kean University.
"What does it mean to be American?" is a timely question amidst the immigration debate but it's also one the United States has been struggling with for years. In 2014, New York Times reporter Damien Cave traveled the length of highway I-35, which runs south to north through the middle of the United States, for his “The Way North” project. Along the way, he asked 35 people this question. In 1997, the PBS documentary, A More Perfect Union, addressed the same issue. The complexity of these answers over time still resonates today.
Adolescence is a time when many young people are figuring out who they are. David Lopera, a high school student in Boston, describes what happened when he went to great lengths to fit in at school. You'll find this essay and more in our new unit, "My Part of the Story: Exploring Identity in the United States." This series of six lessons will challenge your students to define their own identity and their relationship to society as a whole.
A few years ago, a book came into my possession that has been tossed around in my family like a hot potato for several generations.
Entitled, Religion and Slavery: A Vindication of Southern Churches, the book's author was James McNeilly, a Presbyterian minister and Confederate veteran from Nashville, Tennessee. Inside the front cover is an inscription from the author to my great-great-great-grandmother.
"To Corinne Lawrence: A tried and true friend of many years—and a devoted lover of the Old South, which I have tried to vindicate."
In honor of Black History Month, read what it was like for Valerie Linson, Editorial Director for Facing History, to walk through the National African American Museum of History and Culture in Washington DC for the first time.
Friday January 27—the day Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated—is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This day calls for people around the world to remember and honor the victims of the Holocaust—those who perished and those who survived to tell their story. Read how one survivor found healing through the Facing History students who listened to her after years of staying silent.
Imagine preserving the voices and stories of an entire generation over a single holiday weekend. For the second year in a row, Facing History and Ourselves is partnering with StoryCorps for The Great Thanksgiving Listen to accomplish just that. You can preserve history with us by uploading your own interview with an elder this year, and empowering your students to do the same, by using the free StoryCorps app. Visit thegreatlisten.org for more details about the project and to download the TGTL 2016 Teacher Toolkit.