Category Archives: civil rights

Balancing Security: Past, Present and Future

Hopefully you were able to join us at the Kansas Social Studies Conference earlier this month or were fortunate enough to get to attend National Council for the Social Studies annual conference in San Francisco just before Thanksgiving.  If you’re already looking for your next social studies fix or haven’t had the opportunity yet, might I suggest a trip to Kansas City?


Greetings, my fellow Kansans!  With any luck the year has settled in for you.  It has been a beautiful beginning, and the kids are just as wonderful as ever!  My name is Jeff Benes and I am the Past President of the Missouri Council for the Social Studies.  I live in Westwood, Kansas, but work in Gladstone, Missouri (be honest, how many of you had to Google those two locations). This school year, at the end of February, the Missouri Council is hosting our annual conference, and we wanted to reach out to you as neighbors and fellow teachers.  

National_World_War_I_Museum_-_Kansas_City,_MO_-_DSC07446The conference will be held on the Missouri side of Kansas City, at the National World War I Museum and Memorial, the weekend of February 23 and 24 (Friday and Saturday).  If you have never had a chance to visit, this is the time.  The museum itself is worth the weekend to come visit (and if you are a museum buff, you will need more than one day).  On top of that, there will be great presentations in both content and practice, incredible speakers, a great lunch, and the opportunity to network with people just like you:  Passionate teachers looking to hone their craft.   Continue reading Balancing Security: Past, Present and Future

75th Anniversary: Executive Order 9066

japanese-amer-childYou all know photographer Dorothea Lange. If not Dorothea herself, you’ll recognize her famous candid photos taken during the 1930s highlighting the struggles of Americans suffering during the Great Depression. Her iconic Migrant Mother and the series of photos around that image depict the desperation many felt during the period.

Later in 1942, she was hired by the US government to capture images of the relocation of Japanese-Americans affected by President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. Thousands of American citizens were being stripped of their civil liberties, their businesses, and their homes before being placed in internment camps scattered around the country.

Lange was originally opposed to the idea but accepted the task because she thought “a true record of the evacuation would be valuable in the future.” But after reviewing her photographs and their portrayal of the Japanese American experience, the military became concerned how the images of the internment program would be received by the public. Continue reading 75th Anniversary: Executive Order 9066

Black History 365

Cross-post by Glenn Wiebe from his site, History Tech.

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The beauty of studying history is that you can never learn it all. There’s always something new to discover. A fresh piece of evidence. Another interpretation. A person or event or idea that has always been there . . . just waiting to be uncovered.

Maybe it’s a small discovery that changes how you personally understand the world. This week I learned that Paul Revere was an amateur dentist. (And if you’re like me, there’s now an image in your head of Revere on a horse – “The cavities are coming! The cavities are coming!”)

Not earth-shattering. But still cool.

hiddenfigures2And then there are those people and events that are just a bit bigger and should change how we all see the world. The movie and book Hidden Figures are like that.

Seriously? How did that slip by?

African American women calculating aeronautical and astronomical math, helping push the United States into space? In the Jim Crow South? Now that’s cool. And powerful. And part of the American story. But up until the last few years, the story of people like Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson was relatively unknown and certainly not mentioned in any of the history classes I ever took.

Which brings us to February.

And Black History Month.

I’m always a bit conflicted about the idea. The concept of a month specifically set aside for the study of Black History started back in 1926 when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week.” That particular week was chosen because it marked the birthday of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.

In 1976, the federal government followed the lead of the Black United Students at Kent State and established the entire month as Black History Month. President Ford urged Americans, and especially teachers and schools, to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

The hope was that Black History Month would provide a very intentional time for all of us to remember together the struggles of African Americans to obtain the basic civil rights afforded to others, the challenges African Americans have faced for centuries, and the contributions of African Americans to who we are. But . . . the real hope was Continue reading Black History 365

Student Action: The Power Students Have To Make Change

Students around the nation are talking about the presidential election. I remember my middle school and high school days watching presidential elections and feeling a need to take part in some way, shape, or form. It was fun to have mock elections but I knew that those votes just stayed in the classroom and would not affect the actual vote tally. I would go home those nights watching the local news seeing the individual votes go up and up and up as the polls closed but knowing none of those votes were mine.

It made me feel powerless.

No matter who your students supported, many of them will feel that same powerlessness and want to take some form of action. As history educators, we can use examples of Continue reading Student Action: The Power Students Have To Make Change