Civil Rights

Together as One People

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The original project to unite the people of the United States as one people began in May 1787. There’s a project taking place in New Orleans today that reminds us the project continues. The city started removing Confederate statues in the middle of the night. The original proposal to remove the symbols came in the wake of  the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina and encountered countless legal challenges. The time had come to take the statues down. The opposition gathered with Confederate flags and weapons on display. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu spoke eloquently about why this project was necessary…

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A Student Steps Up: Creative Impatience and the Willingness to Act

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As a High School Civics teacher, I am often and absolutely embarrassed by my own lack of civic activism. While I am encouraging and requiring and rewarding my students for getting involved in something – ANYTHING! – that they care about to protect or improve their communities, I nearly never practice what I preach. And it’s not simply that as a young, charter school teacher, my time and energy seem to disappear into an unending vortex of planning/grading/updating/bureaucracizing. OR the fact that as a perpetual presenter of the fair and balanced, I am daily forced to equivocate, moderate and pause…

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What Julian Bond Had to Say about Non Voters and Wings on Frogs

What Julian Bond Had to Say about Non Voters and Wings on Frogs

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Colleagues throughout the years have argued with me about non voters. I’ve heard it from teachers who answer the call to civic duty every day, grad students frustrated with apathetic communities and activists who spend their days knocking on doors asking for one simple act when the day comes. They all tell me that those who don’t vote have no right to complain. First I contemplate this right to complain. I know my colleagues are as true to the freedom of expression as they are to the responsibility of voting. This idea that anyone in the United States has surrendered…

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MLK’s Supporting Vocals

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We’ve all heard the sound clip of MLK’s speech from 50 years ago when thousands joined him and other leaders for the March on Washington. The refrain, “I have a dream” might be even be more recognizable to today’s students than pictures of the man himself. Whatever your social media channel, it has been overrun with pictures and memories from the moment on the mall. There is no denying that those are powerful words that have a power today few could have imagined 50 years ago. Much has been made about the genius of King who improvised those famous words…

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Reading List: The Warmth of Other Suns

Reading List: The Warmth of Other Suns

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If you’ve ever taught the Civil Rights Movement or even had a conversation about it, there’s a book you should read. The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson reminded me of one of my favorite classroom moments talking about the Movement. It also made me re-think what I taught while I was there. First, that classroom moment… It was Black History month and two of my students asked to interview me about the Civil Rights Movement for the morning’s video announcement program. This was not an easy question for me. I was not a subscriber to these (sometimes) empty…

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It’s America and We are One

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Did you see the We are One celebration yesterday? It was a powerful combination of our best words, music, and ideas. From the MLK and JFK quotes you’d expect to Reagan quotes you wouldn’t. I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Mary J. Blige or Jon Bon Jovi but they provided a moving performance with a gritty civil rights classic “A Change is Gonna Come.” Most know me as a U2 fan and it’s Bono’s words that provoked this post. Brian Williams from NBC’s Nightly News interviewed Bono after rehearsals Saturday night. Bono was overheard to say it felt like…

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