The Voting Rights Act was passed 55 years ago today. A movement that outlawed widespread voting discrimination, particularly for people of color, yet we all must consider the conundrum: have we really moved that far ahead of where we were 55 years prior?!
I'm curious what everyone in the community is doing as a way of not only encouraging their students to make sure that they are registered but also their family members, friends, kids of voting age, etc. Please share it below!
I think we can all agree that exercising this right to vote has never been more important. The fight for racial equality is from over and we must all do our part.
... View more
This summer our college filled three online sections of a six-week intensive Black History course in a matter of weeks. The sheer volume of student requests for capacity overrides led us to add to the number of sections of the full-semester course we will offer in the fall. Here at the community college where I teach students are undoubtedly motivated to understand how we as a nation arrived at current debates about race and racism. Teaching the course has been both exciting and overwhelming because so much is happening in real time around topics about which I’m introducing to the students. News references to “Jim Crow” and “Black Wall Street,” for example, are leading students to wonder about other subjects that were never taught to them in general United States history classes. Keeping the students focused on covering fifteen textbook chapters in just six weeks with the world changing seemingly by the minute around them has been difficult. Try as I might to stick to the course syllabus, weekly discussion boards have inevitably strayed to conversations about current events. I decided early in the first session of summer classes that I needed to try to satisfy both aspects of student curiosity simultaneously -- history and current events. Midway through the first six-week session, therefore, I began sending an extra email to the class each week specifically about current events with links to articles and/or videos to help the students explore a topic that I had seen or read about in the news further. The first link I sent was a “60 Minutes” piece on the Greenwood (Tulsa) Massacre of 1921. My brief email reminded the students about upcoming assignments and then added the link at the end. The cynic in me assumed that my already busy students would ignore the link. Instead I received a handful of emails sharing perspectives about what they had watched. The positive reactions from students encouraged me to continue the practice for the rest of the six-week session. I discovered along the way that a local historical organization had compiled a list of ways that residents could celebrate “Juneteenth” in our state. Sharing that list revealed to my students that Black History physically surrounds them every day -- not only during the month of February. At the end of the course I sent the students a final email that included a list of articles that I believe will be meaningful to the group now that they have completed a Black History course. This list included articles about textbook biases and surveys of current beliefs about the history of slavery. While many of these articles were published prior to the most recent round of civil rights activism that began in May 2020, my hope is that my students now have the historical context through which to understand articles that they likely would not have read prior to studying Black History in a formal course setting. The task of keeping students focused on the past to complete the course goals was enhanced by encouraging them to think about the present. By sending students links to articles and videos I hope that I encouraged the students to look beyond the news sources they might typically read and open their minds to new perspectives. Several students thanked me for helping them sort through “too much” information coming through their social media feeds while others shared articles with me that provided a foundation for further discussion and gave me a window into the news sources that students are regularly reading. How are you balancing the challenge of teaching history and current events this summer? Please share.
... View more
Juneteenth. An aphorism? A portmanteau? A celebration marking the end of slavery? It seems that in a time where the holiday is more widely celebrated nationally than ever before, many questions still remain for a majority of the country.
This is the first time I’ve ever received the day off from work to commemorate Juneteenth. Many are aware of the term, but are hard-pressed to describe it to others. A simple internet search lets you know that “Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.”  However, it does raise questions for many that feel puzzled about why they never learned about this event in their elementary schooling.
Interestingly, the June 19 event in Texas actually happened two and half years after Lincoln’s much-revered (and widely-taught) Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. As I understand it, these 250,000 enslaved people living in Texas simply did not know they were free, either as a result of poor communication in the era and/or, most likely, an unwillingness to inform them of their freedom on behalf of the slave owners.
With the heightened tensions around race and obscured or whitewashed history, it seems like a great opportunity for us to educate ourselves on why this holiday has long been celebrated by so few and overlooked by so many.
Some resources to read up on Juneteenth that I’ve stumbled upon:
What is Juneteenth?
Mental Floss: 12 Things You Might Not Know about Juneteenth
Article: Tulsa still haunted by memory of white supremacist massacre on eve of Trump visit
These are only a few of the resources I found, but I’d love to know what you use to research Juneteenth! Please share in the comment section below.
... View more
We are a third of the way into June and most of us do not know if we will be on campus in the fall. My college is working with the state’s Board of Health and talking with nearby institutions to make the final decision. Teaching at a non-residential community college is complicated by the fact that every single student commutes to campus. While there is no need to evaluate dorm conditions, our administrators have to factor in the reality that students are going to and from home and work everyday, which puts them (and the college’s faculty and staff) into indirect contact with a lot of people. I certainly do not envy the administrators making these difficult decisions this summer. As I have been anxiously awaiting answers about the fall semester I’ve been asked by people who do not teach: does it really matter if college classes are on-campus or online? And the short answer is YES! I do not know of a single college professor who intended to spend her career working with students from behind the screen of a laptop in her pajamas. I truly missed being in the classroom with my students this past spring. I’m eternally grateful to those students who emailed me during the second half of the semester just to say hello or to tell me what movies they had watched over the weekend. They, like me, clearly missed the personal connections that happen in the classroom. What I have learned in the last few months is that even the predictability of the academic semester is not guaranteed. I never expected to not return to campus from Spring Break, let alone be faced with the probability of teaching all of my classes online for the fall semester. At this point I cannot allow myself to contemplate Spring 2021. How do we as faculty prepare for such uncertainty? Right now I’m reviewing the second half of the spring semester to figure out what worked. Specifically, I’m emailing students from those classes that pivoted from on-campus to fully online to ask for feedback. I’m particularly interested to hear whether the materials I linked to our learning management system were useful and accessible (films, documents, web sites, etc). I’m also wondering if those students who had intended to be on campus want more one-on-one or small group interaction with their professors in the fall semester should the classes be fully online. Wifi access was a significant challenge for my students so we did not do any synchronous discussions during the spring semester. I’m curious to know if students missed in-class discussions as much as I did. I would love to hear from members of the Macmillan Community about preparations for the uncertainty of fall semester. Are you hopeful? Frustrated? Please share.
... View more
In his blog post, "Model Voice-Overs," Eric Nelson draws from his experience teaching online to share his perspective on transitioning the world history survey course from a face-to-face to an online environment. In particular, Eric discusses how he has used brief, focused podcasts to guide his students through their reading -- and how these podcasts can be embedded in the e-book in LaunchPad to bring together a combination of the text, commentary, and other activities to engage students. For instructors moving online for the first time, check out Eric's advice for getting started with podcasts using the most important aspects of your current live lectures.
Read the full article here on the World History Association's blog.
Eric Nelson is a WHA Executive Council member and co-author of Ways of the World.
... View more
Listen to our podcast from the new co-authors of The American Promise, Sarah Igo and François Furstenberg. In this episode, Sarah and François address questions from the history teaching community on becoming textbook authors, teaching American history, and the complications of education today.
To learn more about The American Promise or to request an exam copy, please visit our catalog.
... View more