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Teaching Hard History

Teaching Hard History

Author: Teaching Tolerance

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What we don’t know about American history hurts us all. Teaching Hard History begins with the long legacy of slavery and reaches through the civil rights movement to the present day. Brought to you by Teaching Tolerance and hosted by Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Teaching Hard History brings us the lessons we should have learned in school through the voices of scholars and educators. It’s good advice for teachers and good information for everybody.
46 Episodes
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To fully understand the United States today, we have to comprehend the central role that slavery played in our nation’s past. That legacy is also the foundation for understanding the civil rights movement and its place within the history of the Black freedom struggle. This episode is a special look back at our first season. It explores and expands on the 10 key concepts that ground Teaching Tolerance’s K-12 frameworks for teaching the hard history of American slavery.
You cannot teach the civil rights movement without talking about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But it’s critical that students deconstruct the mythology surrounding the movement’s most iconic figure to learn about the man, not just the hero. The real Dr. King held beliefs that evolved over time. A complex man, he was part of a much larger movement—one that shaped him as much as he shaped it. Our new Spotify playlist has even more movement music inspired by this episode. For even more resources, check out the enhanced full transcript of this episode. For example...  These Birmingham News file photos from the 40s, 50s and 60s, recollect the explosive death and destruction at the hands of racists in ‘Bombingham.’  And the lesson “Birmingham 1963: Primary Documents” asks your students to interrogate historical documents with differing opinions about this conflict.(Grades 6-8, 9-12) New from Teaching Tolerance: Introduce your students to the history of Indigenous enslavement on land that is currently the United States with The Forgotten Slavery of our Ancestors (12 min)—along with Discussion Guide.
The Civil Rights Movement was never strictly a Southern phenomenon. To better understand the Jim Crow North, we explore discrimination and Black protest in places like Milwaukee, Omaha, Cleveland and New York. To examine the Black Freedom Movement beyond the South, we examine the Black-led fights to gain access to decent housing, secure quality education and end police brutality in these cities. For more movement music inspired by this episode, visit this new Spotify playlist. Be sure to watch our new classroom film The Forgotten Slavery of our Ancestors (12 min), which offers an introduction to the history of Indigenous enslavement on land that is currently the United States. And here's a Discussion Guide with Text Dependent Questions for the film. The Roz Payne Sixties Archive, a one-of-a-kind digital archive of historical artifacts from a wide array of social movements. In this lesson—"The Color of Law: Creating Racially Segregated Communities"—Students examine local, state and federal policies that supported racially discriminatory practices and cultivated racially segregated housing. And for even more resources, check out the enhanced full transcript of this episode.  
Armed resistance and nonviolent direct action co-existed throughout the civil rights era. In this episode, three historians confront some comfortable assumptions about nonviolence and self-defense. Wesley Hogan examines the evolution, value and limitations of nonviolence in the movement. Christopher Strain offers a three-part strategy for rethinking this false dichotomy in the classroom. And Akinyele Umoja offers insights about armed resistance from his research in Mississippi. For more movement music inspired by this episode, visit this new Spotify playlist. And check out the enhanced full transcript of this episode.
Alice Qannik Glenn is the host of Coffee and Quaq and assistant producer of The Forgotten Slavery of our Ancestors. This short, classroom-ready film offers an introduction to the history of Indigenous enslavement on land that is currently the United States. This new resource from Teaching Tolerance features an extensive group of experts, many of whom will be familiar to listeners from Season 2.
Jim Crow was more than signs and separation. It was a system of terror and violence created to control the labor and regulate the behavior of Black people. In this episode, historian Stephen Berrey unpacks the mechanics of racial oppression, the actions white people took—in and beyond the South—to maintain white supremacy, and the everyday ways Black people fought back. And the directors of the film An Outrage join ELA teacher Ahmariah Jackson to discuss teaching the racial terror of lynching. For more movement music inspired by this episode, visit this new Spotify playlist.  Here's the Gordon Parks' 1956 Atlanta airline terminal photograph that Dr. Berrey describes.  And check out the enhanced full transcript of this episode. It is full of links to resources related to this episode, like this audio of Daisy Thomas Livingston from the Behind the Veil oral history collection about the Jim Crow South, this interactive map of "Sundown Towns in the United States." Or the teaching guide and full documentary An Outrage (free to stream at tolerance.org)
Music chronicles the history of the civil rights struggle: The events, tactics and emotions of the movement are documented in songs of the era. From The Freedom Singers to Sam Cooke, historian Charles L. Hughes explains how your students can use music for both historical insight and evidence in the classroom. For more movement music, check out this episode’s Spotify playlist. And you can find useful resources—like how to bring Beyoncé into your classroom with "Pop Music as Critical Text"—along with a full transcript on our website.
Students don’t enter our classrooms as blank slates. When it comes to the civil rights movement, we often have to help our students unlearn what they think they know while we’re teaching them what actually happened. The people were more complex, the strategies more complicated and the stakes more dangerous than we like to remember. In this episode, historian Nishani Frazier and social studies teacher Adam Sanchez demonstrate the value of teaching the movement from the grassroots up.  You can find useful resources—like Nishani's Harambee City website and Adam's “Teaching SNCC" classroom activities—along with a full transcript on our website. And for more Movement Music, check out the Spotify playlist for this episode.
Teaching the civil rights movement accurately and effectively requires deconstructing the myths and misconceptions about the civil rights movement. Most people are familiar with a very specific version of the Civil Rights Movement that exaggerates Government support and denies the existence and persistence of racism outside the South. Julian Bond called this the “Master Narrative.” It celebrates sanitized icons and downplays grassroots organizing. It overhypes nonviolence while disparaging self-defense and Black Power. In this episode, we talk with historian Nishani Frazier and social studies teacher Adam Sanchez about how to separate civil rights fact from civil rights fiction in your classroom. You can find links to useful resources—like Adam’s “Who said it: Malcolm or Martin?” worksheet (and the answer key)—along with a full transcript on our website.   And be sure to check out the Spotify playlist for this episode
The systems that enabled and perpetuated African and Indigenous enslavement in what is now the U.S. have much in common, and their histories tell us a great deal about the present. Professors Bethany Jay and Steven Oliver join us to talk about connections between the first two seasons and how to teach them, and we preview what’s to come in season three.   
In this special call-in episode, listeners share their stories and questions from throughout season 2—including teaching remotely, working with families and stakeholders, and incorporating social justice into subjects like math and science. As educators, we’re strongest when we support each other. And you’ll hear great suggestions from fellow teachers, like these resources we discuss from Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia: Changes in Population (PDF 800 KB) Dos and Don’ts of Teaching About Race, Culture, and Identity (PDF 130 KB) The Role of Virginians During the Civil War (PDF 1.4 MB) The Role of Virginians in the Founding of the New Nation (PDF 970 KB) And of course, you'll find more resources, links and a transcript on our website.
It’s time for our first call-in show! We know things are chaotic for you and every other educator right now. We feel it too, so this seems like the perfect time to talk. Pick up the phone and dial 888-59-STORY (888-597-8679). Our lines are open until Sunday night, April 19. Teaching hard history is even harder right now, so let’s talk about resources you can use if you’re teaching virtually. Ask us your questions; tell us your stories. And let us know how you’re doing. Whether you work with elementary, middle or high school students or whether you teach social studies or English language arts, the coming months are a good time to plan how you can bring accurate, foundational content about enslavement into your lessons. Tell us how you’ve been introducing your students to enslavement. What have you learned? What can we do to help? And we’ll try to have you on the show next week. P.S. If you like, you can also email us at podcasts@tolerance.org.
Indian Removal was a brutal and complicated effort that textbooks often simplify. It is also inseparably related to slavery. Enslavers seeking profit drove demand for Indigenous lands, displacing hundreds of thousands of Indigenous people. Some of these Indigenous people participated in chattel slavery. Focusing on the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations, this episode pulls the lens back to show how Removal and enslavement must be taught together. This story must be told if we're going to understand the full hard history of American enslavement.
The Americas were built on the lands, labor and lives of Indigenous peoples. Despite being erased from history textbooks after the so-called first Thanksgiving, Indigenous peoples did not disappear. Colonial settlers relied on the cooperation, exploitation and forced labor of their Native neighbors to survive and thrive in what became North America. Focusing on New England, historian Margaret Newell introduces us to the Charter Generation of systematically enslaved people across this continent.
From 1936 to 1938, the Federal Writers’ Project collected stories from people who had been enslaved. The WPA Slave Narrative Collection at the Library of Congress is a valuable resource; these oral histories are also problematic. Interpreting these narratives within literary and historical context, students can develop primary source literacy. Historian Cynthia Lynn Lyerly outlines unique insights these texts can add to your curriculum.
To better understand the United States’ past and present, we need to better understand Indigenous identities—and our classrooms play a huge role. This starts with examining what’s missing from our social studies, history, civics and government curricula. Throughout this episode, we reference the K-5 Framework for Teaching Hard History as we shed light on key topics like sovereignty, land and erasure.  
Educators can no longer ignore our country’s history of Indigenous enslavement. Our students need a fuller understanding of the pivotal history of slavery to comprehend the present and develop a vision for our nation’s future. In this mid-season recap, we highlight key lessons about this consequential part of American history—along with teaching strategies and resources—through the voices of leading scholars and educators featured so far. Resources and Readings Guests Maureen Costello (Episode 1): Teaching Tolerance Eduardo Díaz (Episode 1): Smithsonian Latino Center Renée Gokey (Episode 1): National Museum of the American Indian Christina Snyder (Episodes 2 and 3): McCabe Greer Professor of History, Penn State University Debbie Reese (Episode 6): American Indians in Children's Literature Andrés Reséndez (Episodes 7 and 8): The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America References: Teaching Tolerance: Frameworks, Teaching Hard History Teaching Tolerance: Lesson, Rethinking Discovery Christina Snyder, Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America Christina Snyder, Great Crossings; Indians, Settlers, and Slaves in the Age of Jackson Teaching Hard History, Summary Objective 2 (Colonial enslavement of Indigenous people) Andrés Reséndez, A Land So Strange: The Epic Journey of Cabeza de Vaca Spain, Requerimiento: The Spanish Requirement of 1513 Teaching Tolerance, Teaching Thanksgiving in a Socially Responsible Way The New York Times, Everything You Learned About Thanksgiving Is Wrong Teaching Tolerance, Emancipation Proclamation Teaching Hard History, Summary Objective 16 (Lincoln and the Dakota 38) The New York Times, Lincoln and the Sioux Spanish forced labor, Encomienda Spanish forced labor, Repartimiento Southern United States, Convict leasing PBS: Slavery by Another Name, Slavery v. Peonage And you'll find a full episode transcript on our site.
Throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, the forced labor and bondage of Indigenous peoples was integral to the economic and political history of what became the Southwestern United States. Historian and author Andrés Reséndez outlines the significance of silver mining, Indigenous enslavement and resistance in the history of New Mexico and Latin America. We also examine how, as white settlers moved west, so-called “free soil” states like California continued to institutionalize coerced labor.
A hundred years before the first ship carrying enslaved Africans arrived in Virginia, Europeans introduced the commercial practice of enslavement in “The New World.” And for the next 400 years, millions of Indigenous people throughout the Americas were enslaved through several forms of forced labor and bondage. Historian and author Andrés Reséndez calls this “The Other Slavery,” and his work is changing our understanding of the transatlantic slave trade. Resources and Readings Teaching Hard History, Summary Objective 1 Teaching Hard History, Summary Objective 2 Andrés Reséndez History, University of California, Davis The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America A Land So Strange: The Epic Journey of Cabeza de Vaca References: Ancient History Encyclopedia, Atahualpa Spanish forced labor, Encomienda Spanish forced labor, Repartimiento Southern United States, Convict leasing PBS: Slavery by Another Name, Slavery v. Peonage Interviews with Historians, Brett Rushforth Portuguese slave trade, São Jorge da Mina American Heritage, Columbus and Genocide Massimo Livi-Bacci, The Depopulation of Hispanic America after the Conquest Spain, New Laws of the Indies for the Good Treatment and Preservation of the Indians Nancy E. van Deusen, Global Indios: The Indigenous Struggle for Justice in Sixteenth-Century Spain And you'll find a full episode transcript on our site.
Andrés Reséndez is the author of The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America. His work has changed conventional wisdom about the institution of slavery in the Atlantic World. Over the next two episodes, host Hasan Kwame Jeffries and Reséndez will discuss key turning points in this history—exploring how it expands our understanding of the transatlantic slave trade and the lasting legacy of colonialism, which continues to reverberate in our communities. Be sure to join us. And you'll find a full episode transcript on our site.
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Comments (14)

Maria Ray

Thanks so much for this excellent program!!

Sep 1st
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Maria Ray

excellent!!!

Aug 28th
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Rick Bettencourt

outstanding program

Apr 2nd
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Rick Bettencourt

outstanding program

Mar 11th
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Rick Bettencourt

outstanding program

Dec 24th
Reply (1)

Rick Bettencourt

outstanding program

Dec 10th
Reply (1)

Rick Bettencourt

outstanding program

Oct 28th
Reply (1)

Rick Bettencourt

outstanding program

Sep 27th
Reply

Rick Bettencourt

excellent program

Aug 27th
Reply (1)

Doofan Tor

very impressive!

Feb 6th
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