Responding to Charlottesville

No Civil War battles were fought in the Hudson Valley, but we are not immune to the legacies of slavery and racism. When school reopens next month words and images from Charlottesville will be added to those students already carry from Ferguson, Staten Island, and so many other places.

Schools, museums, and historic sites looking for ways to address these issues directly or to adapt existing curriculum and programming to new understandings and concerns have lots of help. Below is a roundup of some of the best material. Or, check out #CharlottesvilleCurriculum on Twitter.


Stage Setting

(Graphic: Harvard Graduate School of Education, Usable Knowledge)

How to Foster Humanity as Teachers in the Wake of Charlottesville, Daniel Braunfeld, Facing History and Ourselves

Inaction Is an Action: #MuseumsResist is a Better One, Seema Rao, Brilliant Idea Studio, has worked in and with museums for 15 years

PBS NewsHour EXTRA features daily video and resources for grades 7-12, e.g., How to discuss the history of white nationalism with your students (8/15/17) & The role of media literacy in teaching about Charlottesville (8/17/17)

Talking Race, Controversy, and Trauma: How to open space for reflection and conversation amid difficult events, Leah Shafer, February 2017, Usable Knowledge, Harvard Graduate School of Education. This concise piece focuses on helping students process racialized or violent events and then empowering them to act. Useable Knowledge translates new research into easy-to-use stories and strategies for teachers, parents, and others.

Let’s Talk about Racism in Schools, Rick Wormeli, teacher, consultant, and author, offers “principles for brave conversations” with students and coworkers. He also explores barriers to such talks and ways to overcome them. Educational Leadership, Nov. 2016, Vol. 74, No. 3, Disrupting Inequity, pp 16-22, ASCD.

Learning more

(Photo from Facing History and Ourselves’ blog, Facing Today)

Resources for Addressing Racism and Hatred in the Classroom, MacKenzie Masten — in service programs, articles, webinars, podcasts, books, and more available from ASCD

Resources For Educators To Use In The Wake Of Charlottesville, Anya Kamenetz, nprED

Teaching Tolerance has three articles specifically about Charlottesville, Why I Will Not Be Teaching About Charlottesville by Jamilah Pitts, a teacher in Harlem; and  from staff writer Cory Collins, What Is the Alt-Right and But What About Antifa. For the longer haul, check out TT’s classroom resources and professional development all designed to help us educate for a diverse democracy.

The Zinn Education Project (ZEP) shared False Equivalency of Blaming “Both Sides” by Kevin M. Kruse, Princeton history professor and author of White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism. His Twitter feed describes the use of numerous false equivalencies related to race.  Taking the Fight Against White Supremacy Into Schools, by Adam Sanchez, a social studies teacher at Harvest Collegiate HS in New York City, argues for confronting these issues head on. (Adam presented Teaching a People’s History of the New Deal at this year’s institute.)

And, the title speaks for itself in James W. Loewen’s  Why do people believe myths about the Confederacy? Because our textbooks and monuments are wrong. Loewen is the author of Lies My Teacher Told Me, Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong, and The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader.  ZEP has a wide range of teaching materials searchable by time period, theme, reading level, and/or resource type.

A June post from Facing History and Ourselves, 3 Angles to the Confederate Monument Controversy by Wayde Grinstead, reminds us that the issue that sparked Charlottesville is not a new one. Resources and professional development offered by Facing History “engage students in an examination of racism, prejudice, and antisemitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry.”

More on the role of monuments: Trump Aside, Artists and Preservationists Debate the Rush to Topple Statues, Robin Pogrebin and Sopan Debaug, New York Times, 8/18/17, How Philly’s ‘slavery memorial’ acknowledges a Founding Father’s flaws without denying his greatness, Stephan Salisbury,, 8/18/17. Places Should Be Renamed, Statues Taken Down, North As Well As The South, Alan Singer, Huffington Post, 8/24/17. Broadening the Civil War Picture, Clint Cooper, Chattanooga Times Press Press, 8/27/17.

About Debi Duke