Current Event February 10, 2016
Traditions and history are important, but in some places that is being set aside if they are seen as offensive. A college in western Massachusetts is named after the town of Amherst, and their mascot is Lord Jeffrey Amherst who was a British General during the French and Indian War. Some say the General is an example of hate and discrimination because he called for giving blankets with smallpox to Native Americans. Some say he was a hero because of his military service. Listen to hear more about how this man’s history has entered into the debate over a college mascot.
Current Event January 21, 2016
The smash hit Broadway musical "Hamilton" mixes hip-hop with American history and features a multiracial cast. The songs celebrate the founding fathers of the United States, primarily how Alexander Hamilton created the foundations of America's modern economy. Listen to this story to hear about how the musical accurately portrays Hamilton’s accomplishments.
Current Event October 12, 2015
Columbus Day celebrates an event from 1492, but it didn’t become a U.S. Federal holiday until over 400 years later. Some people think it shouldn’t be a holiday at all. To some, Columbus did not “discover” America. Instead he represents the beginning of European colonization of America. Some states and cities across the United States are renaming Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day and celebrating Native American tradition and culture. Listen to this interview with advocates who pushed Minneapolis to rename this holiday.
Current Event August 26, 2015
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon Church) has recently provided detailed explanations for how their scriptures were translated. This is the first time the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has published images of the seer stone, the stone that founder Joseph Smith used to translate the scriptures in the 1820s. The Mormon Church has said it wants to be more open about the origin of their religion, and is providing full-color photographs of the seer stone. Listen to hear more about these new church documents that were recently released.
ELA High School
Herman Melville’s classic American novel “Moby-Dick” tells the story of whaling captain Ahab’s quest to kill the white whale Moby-Dick. This somewhat simplistic plot retelling misses the thematic and historical undertones of this massive novel. The novel was a critical and commercial failure when it was released in 1851 but experienced a resurgence after World War I. Listen to learn about the writing of “Moby-Dick” and how Melville was influenced by the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Shakespeare, as well as the tensions of pre-Civil War America.
Current Event July 7, 2015
In June a 21-year-old white man entered a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, attended the bible study, and then shot and killed nine of the black church members. The alleged shooter was later identified as Dylann Roof, a self proclaimed white supremacist who photographed himself with a Confederate flag and hoped to start a race war. Listen to this story to learn how the attack has reignited the debate about the role of the Confederate flag as a symbol of Southern heritage.
Update: South Carolina Governor signed a bill that removes the Confederate battle flag from the Capitol grounds on July 9, 2015.
Current Event June 25, 2015
Why do Americans celebrate Independence Day on July 4th? John Adams himself thought that July 2nd would be the day Americans celebrated independence but he was wrong. What happened on July 4th to mark such an occasion? This story explores the origins of Independence Day and examines the issues of slavery and immigration in the early days of the United States.
Current Event May 15, 2015
The state of Montana is adopting a new approach to maintaining and reviving Native American languages in the state. The state’s new policy, to partially fund native language immersion in public schools, is very different from previous efforts to get rid of Native American language and culture through government boarding schools. Listen to learn more about the policies of the past and present, and why Native Americans in Montana feel strongly about passing their language on to the next generation.
Current Event April 30, 2015
New York City is planning to acknowledge its rarely discussed history in the slave trade with an official marker at the location that served as the city’s slave market from 1711 to 1762. From its founding as New Amsterdam, the city was shaped by slavery. Slaves physically built the infrastructure of lower Manhattan. In the city’s early days bankers and merchants grew rich from their connection to the trade of Southern sugar and cotton, which was based on slave labor. New York’s wealth was so connected to slavery the mayor of New York proposed the city side with the South and secede from the Union during the Civil War. Listen to learn more about the fascinating history of slavery in this modern day progressive city.
Science Middle School
Thomas Jefferson’s vegetable garden at Monticello contains over 300 varieties of more than 90 different plants, demonstrating the diversity of Earth’s ecosystem. The former President and founding father prided himself on his diversified and rare collection of plants. And he never failed to record his gardening achievements in his famed “garden book”. Listen to learn more about the history of Jefferson’s garden and it’s current state following restoration.
Current Event March 20, 2015
As the United States grew as a nation, people moved West seeking opportunity. In 1846 a group of 87 pioneers, called the Donner Party, left Illinois for California in a wagon train. The westward pioneers were trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains from November to February because of heavy snow. More than half the party died from starvation and disease. Some who survived did so by eating the remains of the less fortunate pioneers. This made the Donner Party the most infamous group of Westward migrants. Listen to learn more about the history of this trip from a descendant of a Donner Party survivor.
Note: This story contains a discussion of cannibalism.
Current Event January 22, 2015
Time capsules are used by communities across the United States to capture a moment in time and preserve artifacts for future generations. Colonial leaders in Boston, Massachusetts buried a time capsule under the Massachusetts State House in 1795. The contents from this time capsule have been removed and displayed. Listen to learn more about who buried the time capsule and what they found inside.
Current Event January 1, 2015
In December 1864, nearly 200 Cheyenne and Arapaho were killed by a United States cavalry who hoped to drive Native Americans out of the Western territory. This year descendants of these tribes returned to the massacre site for the 150th anniversary and received an official apology from Colorado’s governor. Listen to learn more about the massacre and its legacy.
Current Event December 20, 2014
Harriet Tubman escaped slavery in Maryland and then used her freedom and the Underground Railroad to free more than 70 slaves. Known as the “Moses of Her People,” Tubman lived a purposeful life fighting slavery. She also joined the fight for women’s suffrage after the Civil War. Congress has approved the creation of two national historic parks, one in Maryland and the other in New York, to commemorate and honor the life of this pioneering woman.