Current Event October 22, 2020
High school students in Colorado took a trip that changed the way history is taught at their school. After the group traveled with their principal to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C., they realized that aspects of Black history were left out of their school’s American history curriculum that they thought should be included. Listen to hear the principal explain how the students pushed for change and what effect she hopes the new curriculum will have on teaching and learning.
Current Event October 2, 2020
President Trump is establishing a new commission to promote what he calls “patriotic education.” Trump objects to teachers using resources such as the New York Times’ “1619 Project,” which addresses the history of slavery and systemic racism in America. He suggests that learning about these issues will brainwash students into hating their country and prefers that the curriculum focus on America’s strengths, such as its foundational democratic principles. Many educators believe that students benefit from examining America’s history in all its complexity, including where it has fallen short of the ideals expressed in its founding documents. Listen to hear more about the battle over teaching history and then debate: Is studying America’s flaws unpatriotic?
Current Event September 1, 2020
The United States Postal Service (USPS) has been in financial trouble for years.The postmaster general implemented cost-cutting measures that are reportedly slowing down the mail system, which is cause for concern among many as the national election approaches, with the expected rise in voting by mail during the pandemic. Listen to a historian explain the important role of the postal service in U.S. history, and why she believes it is more critical than ever to maintain smooth functioning of the USPS in support of American democracy.
Current Event February 7, 2020
Students around the country may learn different versions of U.S. history depending on where they live. Textbook publishers often customize textbooks for different states in response to political pressure, covering specific topics differently. Some say that this is important because different regions have different populations and different priorities. Others believe that all students in the country should have access to the same information and that variations in textbook content contributes to deepening the political divide. Listen to hear more about how textbooks differ from state to state and then debate: Should everyone use the same textbooks?
Current Event December 16, 2019
The first shipload of enslaved people reached the American colonies four hundred years ago, in 1619. Although the event marked the beginning of a system that profoundly shaped American life, the date is likely unfamiliar to most people. The 1619 Project aims to change that by exploring how the legacy of slavery still impacts our country today. Listen to hear the journalist behind the project reveal truths about slavery that schools often do not teach and why the project has personal meaning for her.
Current Event December 12, 2019
Can a first-day-of-school dress or a pair of mismatched cleats reveal anything important about history? The author of a new book argues that examining clothing from the past helps us remember historical moments and view them in a new light. Listen to hear a fashion historian explain how a belt from the Holocaust and an outfit worn by Princess Diana in a minefield can make history come alive.
Current Event October 11, 2019
Congress is debating whether and how to compensate the descendants of African-American slaves. Some argue that reparations, which means money paid to those who have been wronged, would fairly compensate African-Americans for the crimes committed against their ancestors. Others believe that the past is past, and that today’s citizens should not be required to pay for actions that did not involve them. Listen to hear a congressional representative explain how the legacy of slavery continues to impact black communities today and how the government might invest in addressing ongoing issues, and then debate: Should Congress consider reparations for slavery?
Current Event April 11, 2019
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were notorious gangsters during the Great Depression. The Barrow gang robbed banks and stores, led prison breaks, engaged in gunfights, and were constantly on the run from the law until they died in a shootout in their 20s. Surprisingly, Bonnie and Clyde also wrote poetry, and their original poems were recently put up for auction, along with some photographs. Listen to hear excerpts of their poetry and reflections on what it reveals about the legendary criminals.
Current Event February 21, 2019
The state of Virginia has been steeped in controversy about past actions of key elected leaders, including calls for their resignations. Both the governor and the attorney general have revealed that they wore blackface when in costume years ago, saying that they did not realize how offensive it is. Many are not aware of the history of blackface, dating to the late 19th century, when white people would darken their faces and perform minstrel shows, which depicted African-Americans in derogatory, dehumanizing ways. Listen to this interview with a journalist who explains the history of blackface in America and why it remains controversial today.