Showing posts with label social justice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label social justice. Show all posts

Saturday, October 29, 2016

(White) Academia Needs Work

Tiffany Martinez didn't need to add the "white" to her statement that "academia needs work." She experiences the power and exclusion of whiteness all the time. For her, the academy is white.  I hope you've already read her piece, Academia, Love Me Back, but if you haven't, you need to.  Anyone working in the academy needs to.  White people need to.

I needed to.  I know, from my own experiences and my own mistakes, that the worst injury a professor inflicts on a student is the false assumption that work they have submitted is not their own.

That is what happened to Martinez.  She used the word, "hence" in an essay.  Her professor insisted that this was not her word.  They underlined "not" twice.  As in, "no freaking way do you know this word."  Not to mention this young woman is a serious scholar  and can probably out-write every kid in that class.

 The damage we can wreak as professors by making assumptions about students, about their writing, about their ideas is tremendous. As Martinez notes, it can set students back, as their own doubts and feelings of not belonging are codified and wrapped in the mantle of authority.  Of knowing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Erasing Labor Day?

A friend of mine posted this picture yesterday:

She took it at her dry cleaners.  It led to a very funny thread on her Facebook wall:

"Someone might need a tutorial on holidays?"

"Police?  Well, they are usually unionized, right?"

"Union organizers! They keep us strong and free."

"My shop steward definitely keeps me safe from management."

And it went on from there.  One person made the case that the dry cleaners' experience was directly connected to the events at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York and  made them, possibly, more amenable to learning the stories of America's labor organizing histories. "History is a weapon."


Several people mentioned American flags flying everywhere in honor of Labor Day.  Here in Tennessee, college classes ran on schedule and even the campus post office was open for half the day.

Labor Day seemed a non-event.

Are we erasing Labor Day from our national commemorative calendar?  Are we in danger of forgetting the importance of organized labor to our history?

It is a distinct possibility.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Tours at the Highlander Folk School Historic Site

My students and I have been busy.  


Sewanee Students Offer Historical Tours of the Highlander Folk School 

If you have ever wanted to learn more about the Highlander Folk School in the Summerfield community of Grundy County, now is your chance to learn.

University of the South students enrolled in courses offered through the Collaborative for Southern Appalachian Studies will offer free historical tours of the Highlander Folk School site on Saturdays throughout April. Tours will be offered at 1 and 3 p.m. April 9, 16, 23, and 30, weather permitting. Tours last approximately one hour and leave from the Highlander Folk School Library on Old Highlander Lane in Monteagle, Tennessee. If you are interested in attending a tour, please plan to arrive 10 minutes before it is scheduled to begin.

Student tour guides will share the history of the site and the vision and ethos of its founders and staff. They will introduce the historic programs and work of the school and relay its contributions to U.S. labor, civil rights, and social justice movements. They will highlight key figures who participated in Highlander's programs, and will explain how and why controversies led to the forced closure of the folk school. The continued work and legacies of Highlander and efforts to preserve the site in Summerfield will be included in the tour.

Dr. Margo Shea, a visiting fellow with the Collaborative, has worked with Sewanee students in two courses, Introduction to Public History and Place-Based Research Methods, to conduct research and find creative ways to interpret the site in partnership with the Tennessee Preservation Trust. (Both courses are part of the university’s community-engaged learning program.) In 2013, the Tennessee Preservation Trust purchased the buildings and land associated with the school, which closed in 1961 and has since relocated to New Market, Tennessee.

For more information, please contact Margo Shea at 931.598.1879 or mmshea@sewanee.edu.



Monday, October 5, 2015

The Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice

Good news!  Nominations are open for the Salem Award.  This is a wonderful opportunity to provide recognition for an organization or individual doing good work to promote social justice and human rights locally, nationally or internationally.

As many of you know, I am a  board member of the Salem Award Foundation, a volunteer-run organization that educates and advocates for human rights and social justice as a way of memorializing the witch hysteria of Salem, MA in 1692.  The organization also serves as a steward for the Witch Trial memorial installation, a really beautiful site that is often over-shadowed by the tourist sham-tasticness of Salem.

the memorial space

For the past twenty- four years, the Salem Award has been awarded to individuals and organizations as a way of honoring the individuals in Salem circa 1692 who spoke up and pointed out the injustices and ludicrousness associated with the witch hysteria.  The organization has also been parter of a larger, city-wide effort to make Salem a city that welcomes and includes everyone.  

Nominations are welcome from the public at large. While the award doesn't always go to a New England-based organization or institution, it usually does, as it is very important that awardees can attend the celebration/award ceremony, which often occurs in early spring. (The organization can't fly folks in from Indonesia, no matter how much we might want to!) Recipients are invited to give a talk on an issue important to their work that relates to the SAF's mission and ongoing educational initiatives.  Turnout is big - it is a great way to get exposure for good work being done. There is also a small, unrestricted cash award to help support the honoree's efforts.  You can find out more about past winners of the award here.

Most important, I can bet you anything that if you take a couple hours to fill out a nomination form for that community organization, youth advocacy group, arts and social justice weekly meet-up, school committee on inclusion or Quaker peace gathering that's been on the go for 60 years, etc. etc. etc., it will mean the world to them.  It will make them feel visible, like their work and their efforts and their ways of loving the world and attempting to make it a place that reflects their values of social justice and openness are seen, heard, valued.  

Appreciated.

In a world filled with silences when it matters to speak and efforts to create change that feel too small to make a difference, nothing could be more important.

Nominate today! Deadline is October 30th.




Tuesday, September 15, 2015

May Ethan Schmidt Rest in Peace. The Rest of Us Should Not.


And twenty four hours later, it is over.
Thirty-nine year old historian and history professor Ethan Schmidt was shot and killed in his office yesterday morning on the campus of Delta State University.  Bright, hard-working, part of a constellation of many personal, professional and public circles and communities...

And now he is dead.  The most recent headline.  The flashiest of victims of gun violence this week.  Maybe.  The week is still young.  You never know.

But, hey, there's a candlelight vigil.  Before we move on.

Schmidt was murdered by a colleague.  All evidence points to this as a deeply personal killing.  

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Honest Talk About Failure: When Public History Projects Don't Work Out

Last year, colleagues and I hosted a roundtable discussion at the National Council on Public History's annual meeting on learning from failure in public history practice.  The blog post that inspired it is here: Do You Have a Problem with the Word Failure?

It was particularly memorable for me because we got to play Failure Bingo, which was pretty much the best thing ever:



The American Historian  was nice enough to publish a short piece on the wisdom that emerged from the roundtable on the ways we might best address failure in public history collaborations.

You can read it here.

Let me know what you think in the comments!