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Posted on Friday 26 July 2013 at 10:47 am

Go me!

Yesterday in my summer class I talked about the Civil Rights Movement in the US in the 1950s and 1960s. I had previously covered the US Supreme Court's 1954 decision in the case Brown v. Board of Education that declared segregation on the basis of race in public schools to be unconstitutional so I began yesterday's class with the response to Brown and living with it in reality beyond the court's pretty little piece of paper. The South for the most part waged a campaign they called Massive Resistance and I talked about the ways they tried to legally and extra-legally get around Brown for the next decade at least. I also talked about the reality that the kids who had to be the first ones to integrate did a great thing for everyone else but didn't get much good out of it themselves. For example, if you were a junior in high school and everyone knew that the next year you would the editor of the school newspaper and you were really looking forward to it but then for your senior year the black school and the white school were combined into one, well, if you were the white kid you would be editor like you'd dreamed but if you were the black kid there was nothing.

Today I had a student come up to me after class. She said she'd of course heard of Brown and integration but that was it; she'd never before heard about the South's Massive Resistance campaign and had never really given any thought to the very complicated reality of being the school kids actually dealing with the day-to-day of integration and she found it all really interesting. So she went home after class yesterday and called her dad who had been a school kid in the 1950s and had moved constantly back and forth between Virginia (the leader of the Massive Resistance campaign) and California. She said she had never even thought to ask him about his experiences before and when she did after my class they ended up talking about it for a very long time and he said his experiences in each place were so incredibly different, that everything in Virginia was far more hostile and volatile and that he tried very hard to keep anybody in his California school from knowing he was otherwise from Virginia because if they did find out he had to constantly explain that he wasn't one of the really angry racists and they would treat him differently. My student also said that her dad said he was really glad she asked about it and was glad he could talk about things like that with her and she was really glad, too, and found it all very eye-opening about the complicated and messy reality of things that are often taught as one sentence in a high school history textbook.

In other words: my life has been validated!! Maybe I'm not just wasting my time, repeating stuff they've heard all through primary and secondary schools, and maybe I am teaching them some things that will stick with them and making a difference in their lives in at least small ways and at least every once in a while!


donutsweeper at 3:20 pm on 26 July 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Oh that's AWESOME!
bratty_jedi at 9:58 pm on 28 July 2013 (UTC) (Link)
chemina42 at 8:54 pm on 26 July 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Go you indeed! Even if you got one kid engaged, that's enough. :)
bratty_jedi at 9:59 pm on 28 July 2013 (UTC) (Link)
One is certainly enough for me!
impulsereader at 4:56 am on 27 July 2013 (UTC) (Link)
You're a teacher! Go you! Way to make a difference! (Sorry, that ended in a cliched manner which really wasn't necessary but seemed unavoidable in a rhythmic sense.)
bratty_jedi at 9:59 pm on 28 July 2013 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! :)

Cliches are fine.
Wine gums, envy, pieces of rainbow
qwentoozla at 7:46 am on 27 July 2013 (UTC) (Link)
That's so cool!
bratty_jedi at 9:59 pm on 28 July 2013 (UTC) (Link)

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