by Matthew Booker, associate professor of American environmental history, North Carolina State University
I like picnics. Picnics take us outside, to share food with people we like. Those are my three favorite things, and picnics offer all three with a minimum of fuss or cost.
Every picnic is a special occasion. But one stands out because it showed me how much we can learn from deeply observing the world around us. Such observation joins us to the experiences of those who have come before, and perhaps even see through their eyes. It is a humanities experience.
One summer day, to celebrate a birthday, my spouse and I packed up our little girls and…
The first time I had ever learned about Native Americans as a part of history was when I took AP World History. My understanding of Native History grew as a studied AP United States History as well. It was through these courses that I could truly grasp what Native Americans have gone through and the way that their oppression has affected the way they live today. As a woman of color, I could sympathize with the resentment and anger that they feel as they are still treated unfairly today. After learning about the true repercussions of Columbus…
by Steve Oreskovic, Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District
History teacher Steve Oreskovic discusses how he gets his students to empathize with the feelings of injustice among colonists in the run up to the American Revolution, helping them gain a richer context for learning about history.
In this video Marlene Daut describes how teaching literature to college students enables them to both understand their lives and history better, as well as be inspired regarding their possible futures.
In this video submission, Ken Burns recounts how formative experiences, both deeply personal and as a young person growing up in the midst of the Civil Rights era, have shaped his perspective on American history and have informed nearly all his documentary projects.
Ken Burns describes how lines from a historic speech given by 29-year-old Abraham Lincoln have “haunted and inspired” him for nearly 40 years. Expanding on what is revealed in those sentences, Burns discusses how they speak not only to Lincoln’s basic character and optimism, qualities that proved essential to his presidency. He goes on to note that Lincoln’s words, here and elsewhere, are suggestive of what is best in the American character.
In this short video, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns recalls having Robert Penn Warren read a passage from his novel All the King’s Men during the production of the Huey Long portion of his documentary series “Ken Burns’ America.” He notes that it is voices like Warren’s that have helped animate his work, bringing to life his own journey and that which he has tried to share through his films.
by Thomas Scherer, Consultant, Spencer Capital Holdings
Thomas Scherer describes two related encounters which speak to the power of hearing poetry performed aloud. The first is an explanatory talk and poetry reading by the great literary scholar M. H. Abrams at the National Humanities Center; the second is hearing Lin-Manuel Miranda discuss his award-winning rap musical, Hamilton.
In the speech from which this excerpt is taken, Frederick Douglass delivered a powerful argument about the hypocrisy inherent in celebrating America’s founding while continuing to allow slavery. As he notes, “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.”
In a time when wives were treated like property, Abigail Adams insisted that her husband “Remember the Ladies” when writing the laws of the country and warning him, that “If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.” Full text of some of her letters can be found athttp://americainclass.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/AAdams-StudentVersion.pdf