Headlines: first Mayan Slave Ship, MLK, Good Trouble, Samuel L... and more

 In the News


Introducing the Educating for Democracy Act of 2020
National Council for the Social Studies



On September 17, 2020, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Chair of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, and Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK), Ranking Member of that Subcommittee, introduced a bipartisan bill, the Educating for Democracy Act of 2020-2021, which would authorize $1 billion in federal-level investments in civic and history education. 

Read the Full Bill Summary

This legislation would represent a massive investment in civic and history education nationwide. It would support new competitive grant programs for state and local education agencies, non-profit organizations, and higher education institutions to develop and expand curriculum, instructional resources, research, professional learning, teacher preparation in civic and history education. It would also require that the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in civics and U.S. history be conducted every two years for students in grades 4, 8 and 12, with state-level results made publicly available. 

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Archaeologists in Mexico identify first Mayan slave ship
Associated Press in Mexico City, 15 September 2020, The Guardian



Archaeologists in Mexico have identified a ship that carried Mayan people into virtual slavery in the 1850s, the first time such a ship has been found.

The wreck of the Cuban-based paddle-wheel steamboat was found in 2017, but wasn’t identified until researchers from the National Institute of Anthropology and History checked contemporary documents and found it was the ship “La Unión”.

The ship had been used to take Mayas captured during and 1847-1901 rebellion known as “The War of the Castes” to work in sugarcane fields in Cuba.

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A Civil War Political Movement Reawakens — Complete With Capes
Matt Dellinger, September 15, 2020, The New York Times

In January, the artist Hank Willis Thomas began enigmatically summoning designers, musicians and activists he knew to his studio in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He was working on something big, bringing a force of history back to life.

“I didn’t even know why he was asking me to come by,” the artist Wildcat Ebony Brown recalled. “It was a bit like a mad scientist-type of situation.”

In and out of the studio in those first few weeks of the year were loose groupings of luminaries like the artist José Parlá; the hip-hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy; Rujeko Hockley, Mr. Thomas’s wife and a curator of the 2019 Whitney Biennial; Tariq Trotter (also known as Black Thought) of the Roots; the restaurateur Tracey Ryans; Carly Fischer, a former researcher at the Whitney Museum; and Eric Gottesman, a photographer and Mr. Thomas’s collaborator on For Freedoms, an artist-led political action committee they founded in 2016.

Mr. Thomas said he wanted the Navy Yard crew — and eventually thousands of autonomous artist-activists around the world — “to set the tone for creativity, and the value of creativity in liberation, through community, through love and commemoration.” But first, he needed to share with them an obscure historical precedent, a story familiar almost exclusively to historians and Civil War re-enactors.

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‘MLK/FBI’ Review: A Damning Look at J. Edgar Hoover’s Attempts to Destroy a Civil Rights Hero
Eric Kohn, September 13, 2020, IndieWire



“MLK/FBI” reveals shocking behavior by the American government, but the most troubling aspect of its revelations is that nobody had to answer for it. Sam Pollard’s sobering and essential documentary recounts the government’s efforts to blackmail, discredit, and otherwise disempower Martin Luther King, Jr. during the height of the Civil Rights movement, by recording his marital infidelities and wielding them like a blunt weapon. However, the most revealing takeaway from this searing overview isn’t that J. Edgar Hoover used every dirty machination at his disposal to take King down, but that most of the country seemed to think it was the right thing to do.

Among the many voices heard, several express awe at the impact of Hoover’s 48-year FBI reign, which allowed him to shape national identity with a racist framework that permeated society at the time, and continues to resonate now. Though Pollard draws from King biographer David Garrow’s book “The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr.,” the filmmaker has created a remarkable cinematic framework for injecting this frightening aspect of King’s story with immediacy.

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5 Black Women Writers Trace Slavery across Genres
Sarah Rahman, September 16, 2020, Book Riot



Although people today say that slavery is a thing of the past, the lingering traces of that history are still worth looking into. For a clearer picture than this article can afford you, there are plenty of slave narratives and documents about the atrocious institution that was American slavery. However, these five books, ranging from novels to poetry, bring us fresh perspectives on what it means for America to remember slavery today.

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How John Lewis’s Message of ‘Good Trouble’ Is Inspiring Change in Education
Yohuru Williams, September 17, 2020, The Progressive



Earlier this September, in Minneapolis and St. Paul, a brave collection of principals and assistant principals banded together to take on the issue of equity and justice in education. 

The members of the alliance, now 159 strong, have branded themselves the “good trouble” coalition after the mantra of the late Congressman John Lewis, who, before passing away in July, wrote a final letter that sought to inspire a passion for activism around racial injustice. 

In his last months of life, Lewis lamented the dangerous and deadly state of affairs in the United States: persistent unjust police violence against African Americans, the failed governmental response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and continued efforts to erode American democratic practice at the highest levels of government. 

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Samuel Jackson Traces the History of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
John Eligon, September 19, 2020, The New York Times



About two years ago, Samuel L. Jackson, the Hollywood titan, was presented with an idea to take part in a documentary
about the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Slavery, of course, was not a new topic of scholarship, and Hollywood had already done a lot on the subject. But he discussed it with his wife, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, and something in particular stood out to them. This was a project attempting to tell the story of slavery in part through the lens of sunken slave ships that never reached their destination — ships that became mass graves of kidnapped Africans. It was a perspective, they felt, that could add to society’s understanding of the horrors of slavery.

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Indian Slavery

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absolute power depends on absolute control over knowledge, which in turn necessitates absolute corruption

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