Learning and Teaching about Service Learning: A Model Project about Freedom Seekers

Learning and Teaching about Service Learning: A Model Project about Freedom Seekers

Dana Faye Serure and Michael Broccolo

The College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards advocate civic engagement in which students take informed action as “both a means of learning and applying social studies knowledge” in order to prepare for civic life living in a democracy (National Council for the Social Studies, 2013, p. 59). Civic engagement is also an aspirational learning goal of the New York State K-12 Social Studies Framework (2015). That said, preparing pre-service social studies teachers who are equipped with teaching civic engagement can be challenging especially in our current times with increased political polarization (Hess & McAvoy, 2014), fakenews vs. fact-checkers (Breakstone, McGrew, Smith, Ortega, & Wineburg, 2018; Journell, 2021; McGrew, 2020), and the continued social studies wars – recently evident by President Trump’s “1776 Commission” and The New York Times “1619 Project” debate (Davis, 2020; Evans, 2004; Evans & Passe, 2007; Kendi, 2016).

This manuscript details the process of pre-service secondary social studies education candidates learning “how to teach” as well as learning “how to teach service learning” during a required course project. In addition, pre-service teachers examined social justice from the perspective of Learning for Justice (formerly Teaching Tolerance). The authors are the course instructor and the educational specialist with the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center (hereafter referenced as UGRR or Heritage Center) who offer insight on this topic. The course instructor is a newer assistant professor in the field of teacher education, and previously served as a social studies instructional specialist and classroom teacher. The educational specialist is a social studies education graduate from Institution_insert. He/she began working at UGRR in 2018 as a Visitor Experience Guide, and recently promoted to develop UGRR educational resources.

Being mindful that teaching “how to teach” and learning and teaching “how to teach service learning” with social justice in mind can be a daunting task for any educator. A meta-ethnography of social studies education research pinpoints an un-even score card of pre-service social studies teachers’ capability to internalize democratic education  concepts, such as civic action, equality and equity, and social justice (Tannebaum, 2015). While many social studies teacher educators address these topics and issues, Tannebaum (2015) indicates that pre-service teachers demonstrate a developing competency to apply theory into instructional practice. As expressed by Bickmore (2008) teaching social studies methods compares to making “soup” and all of its “ingredients” with a sprinkle of hope that pre-service teachers will learn to be/become civic-minded, social justice teachers.

Hence, the course instructor believes that the initial methods and materials course prepares pre-service teachers for “doing social studies,” in other words, to develop their social studies purpose similar to a teacher’s creed (Author, YYYY; LaMorte, 2017; Ross, 2015). “Doing social studies”extends beyond content, skills, and literacy; it leads with civics which “enables students not only to study how others participate, but also to practice participating and taking informed action themselves” (National Council for the Social Studies, 2000, p. 31) as critical for pre-service teachers to learn during their preparation programming.

What is service learning with social justice in mind?

According to the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), service learning connects meaningful service in the school or community with academic learning and civic responsibility (NCSS, 2000). Service learning is distinguished from community service or volunteerism in two ways: 1) the service activity is integrated with academic skills and content; and 2) students engage in structured reflection activities about their service experiences. Service learning seeks “to equally benefit the provider and the receipt of the service,” distinguished from traditional service learning as charity work (Furco, 1996, p. 12). One’s service intention should avoid the deficit perspective which dis-empowers the community partner, and instead advocate an asset perspective which aligns with “social justice” or “justice orientated” civic engagement principles(Bringle & Hatcher, 1996; Ho & Barton, 2020; Tinkler, Hannah, Tinkler, & Miller, 2014; Wade, 2000). This approach, social justice service-learning, is encouraged by NAME_INSTITUTION for service learning, credit-bearing courses, which is the future goal for this teacher educator to become a service learning instructor.

Social Justice. For teacher educators implementing the National Standards for the Preparation of Social Studies Teachers (NCSS, 2017) social justice is defined as “(1) a goal for improving access to equity for all individuals in a society who face any type of marginalization; and (2) the process by which individuals work toward realizing this goal” (Adams, Bell, & Griffin, 2007 as cited in Cuenca, 2017, p. 373). With civic responsibility at the core of service learning, and taking informed action to demonstrate civic engagement, pre-service teachers also need to self-reflect on their social justice knowledge. It begins with self-awareness of one’s own intersectionality, such as gender, race, ethnicity, social-economic status, and etc.

In developing the ability to teach and learn about social justice, the instructor and students examined the “Social Justice Standards: The Teaching Tolerance Anti-bias Framework” (Learning for Justice, 2018). The social justice standards include: identity, diversity, justice, and action; and were explored by four online learning modules that the course instructor adapted from the professional development resources by Learning for Justice. Additional class lessons supported student’s online learning experiences by viewing model lesson plans and participating in class discussions.

Overview: High School Methods Course and Service Learning Project. The high school methods and materials course introduces pre-service social studies teachers to social justice and service learning concepts in the first of two required methods and materials courses. At the course onset, explicit instruction centered on the NYS Social Studies Framework (NYSED, 2015), and an array of social studies teaching methods, such as historical thinking, social justice standards (identity, diversity, justice, and action by Learning for Justice), cultural-relevant sustaining pedagogy, taking informed action as advocated by the C3 Framework, as well as pedagogical skills (i.e., lesson plans, assessments, etc.).

In brief, the service learning project assessed a multi-step culminated learning process in which pre-service teachers either developedan action plan to coordinate a service learning experience with a future community partner or created a unit of study (sequenced lesson plans) to support the education platform of a community partner. Figure 1 outlines the development of the service learning course project over the last two years.

Figure 1: Service Learning Course Project

Due to various circumstances each semester (a total of four semesters over two years), the course project took on slightly different versions. Year One was split between a pre-coronavirus semester and a semester that included an extended spring break plus full remote instruction. During the second year only one semester of pre-service teachers completed the project who participated in a model service learning experience with the Heritage Center. This unique opportunity offered students a social justice lens to develop lesson plans that met UGRR’s value of freedom seekers. In seeking a reciprocal action students’ lesson plans were reviewed by the course instructor, UGRR’s education specialist, and collaborated upon to create a single inquiry which applied the Inquiry Design Method (Swan, Lee, & Grant, 2018), and formatted like the NYS Toolkit Project (for examples visit EngageNY – NYS K-12 Social Studies Resource Toolkit, 2015).

Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center

Niagara Falls, New York served as an impactful geographic place in the story of freedom seekers. The transportation routes afforded by the Niagara Falls region aided abolitionists, free African Americans, and enslaved people who crossed the International Suspension Bridge (located in the former village of Suspension Bridge) and/or the Niagara River into Canada (Wellman, 2012).

The public opening of the Heritage Center took place in May of 2018 after of decade of planning by the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Commission. The museum is attached to the Niagara Falls Amtrak Station and housed in the former 1863 U.S. Custom House. The mission includes a desire “to inspire visitors to recognize modern injustices that stem from slavery and take action toward an equitable society” (UGRR, Mission, n.d.). As adopted by the board of directors, UGRR vision is:  

To be at the forefront of Underground Railroad interpretation by encouraging visitors to take action for civil and human rights and creating global change that begins in the Niagara Falls community (Bacon, 2018).

The Heritage Center’s perspective advocates for social justice, such as “identity” and “action” by the language usage and teaching local history. The rethinking of language by the Heritage Center allows us to consider how words and images make us think and feel as demonstrated by exhibits of “freedom seekers” and “enslaved people” who achieved self-emancipation; some aided by others while many sought freedom unaided (National Parks Service, What is the Underground Railroad, 2020;Wellman, 2012).

Niagara Falls was not the only Underground Railroad passageway yet served as a predominant crossing point known as “one more river to cross” and a permanent exhibit at the Heritage Center (UGRR, One More River to Cross, 2020; Wellman, 2012). The grassy space of the museum and remnants of the Suspension bridge is called the Harriet Tubman Plaza, a sacred place where freedom seekers crossed into Canada for their freedom (UGRR, On Site – Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge, 2021). Equally important, the Heritage Center is dedicated to the heroic efforts of many unknown everyday heroes who accomplished extraordinary things. UGRR prides itself in telling freedom seekers stories, for example John Morrison, Nancy Berry, Cecilia Reynolds, and Patrick Sneed (UGRR, n.d.; Wellman, 2012).

Service Learning: Course Project for a High School Methods and Materials Course

As pre-service social studies teachers learn “how to teach,” the aim of this teacher educator is to develop their ability to be “democratic social justice” leaders (Bickmore, 2008). As previously noted this endeavor can be a challenging task as pre-service teachers may be novices to civic engagement and civic responsibility themselves (Ho & Barton, 2020; Tannebaum, 2015; Wade, 2000, 1995).

Project Description and Process

Pre-service social studies teachers enrolled at INSTITUTION_NAME, an urban-engaged campus, prioritizes social justice and service learning at the collegiate level. The college’s Social Studies Education Department is also refining its program to enhance alignment with the National Standards for the Preparation of Social Studies Teachers (NCSS, 2017), specifically social justice and service learning experiences. That said, the instructor addressed these learning intentions by exploring the Learning for Justicesocial justice standards and collaborating with the campus organization, CCE (as previously outlined in Figure 1).

The service learning project was inspired by a fifth grade classroom project called Civic Zines (Kawai & Cody, 2015) and Project Citizen protocols (Center for Civic Education, 1996).

Learning civic action for elementary students took the form of creating an individual current events magazine based on a topic or issue that was civically important to them (Kawai & Cody, 2015). For pre-service teachers, they followed a similar structure to inquire about social justice issues in the community and to connect with a community partner in order to develop a service learning experience. During this segment of learning, course readings included articles about the Inquiry Design Model (IDM) by Kathy Swan, John Lee, and S.G. Grant (2018) and viewing videos on the c3teachers.org website. Each of these resources connected with explicit instruction in the classroom which established the foundational “ingredients” to prepare students for the culminating project.

The initial step to implement the course project was the “What is service learning?” presentation facilitated by CCE specialists and included a class discussion about social justice issues important to students. The process continued with the following tasks: students conducted their own research seeking out an issue important to them, researched potential community partners to collaborate with, and reviewed NYS Social Studies Framework (NYSED, 2015) for instructional alignment with a grades 9-12 social studies course. The instructor reviewed students’ drafts and provided feedback as students focused on writing either a structured action plan detailing the logistics of a service learning experience for their future students or creating an unit design with a sequence of lesson plans for a potential service learning project relevant to high school social studies students. One criteria of the assignment that demonstrated exemplary performance compared with developing performance was planning for social justice beyond the act of charity, or volunteerism (Furco, 1996; NCSS, 2000). Last, pre-service teachers reflected upon service learning as a pedagogical approach in fulfilling their social studies purpose.

Even though the instructor intended to implement a class service learning experiential model as he/she transitioned from year one to year two, some limitations were encountered including the coronavirus pandemic. Collaborating with the CCE specialist, INSERT_NAME, and a former student, INSERT_NAME who serves as the educational specialist with the Heritage Center, a virtual partner was coordinated. The course project took on new meaning as the class experienced service learning through the eyes of a “student” and a “teacher.” The updated service learning project entailed a virtual tour of the heritage site, detailed learning about how language matters with an emphasis on Freedom Seekers, a walking and driving tour of local historical sites, and the option for additional research to develop lesson plans for UGRR. Three out of twelve students created lesson plans which are currently being vetted with the intent to be published on the Heritage Center’s website.

Assessment and Students’ Self-reflection. Pre-service teachers were assessed by four dimensions: 1) Research, 2) Learning Experience, 3) Reflection, and 4) Elements of Writing, see Figure 2 below.

Figure 2: Rubric Dimensions

Student reflections provide insight for the teacher educator and potential next steps in re-designing the course’s learning objectives. In year one, two students (whose names have been changed to protect their identity) expressed the following:

  • Firstly, I like the fact that service learning allows for learning outside of the classroom. I also like the fact that this type of learning shows empathy toward one’s community (Ed).
  • I learned about what goes into planning and organizing a service-learning project…like research to find a reputable place that fits your classroom with relevant issues. Then, how will this learning experience impact the students. I would like to assume that if students understand the problems existing in their backyard…that they would be willing to make a difference and take-action (Rachel).

Both students reflect on the importance of community awareness and empathy as a civic action Second, these pre-service social studies education candidates recognize the potential impact on student learning that service learning can have on their own future students. In year two, this cohort participated in the virtual service learning experience with UGRR, and one student who developed lesson plans reflected on his learning experience as

This semester we had a chance to interact with the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Museum; I found it an enriching and meaningful experience. For my final project, I created lesson plans to focus on using language and imagery, and how they affect how we think, view, and feel about a historical topic, specifically the Underground Railroad. The museum encourages visitors to rethink how we use language and imagery. Some of the lesson plan resources that I used included documents and videos from the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Museum (Don).

The reciprocal deed is reflected upon in this student’s statement as he expressed his own learning from UGRR resources and desired to create lesson plans which aligned with the Heritage Center’s belief system of freedom seekers.

According to the educational specialist, connecting history to the present is a paramount goal of the Heritage Center. He/she explained the impact of conversations between UGRR specialists and visitors, like students, can have when “learners make their own connections with history while UGRR staff help to deepen their understanding and probe more challenging questions” during a Heritage Center experience. Similarly, UGRR specialists, like teachers, aim to engage participants in discourse in order to enhance their learning experience, especially when seeking to take action about social justice.

Next Steps and Conclusion

            To meet and exceed the new NCSS teaching standards (2017), social studies education programs must provide purposeful learning experiences about social justice and service learning in order to develop civically, and social justice mindful educators. In attaining this goal, one potential next step is re-designing the methods course and formalizing it as a service learning course, which would entail:

a credit-bearing educational experience in which students participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and reflect on the service activity in such a way as to gain further understanding of the course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility (Bringle & Hatcher, 1996, p. 222).

Even though not yet an official service learning course, another student’s reflection statement demonstrates that some of these attributes are already in place with the course project. She stated:

During the research stage I learned that there are many organizations trying to help those in need, and a service-learning project would impact high school students in a positive way. I never had the chance to do a project like this and I wish I did (Yvonne).

Yvonne recognizes the impact service learning can have on her future students; thus, indicating the course project’s learning intention were met.

Another next step is a continued community partnership with UGRR. As expressed by Michael Broccolo, “the museum is always looking to make connections with schools and educational institutions; collaborating with service learners offers UGRR an exciting role in sharing its mission and continued advocacy for modern day freedom seekers.” Ultimately, the participants, including the pre-service teachers, instructor, and community partner, found the social justice, service learning project worthwhile.

In conclusion, the notion of doing social studies begins with better equipping future social studies teachers with service learning experiences, including social justice mindfulness. It is imperative that teacher educators continue to focus on developing future teachers as “democratic social justice” leaders(Bickmore, 2008, p. 155; Tannebaum, 2015) in order to achieve the endeavor of fostering adolescents’ civic mindfulness for democratic social justice.

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African American Cemeteries on Long Island

African American Cemeteries on Long Island

Debra Willett

Although there are references to free blacks on Long Island as early as 1657 most of the African Americans on Long Island were enslaved until after the Revolution. However, slavery on Long Island was both less widespread and shorter-lived than that of the South. Day workers, journeymen, or family help were more typical. New York State had enacted legislation to abolish slavery in 1799. The new constitution of the State of New York was enacted in 1821. Under its terms, black males who owned $250 in taxable property were eligible to vote. However, emancipation was neither immediate nor universal. Instead, the terms of the statute called for male slaves to be freed when they attained the age of 28; females, when they reached 25. This resulted in a gradual emancipation that was not complete until 1827, when the last child born into slavery had reached the age of freedom.

After the emancipation, many of the newly freed Blacks established communities of their own around the Island. Some of the early free black communities included the communities of Success and Spinney Hill in the Lake Success/Manhasset area. Freemen also settled in Sag Harbor, New Cassel, Roslyn Heights, Amityville, Glen Cove, Setauket, and Bridgehampton. In the twentieth century, black suburbs were established from east to west along the Island. Many of these, like Gordon Heights and North Amityville, were built especially for a black population. Others evolved into predominantly black communities after World War II, when working-class whites abandoned older areas and settled in the newly constructed, but racially restricted GI Bill communities. At the same time the older communities they were vacating experienced an influx of the emerging African-American homeowner class. By the 1960s, communities such as Hempstead, Freeport, Roosevelt, and Wyandanch had become home to a growing black middle class.

Centuries of spiritual tradition, dating back to their time in Africa, had supported the black community in slavery and in freedom. After the African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in Philadelphia at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the AME church became a strong center for the freemen of Long Island. By the time of the Civil War there were over thirty African-American churches on Long Island, of which twenty-seven were of the AME denomination. In addition, there are several black churches within the Baptist, Presbyterian, and Congregational denominations. Many of these early churches remain strong centers of social and religious life in the African-American communities of Long Island.

Until the 1950s, about 90 percent of all public cemeteries in the U.S. employed a variety of racial restrictions. Until recently, to enter a cemetery was to experience, as a University of Pennsylvania geography professor put it, the “spatial segregation of the American dead.” Even when a religious cemetery was not entirely race restricted, different races were buried in separate parts of the cemetery, with whites usually getting the more attractive plots.

In most cases Long Island followed the de facto cemetery racial segregation that most of America followed until the 1900s. Most African American cemeteries were adjacent to a church that owned and maintained them. Unfortunately, when the communities disappeared so did the cemeteries. The thriving community of Freetown in East Hampton that had its foundation in 1800’s made up of free African Americans and former slaves encompassed a cemetery. This cemetery appears in a 1916 Suffolk County atlas, but by 1930the community and its cemetery had disappeared due to a form of “suburban renewal”. In the few instances of a racially mixed cemetery the African Americans were buried in their own section without markings or a marker that denotes their importance to a specific family. In the McCoun Cemetery on Sandy Hill Rd and Agnes St, Oyster Bay there is a marker that states “Sophia Moore born a Slave.” Most African Americans historically were buried with a marker or a very simple one unless they were part of the military.

Prominent African Americans Buried in Long Island Cemeteries

Flushing Cemetery, Queens County, New York: This cemetery opened in 1853. At the time Queens was mainly rural with a population of less than 20,000 people. The original site was 20 acres, and in 1875 an additional 50 acres was added from an adjacent farm. Flushing Cemetery added a Quaker section in 1860 and was always one of the few non-segregated cemeteries. Several prominent African Americans are buried there. They include musicians Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Johnny Hodges and Hazel Scott. World War I pioneer aviator Eugene Bullard and the Reverend Adam Clayton Powell Sr. are also interred there.

Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong (1901-1971):

Louis Armstrong

Armstrong, a trumpeter and singer, was one of the most popular and influential musicians in America in the 20th century.

He was born in New Orleans and had only a 5th grade education. While working for a local family, Armstrong purchased his first cornet. After an arrest, he was placed in a home for boys where he learned how to play and eventually became the leader of the Waif’s Home Brass Band. Armstrong was released in 1914 and found work as an entertainer on Mississippi riverboats with Joseph “King” Oliver.

After World War I, Armstrong migrated to Chicago with Oliver’s band where he eventually formed his own band, Louis Armstrong and His Hot Seven. In the 1950s and 1960s, Armstrong was an active supporter of the Civil Rights movement. He was an early “cross-over” star appearing on live television. Louis Armstrong’s house in Corona, Queens is now a public museum and Queens College houses a research collection bearing his name.

Johnny Hodges (1906-1970): Cornelius “Johnny” Hodges was a jazz alto sax player and a soloist in the Duke Ellington Orchestra. Hodges was considered to be second only to the legendary Charlie Parker as a jazz great.

Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Sr. (1865-1953): Powell was an American minister and father to the late Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. He was born in Virginia to formerly enslaved parents. He entered the ministry in 1892 and in 1908 became pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York. He often preached against discrimination and was a member of the NAACP and National Urban League.

John “Dizzy” Gillespie (1917-1993): Gillespie was American trumpet player, bandleader, and singer. He helped make the “bebop” genre of jazz popular. Gillespie influenced many other musicians including Miles Davis and Chuck Mangione. His grave is unmarked.

Eugene Bullard (1894-1961): 

Eugene Bullard

Bullard was an American who flew for French forces as a member of the Lafayette Flying Corps during World War I. He was wounded 3 times and earned a Croix de Guerre. Bullard was known for flying with a pet rhesus monkey named Jimmy. After the war, Bullard remained in Europe and fought during World War II in the French Army. Bullard escaped from occupied France and returned to the U.S. where he settled in Harlem and worked briefly as an interpreter for Louis Armstrong. In 1954 President Charles de Gaulle invited him to Paris to re-light the flame of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe. The French government honored Bullard again 1959 by making him a Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur. When he died Bullard was buried in the uniform of a French Foreign Legionnaire. President Bill Clinton posthumously promoted Bullard to U.S.A.F. 2nd lieutenant.

Hazel Scott: (1920-1989): 

Hazel Scott

Scott was a world-renown pianist and singer known as the “Darling of Café Society” for her interpretations of classical masterpieces. She was born in Trinidad and raised in Harlem where she met jazz greats Fats Waller and Lester Young. While still in high school she hosted her own radio show, broke sales records with her recordings, and soloed at Carnegie Hall. Scott was very vocal about racial discrimination. She refused to play for segregated audiences, would not act in any movie that depicted her in a role she considered demeaning, and demanded the same pay as white actresses. Scott was the first African American performer to have her own national television show, but was blacklisted after she was named as a Communist sympathizer by the House Un-American Activities Committee. She left the U.S. for Europe and did not return and resume her career here until 1967.

Long Island National Cemetery: This cemetery is located in Farmingdale, N.Y. It was established in 1936 because the Cypress Hills National Cemetery in Brooklyn was almost filled to capacity.

 Sgt. Leander Willett (1895-1956): Willet was born in Oyster Bay, NY and was a member of the World War 1 all-African American 369th Infantry unit known as the “Harlem Hellfighters.” The unit spent 191 days on the front lines in France, more than any other regiment. 169 men won individual war crosses and two soldiers were the first Americans to received the French Croix de Guerre. Sgt. Willett was wounded in the Argonne Forest offensive when he was bayoneted and gassed.

William Thompson (1927-1950): Thompson served in the Korean Conflict and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. On August 6, 1950, Thompson’s unit was hit with a surprise attack at night. He set-up his machine gun in the path of the enemy combatants and pinned them down to allow his platoon to withdraw and re-group in a more favorable position. Although hit with grenade and bullet fragments, Thompson remained at his post until he was killed by a grenade.

John Coltrane (1926-1967):  Coltrane was born in North Carolina and served in the U.S. Navy where he was stationed in the Manana Barracks in Pearl Harbor where he unofficially played with Navy band. Because the band was all-white Coltrane could not be listed as a member and was referred to as a guest performer. During his career, Coltrane played with Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Johnny Hodges, McCoy Tyner, and Charlie Parker. His former home in Philadelphia was designated a National Historic Landmark and his last home in Dix Hills N.Y. is on the National Register of Historic Places. Posthumously Coltrane was awarded a lifetime Grammy Achievement Award, and the U.S. Post office issued a commemorative stamp. His wife, Alice Coltrane (1937-2007), also was a musician and composer.

Henry Dumas (1934-1968): Dumas was a writer and poet. Her was born in Arkansas but grew up in Harlem and attended both C.U.N.Y and Rutgers University. After serving in the Air Force, he took a position at Southern Illinois University. Dumas was shoot and killed by a New York City Transit Policeman in the 125th St. and Lenox Ave. subway station. His death was ruled a case of mistaken identity. 

Capt. Lewis Cunningham Broadus (1877-1961): Broadus started his military life as a Buffalo Soldier at Fort Custer, Montana. With the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Capt. Broadus saw action in Cuba at the Battle of El Caney. Broadus requested a promotion based in his service, but was denied because African-Americans were not permitted to be commissioned officers. Broadus saw action in the Philippines and was awarded a Certificate of Merit by President Theodore Roosevelt for bravery. During WWI, Broadus was stationed in Hawaii along with several thousand African-American recruits, and his request for promotion was honored. He completed officer’s training at the Reserves Office Training Camp at Fort Des Moines Iowa.

Holy Rood Cemetery Holy Rood Cemetery: This cemetery is located in Westbury, New York and is part of the Rockville Centre Diocese. People buried at Holy Rood include Commissioner William J Willett (1931-2003) of Glen Cove N.Y. native. Willett served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean Conflict. After the war, Willett joined the Nassau County police force and was one of the first African-American “beat” cops in Nassau County. In 2000 Willett was named Police Commissioner of Nassau County, one of the largest police departments in the United States.

Calverton National Cemetery: Calverton is located in eastern Long Island between the towns of Manorville and Riverhead in Suffolk County. Calverton National Cemetery features a memorial pathway lined with a variety of memorials that honor America’s veterans. As of 2009, there are 23 memorials here, most commemorating soldiers of 20th century wars. African American service men buried at Calverton include Isaac Woodard (1919-1992). Sergeant Woodard served in the Pacific Theater of World War II and was honorably discharged in 1946. In uniform, he boarded a bus for home and, enroute, was brutally attacked and blinded. Woodard was one of many black servicemen who experienced discrimination and violence, but his case sparked a national outcry. The NAACP sought justice, musicians immortalized the travesty, and Orson Welles unmasked Woodard’s attacker – police chief Lynwood Shull – on his radio show. No charges were filed until President Harry Truman ordered an investigation, but an all-white jury acquitted Shull in less than a half hour. In response, Truman established a Civil Rights Commission and desegregated the military.

Enemies in Their Own Homes

Enemies in Their Own Homes

Austin Parrish

“I am the grandson of immigrants from Japan who went to America. Boldly going to a strange new world, seeking new opportunities.”  George Takei, a famous Japanese American actor who is proud of his heritage is also proud to be an American citizen.  Just as his grandparents came to the United States, so did many other Japanese people.  They came to seek opportunities and create a new life for themselves. They wanted to live the American dream, and all was well until the day that will live in infamy, flipped the lives of the Japanese Americans.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor the United States felt that the only things that they could do to prevent further attacks on the United States was to round up the Japanese Americans and put them into internment camps all over the country.  This was heavily backed up by powerful figures in government such as the President and the Secretary of War.  There were those who opposed the idea but the overwhelming push for the Japanese Americans to be put into the internment camps drowned out the opposition.  Japanese Americans became an important part of the economy in a few different states and by removing them all so rapidly it would be extremely detrimental to American’s society.  This paper will argue that it did more harm to the United States socially and economically to put the Japanese Americans into the internment camps.  It cost the United States a lot of money to set up the camps, round up all the Japanese Americans and keep them there for a couple of years.  Socially it was detrimental to the Japanese Americans after they returned home from the Internment camps as they lost everything upon returning home.  The United States felt that they were making the right decision and wanted to make the public feel safe.   To keep the citizens at peace of mind they made the decision to put them in the camps even though it would cost the United States.  Even though the Japanese attacked the United States directly it did not mean that all the Japanese people living in the United States were spies for Japan or had mal intent.

Japanese immigration to the United States started around the 1900s and when they first arrived in the United States their economic status was on par with that of African Americans.  There were many restrictions set on Japanese immigrants, making it difficult for them to be economically successful.  They were not allowed to own any farm land or even lease it in a few different states.  However, according to historian Masao Suzuki, due to their culture and solidarity they were able to be more successful and some considered them an “ideal minority”. In the eyes of the American people the ideal minority was what they were looking for in the immigrants that were coming into the United States.   The idea of “ideal minority” meant that they were helpful to society in that they were able to keep jobs and work hard as well.  The Jewish people were also considered ideal minorities because they shared a similar work ethic because of their culture and the society that they lived in.  However, the neighbors to the Japanese, the Chinese were very hard workers but due to their lifestyle in China most of them were looked down upon and would not fit into American culture as easily as the Japanese did.

Immigrants coming into the United States were usually coming for one reason to work.  In the short time between 1900 and 1940 about 90% of the Japanese population that had come to the United States were working in jobs.  Many of those jobs were unskilled, which included things such as farming, railroad work, mining, and domestic servants.  There was also a small 2% of Japanese Americans that were professionals or proprietors and that only continued to increase and eventually by the 1940s it went up to 18%, the highest of all minorities.  The Japanese were a crucial part of the economy in some states.  Even though they were very productive and contributed to society they were still looked down upon in the eyes of white Americans and were still not seen as equals to the other white minorities.  However, on the day that will live in infamy, December 7th 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor everything changed for the Japanese Americans and their lives were turned upside down.  The view of the Japanese people drastically shifted and led the United States to take immediate action.  Franklin D. Roosevelt the 32nd President of the United States created the Executive Order 9006 which resulted in the internment of the Japanese Americans.  This further alienated the Japanese Americans in the eyes of the American people.  Which had a very negative social impact on the Japanese Americans as well as problems for civil rights in the United States.

The attack on Pearl Harbor stunned Americans and President Franklin D. Roosevelt made a speech December 7th 1941 in response to the attack on Hawaii.  Roosevelt stated “YESTERDAY, December 7th, 1941 a date which will live in infamy the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” There was civil unrest among the people of the United States as they were scared of the uncertainty that lay ahead of them.  The main reason behind the President creating the Executive Order 9066 was to protect from any form of espionage, to do this he gave power to the Secretary of War.   He was given the power to evacuate the Japanese Americans from their homes and bring them into military controlled camps.  The Japanese Americans were uprooted from their homes and were only allowed to bring with them what they could carry.  Even though there was much support from influential members of the government for the internment camps there were those such as Governor of Colorado, Ralph L. Carr, who were very much against the idea.  An American General by the name of DeWitt states that “a Japs a Jap… Whether the Jap is a citizen or not”.  This sentiment was the widely accepted view for the American people at that time because of the immediate impact Pearl Harbor had on the population.  This order outraged Carr, who believed that all American citizens, regardless of race or ethnicity, should be guaranteed their constitutional rights.  Even though there was support against the internment of Japanese Americans there was not enough to free them from the camps.

This paper will be delving into the social and economic effects of putting the Japanese Americans into the internment camps.  The United States had done more harm to itself socially and economically by putting the Japanese Americans in the camps.  It will discuss the social changes that occurred when the Japanese citizens were vacated from their homes.  The paper will also take into consideration the economic effects of removing the Japanese Americans from their homes and into the camps.  From the jobs that the Japanese Americans were doing, to feeding them in the camps, setting up the camps, and giving retribution for what they had lost as well.  The paper will also take into consideration the reasoning for the Japanese being put into the internment camps and the possible positive outcomes.

In the years leading up to the United States entering World War II because of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese American population started to assimilate into American society.  Japanese American families made the United States into their home just as George Takei’s mother and father did.  Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor Takei’s family had been living comfortably in Los Angeles and were even celebrating the American holiday of Christmas because they felt as though they were truly American citizens.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor the morning after, the Takei family’s car was smashed and painted on saying “Get out Japs”This act of vandalism shows how the call for internment caused problems socially on a whole other level because the act of hatred made it seem as though all Americans were against the Japanese.  Which was a very backwards way to try and rally the people because it made the Japanese Americans feel as though they cannot be trusted even though in some cases families had been living in the United States for multiple generations. This incident was incited by the speech that President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave after it was reported that the Japanese were the ones behind the attack.  His speech and call for congress to go to action further alienated the Japanese Americans in the eyes of the American people.  Socially for the Japanese Americans they now felt as if they were enemies in their own home, that even though they were tax paying Americans they were considered the enemy.  The claim was that they wanted to avoid something of the magnitude of Pearl Harbor to happen again and they felt that it was the best thing to do to make the American people feel most safe.

The internment of the Japanese Americans was truly unjustified as it was discovered that there was no real threat of Japanese Americans attacking the country.  Under the order of the President there was a man by the name of Curtis B. Munson and he was tasked with gathering intelligence on the loyalty of the Japanese Americans.  His research concluded that the Japanese Americans were loyal and would pose little threat to the United States.  He said that “There is no Japanese `problem’ on the Coast … There is far more danger from Communists and people of the Bridges type on the Coast than there is from Japanese.” The report goes into the different generations and how each of them are loyal to the United States, the first generation of Japanese Americans who are around 55-65 may romantically be connected to Japan but he goes on to say how their loyalty to Japan has been severely weakened because they have chosen to leave Japan.  Munson had written in his report that “they have chosen to make this their home and have brought up their children here. They expect to die here. They are quite fearful of being put in a concentration camp. Many would take out American citizenship if allowed to do so.” This is where socially for the United States wanting to intern their own citizens continues to cause problems for them.  What the United States described as “model minorities” are being attacked and the minorities are in fear of their own government which was reason enough to want to leave.  Even though what the government planned to do was a large civil rights issue, they felt as though they were doing the right thing as there is always a need to defend one’s country.   From the report there was a generation of Japanese Americans that the government did feel they needed to watch.  The younger generation that had been taught their early years in Japan and then had come to the United States however, even they were considered to be no real threat.  This showed that the main reason for the United States to call for the internment of Japanese Americans, was really not backed by much evidence besides that they were being over cautious.  Which leads to the idea that there was a deeper cause for the internment of the Japanese Americans rooted in a racial bias.  If the United States government had truly taken account of the report they could have avoided the social repercussions for what they had done prior to the Japanese Americans being released.  The United States government waited seventy-four days after the attack on Pearl Harbor to take action against the Japanese Americans calling for Executive order 9066 in which the government gave the call to intern the Japanese Americans in camps across the country.

Executive Order 9066 was detrimental to American society because it took away American citizens’ civil liberties. The order was a big step backwards in the case of civil rights which only led to further problems in the future socially for the United States.  The order gave permission to “the Secretary of War and the said Military Commanders to take such other steps as he or the appropriate Military Commander may deem advisable to enforce compliance with the restrictions applicable to each Military area hereinabove authorized to be designated, including the use of federal troops and other federal agencies, with authority to accept assistance of state and local agencies.”.  The President gave the military power to handle the situation and for them to take the lead in putting the Japanese into the internment camps.  Japanese Americans had no intention of revolting but were still going to be put into the camps and the Americans were now faced with interning over 100,000 Japanese Americans and keeping them in a camp for over two years.  This order proves to show that there would be social repercussions for going about this in the wrong way.  By giving the military the job of interning the Japanese Americans it made them feel far more alienated.  As they would really no longer be true American citizens as all their civil liberties are being stripped away. 

The issue for the United States would be that they have to pay the workers for filling in for the Japanese workers but the problem was that the employers now have to pay the workers more money.  This was not beneficial to the businesses and or the economy of the United States as now the businesses could not make as much money.  This shows another way that the United States caused harm to itself for interning the Japanese Americans.  There was more of a negative impact economically for the white Americans that owned the farm and business but also for those people who were buying from them as well.  Since they had to pay the workers more, that means that had to increase the price for the food or labor that was being supplied.  California was highly populated by the Japanese so they were most heavily affected by the sudden disappearance of the Japanese workers on their farms.  

The Japanese Americans at that time were responsible for the production of almost 40% of the agricultural growth in California.  California was hit hard when a sudden disappearance of workers stunted the amount of agriculture that California was producing.  An interview done with a man who had been in the internment camps states that “At 98, Riichi Fuwa doesn’t remember his Social Security number, but he remembers this: “19949. That was my number the government gave me,” he said. “19949. You were more number than name.”.  The assigning of the numbers to the people rather than using their own names was another thing that caused problems for the Japanese socially.  As this was a practice used to dehumanize people and was used even by the Nazi’s in their internment camps.  However, there is no comparison to what went on in Germany and there is no intent to really compare them in any way.  Fuwa was assigned that number when he arrived at the camp when he was 24 years old and when he arrived he saw “Rows and rows and rows of these buildings, We were inside the barbed-wire fence, the armed guard towers. We couldn’t walk out of the enclosure. I might get shot.” He remembered thinking, “Hey, I’m an American citizen! Now I’m the one being hunted.”.  It was noted that they paid the Japanese Americans and that depended on each of the camps but in the one Fuwa was working they paid them twelve dollars a month which was barely anything compared to what they were paid outside of the camps.   This was a struggle both economically and socially for the Japanese Americans as they were losing money while being in the camps for so long, and also being dehumanized in these camps.  They were treated almost as live stock and they had most if not all of their civil rights taken away.  This maltreatment of the Japanese Americans left a lasting impact on these citizens and would not soon forget.

When the Japanese Americans were brought to the camps they were forced to leave everything behind including their homes and business.  They were given time to gather what they could carry and told that they would be taken to the camps to live until they would be released.  The United States decided that they would buy the Japanese Americans homes and businesses from them, however they were paying almost nothing and they had no choice but to accept it.  The United States was able to take advantage of the Japanese Americans once again they were able to buy land and homes from that at extremely low prices.  This caused problems for the Japanese Americans after they had left the internment camps.  They did not know what their future would be like after they had left the internment camps because they no longer had a home, their business, or their job.  This would lead to more social problems for the United States as it was unfair the way they were treated which would lead to reparations causing issues for the United States economically.

This court case is evidence to support the United States facing social repercussions and many more issues.  The first court case was between Kiyoshi Hirabayashi v. United States, which started May 10th 1943 and finished June 21st 1943.  Kiyoshi was convicted of violating a curfew and relocation order.  This happened during the time the Japanese Americans were being put into the internment camps and laws were being enforced against them.  They were not given the option to leave their home and many Japanese Americans did not feel they should have to leave and that is what ultimately caused this court case to begin.  The reason this court case was so important was because they were looking at whether or not the President’s executive order and the power delegated to the military authorities discriminate against Americans and resident aliens of Japanese descent.  These actions that had taken place were violating their Fifth Amendment rights.  This court case goes to argue that the United States was taking advantage of their power and caused problems with its own citizens by taking away many of the Japanese American’s rights.  By having put them in the internment camps and even charging the Japanese for breaking their new laws showed just how poorly this was handled and the error that they made in making the internment camps in the first place. However, the United States government found the President’s actions to be constitutional, claiming that the relocation and curfew laws put in were okay.  The reasoning behind the court decision had to do with the fact that much of the military supplies were being built on the west coast and it would be in the best interest for the United States to make sure the Japanese Americans could not go near them.  During the case they ducked the idea of relocation as they really had no answer for that and really only focused on the curfew aspect.  This shows how the internment continued to cause issues socially for the Japanese Americans and that their problems with the internment were getting pushed aside rather than listened which would lead to another court case that happened a year after.  This court case ended quite quickly as the United States government knew what they were doing was wrong and truly unjustified as seen by the Munson Report.  This issue of relocation would turn into something much more, as civil rights issues were starting to sprout up at this time.  Due to the war however much of this was swept under the carpet only to reappear after the war’s end.  

This case like the prior one discusses the social issues that were caused by the internment of the Japanese Americans.  It was about a Japanese-American man living in San Leandro, Fred Korematsu, chose to stay at his residence rather than obey the order to relocate.  Korematsu was arrested and convicted of violating the order.  He responded by arguing that Executive Order 9066 violated the Fifth Amendment.  The court case was important because of the fact that this was similar to the prior court case in that it was affecting the Japanese Americans in a negative aspect once again.  It showed that more Japanese Americans believed that they were citizens just like everyone else and that they had certain rights that should not have been taken away from them.  This affected the United States in the social end because this angered many Japanese Americans who were very much in support of America to feel alienated and eventually move into support for the civil rights push after they were released from the internment camps.  In an opinion written by Justice Black, the Court ruled that the evacuation order violated by Korematsu was valid. The majority found that the Executive Order did not show racial prejudice but rather responded to the strategic imperative of keeping the U.S. and particularly the West Coast, which is the closest region to Japan, secure from invasion. The Court relied heavily on a 1943 decision, Hirabayashi v. U.S., which addressed similar issues. Black argued that the validation of the military’s decision by Congress merited even more deference.  Justice Frankfurter concurred, writing that the “martial necessity arising from the danger of espionage and sabotage” warranted the military’s evacuation order.  Justice Jackson who disagreed, argued that the exclusion order legitimized racism that violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. There were swaying opinions on the case but ultimately met the same fate as the last one so not much was accomplished for the Japanese Americans but this only seemed to cause more problems for the United States.  

These two court cases truly are some of the stronger documents as they give extremely valid arguments against the relocation and internment of the Japanese Americans.  It is clear to the common people that their civil liberties are being violated and the executive order and curfew are in direct violation of the Fifth Amendment, as the Japanese Americans were not given fair trial before really in a sense being sentenced to jail.  There was no evidence given to be able to do such a massive thing, such as relocation of an entire ethnic group.  They had done research “The Munson Report” that the Japanese Americans in fact were not a threat to the United States in any way.  They had no need to fear the Japanese Americans would do any harm to the United States and even though California had the largest population of Japanese Americans the report showed that even they really had nothing to fear.  They made the claim that they were protecting the production aspect of California and that it is in fact the closest to Japan; this was still not a good enough reason for them to have to relocate.  Even by putting them in internment camps that did not affect the fact that they could still be attacked by the Japanese directly.  It is not as if the Japanese did not know where California is.

Even with those trying to fight for the Japanese Americans no real change was seen until much later on after the war finished with Proclamation 4417.   President Gerald R. Ford’s Proclamation 4417 confirmed the termination of the Executive order that authorized the Japanese American’s internment during World War II.  This took place February 19th, 1976.  This was the first step taken by the United States to begin to attempt to make up for what they did to the Japanese American population.  The President said “that we have learned from the tragedy of that long-ago experience forever to treasure liberty and justice for each individual American, and resolve that this kind of action shall never again be repeated.”.  The government now acknowledges what they had done goes against the ideals of a democracy.  This Proclamation goes into prove the argument that the United States by putting the Japanese Americans in internment camps only caused the society more harm and hurt the belief that many Japanese Americans had about the United States.  Not much longer after that, there were a string of new bills that go onto try and pay back the Japanese Americans for what they went through including the Civil Liberties Act of 1987 and the amendments made to it not much long after.  There was also the Japanese claims act which had to do with both the economic effects as well as the social, as the Japanese Americans had lost everything upon returning to their homes after they had been released by the American government.  

The Japanese claim act was a very important act that was created in order to give compensation to the Japanese Americans after they had left the internment camps.  The Japanese Americans had everything they had taken from them and when they got out they pretty much had no money, a place to live, or a job.  This act was extremely detrimental to the United States government as they had to give up a lot of money to pay back what they had taken from them.  However, not every Japanese American filed for the compensation.  There were 26,550 claims made and each claim was supposed to be given about $20,000.   Which ended up being around 36 million in reparations paid which in today’s money is a little over 4 billion dollars.  While this was not a huge sum of money, it was still a lump sum that could have been used in other ways besides having to pay reparations.  These payments not only affected them economically but impacted them socially as well.  This was really not enough money to give back to the Japanese Americans as they had lost everything and $20,000 would not buy back their homes, business and cars.

The Civil Liberties Act of 1987 was introduced January 1st, 1987 and was done by the House and the Judiciary branches of the government.  These two were the committee responsible for the law.  The Act declares a few different things including that  a grave injustice was done to citizens and permanent resident aliens of Japanese ancestry by the evacuation, relocation, and internment of civilians during World War II; (2) these actions were without security reasons and without any acts of espionage or sabotage documented by the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, and were motivated by racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political leadership; (3) the excluded individuals suffered enormous damages for which appropriate compensation has not been made; and (4) the Congress apologizes on behalf of the Nation.

The United States was faced with a difficult decision after the infamous day of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  However, the choice they made to intern the Japanese Americans had far more negative effects than they originally thought.  It affected the United States both socially and economically, while it did not affect it as economically as originally believed it still had a negative impact on the United States.   The United States was able to take advantage of the field work that the Japanese Americans were doing by selling excess crops and food to the free market while this did help the government.  It really only harmed the common American farmer who had lost workers to go work on other farms.  They also took advantage of the fact, that after they would be released, they now knew of more government owned farm land that they could use or sell. The real effect was felt socially by the Japanese Americans until reparations and acts had been put into place to make up for what had been done.  The United States government going on to openly say what they had done back then was wrong and to try and amend for what they had done strengthens the argument that they had done more harm both economically and socially to the United States.

References:

Daniels, R. (2004). Prisoners without trial: Japanese Americans in World War II. Hill and Wang.

Legal Information Institute. (n.d.). Toyosaburo Korematsu v. United States vol. 22, 11 Oct. 1944. Retrieved from www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/323/214.

Morehouse, L., and Fuwa, R. (2017). Farming behind barbed wire: Japanese-Americans remember WWII incarceration. NPR. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/02/19/515822019/farming-behind-barbed-wire-japanese-americans-remember-wwii-incarceration

Munson, C.B. (1941). Munson Report. Retrieved from https://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/active_learning/explorations/japanese_internment/munson_report.cfm

Nagata, D. (2015). Processing cultural trauma: Intergenerational effects of the Japanese American incarceration. Journal of Social Issues, 71 (2), 356-370.

Parrish, A.E., and Cole, H.L. (1999). The Great Depression in the United States from a neoclassical perspective. Quarterly Review, 23 (1).

Ray, M. (2018). Executive Order 9066. Britannica.  Retrieved from www.britannica.com/topic/Executive-Order-9066.

Robinson, G. (2003). By order of the president: FDR and the internment of Japanese Americans. Harvard University Press.

Robinson, G. (2011). A tragedy of democracy: Japanese confinement in North America. Columbia University Press.

Suzuki, M. (2002). Selective immigration and ethnic economic achievement: Japanese Americans before World War II. Explorations in Economic History, 39 (3), 254–277.

Takei, G. (2020). They called us enemy. Top Shelf Productions.

Taylor, S.C. (2013). Japanese Americans, From Relocation to Redress. University of Washington Press: Seattle, WA.

U.S. Bureau of the Census. (1904), Occupations at the twelfth census. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

The Teachable Idols of the ’60s: Their March Toward Civil Equality

The Teachable Idols of the ‘60’s: Their March towards Civil Equality

Thomas Colantino

2020 will be stamped in history books worldwide. You always wonder when analyzing history what it was like to live in some of the most chaotic time periods. I guess you never realize what it’s like living through history when it is happening around you every day. Teaching history relies on this idea of perspective. Students must be able to not only comprehend the content, but also be able to focus through another lens, which is the ability to put themselves in the situation that is being taught. I feel as though the best way to achieve this is through student engagement. The most important question in education is how to get students to be engaged with the material and to learn the lessons accordingly? For myself, the philosophy is you have to find ways to relate or spark the interests of the student. Schooling, in a repetitive manner can become exceedingly dull and classes can become white noise to students, ESPECIALLY, in the world we live in today. With virtual learning students are partaking in classes sometimes still in bed. There is a plethora of distractions when working from home, so as the educator, the objective is to make the class not only packed with content, but also have the ability to intrigue the students.

            For myself, the best way to pique the interest of students would be to somehow combine a mutual interest and find it in history, or how at least it could correlate. I feel as though my capstone is this happy medium. The entertainment business, of any kind reaches a wide variety of people. Whether it be through film, art, music, or athletics, one of the many outlets connects with someone. So, why wouldn’t you try and incorporate the entertainment business into a lesson. If you could show history through entertainment, potentially students would be more interested to learn that lesson. My capstone centers around the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s, one of the most crucial topics of not only modern America, but American history in general. Yet, with a little twist, I focus on the celebrities of the time period, and how they were able to utilize their platforms to promote change. Not only just working for activists, but also alongside them. With many of the unfortunate events that had transpired over the course of the year in relation to social issues, it was interesting to see which individuals were on the forefront fighting the battle and protesting in the street. In several different cities around the country, several different actors, athletes, etc., flooded the streets with the general civilian voicing their wants and desires. For students, seeing their favorite athlete or musician voicing their opinion for change, could change the student’s perspective and raises interests. As a result, this idea can be depicted also for the Civil Rights Movement. By finding celebrities that chose to fight for the Civil Rights Movement, it creates another avenue for students to stay engaged with the material.

            So how would one go about collaborating the important material in regards of the history aspect of the Civil Rights Movement, and also sparking the interest of students through the entertainment of the era. For myself, I start with the true trailblazers, the ones that’s actions outside of their own profession spoke louder than those within their respected fields. One of the obvious names to start with in this case is Jackie Robinson. Now, Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, well before the 1960s and its decade of civil rights activism, but every lesson has a background section, no? To Segway to a historical standpoint, around this same era, dealing with the same kind of circumstance, Executive Order 9981 (1948), the desegregation of the military declared by President Harry Truman. See, there are connections that can be made. In terms of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s itself, the individuals to stick with are those who worked closely with the activists of the era. Someone like Harry Belafonte, singer by day, activist by night, had a loft in New York City where activists would meet to create rally plans and protests to promote change. Even the idea of the stories that could be shared of activists and celebrities would be intriguing enough for students to work with the material. The overall argument here is that there is knowledge that can be learned from these celebrities and their work towards promoting civil equality.

            To conclude, there were similar arguments I attempted to prove that could be utilized within the classroom. I tried analyzing media sources such as newspapers to see the perception of historical events. The objective here was to see how the events were written and perceived by the general public. This idea derives from how medias portrayal of an event can alter an individual’s viewpoint of that situation.  The influence of the public can be changed through how the media covers the situation. This idea of an influence can also be seen in comparison to those of celebrities and their aurora. Celebrity platforms reach a wide variety of individuals. The way they speak and carry themselves can and does influence their fans. The idea here that I try to create with the Civil Rights Movement is that if the celebrities preach change, then their fans will want change. In closing, the main argument of this work is how important student engagement is. Yes, we bounce around the ideas that are focused within my capstone, but the reason for its importance is how it can provoke interest in students. Every child is entertained by a commodity of life. Why not, as teachers, add the entertainment factor to the classroom and connect it with your lessons? Throughout history there are other aspects that connect history to everyday life. As an example, when teaching the Renaissance, generally professors and educators utilize the art aspect of the movement to pique the interest of their students. The colors, pictures, paintings, etc. help the class visualize the era. How about when teaching the Civil Rights Movement, add the sounds of Bob Dylan and Harry Belafonte, with the words of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X to see the similarities—or just as importantly the differences? Or add the movement of one Muhammad Ali in and outside the ring with the movement of protest marches for civil justice and voting rights in the South during the early stages of Civil Rights Movement. There are many ways to connect, it just takes thinking outside the box to not only teach, but to entertain.

The Soul of America by Jon Meacham

Reviewed by Hank Bitten
NJCSS Executive Director

Jon Meacham captures the ‘big picture’ of America’s story in his book, The Soul of America (2018). It’s importance for teachers and students is significant because many of our institutions and principles are currently being questioned and attacked. The Soul of America captures the challenges Americans have experienced throughout our history, identifies the voices who have kept the American people faithful to democratic values and provides references to presidents whose leadership shaped America’s soul.   This book is timely as we are living in dangerous times with divisive statements every day and mass shootings every week.

The opening paragraphs prioritize the importance of presidential leadership in times of uncertainty or crisis: “To do so requires innumerable acts of citizenship and of private grace.  It will require, as it has in the past, the witness and the bravery of reformers who hold no office and who have no traditional power but who yearn for a better, fairer way of life. And it will also require, I believe, a president of the United States with a temperamental disposition to speak to the country’s hopes rather than to its fears.” (11)

Our representative democracy has faced challenges from events, extremists, political parties, and presidents during the past 220 years. The American soul and spirit have been tested with the Alien and Sedition Acts, Nullification crisis, Know Nothing Party, racism, the Great Depression, world wars, and the Attack on America.  The American soul has been positively influenced during challenging times by speeches, books, newspapers, radio, television, films, and social media.  Although we are a diverse, and at times a divided population, we share a common DNA that is at risk to genetic mutations by outside influences.

One of the significant contributions in this book is its perspective on the American Dream during times when it was challenged by racism, sexism, and economic depressions.  In each of the seven chapters there are applications for classroom lessons and debates.  Our students learn about the role of government through conflicts, reforms, legislation and presidential visions through the Square Deal, New Freedom, New Deal, Fair Deal, and New Frontier. The first years of the 20th century were times of prosperity and depression, war and peace, an incapacitated president and the death of four presidents in office, and the expansion and restriction on who can vote. These are applications for the first quartile of the 21st century.

In the 1920s the Ku Klux Klan spoke to millions of Americans in both rural and urban areas who wanted conservative values, restrictions on immigration, and an exclusive society for some Americans. The Ku Klux Klan addressed these issues, blamed socialism on immigrants, and found a comfortable place in the Democratic Party of William Jennings Bryan. Hiram Wesley Evans, the imperial wizard of the Klan, spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Madison Square Garden in 1924: “The Klan, alone, supplies this leadership…. The blood which produces human leadership must be protected from inferior blood…. You are the superior blood.  You are more-you are leaders in the only movement in the world, at present, which exists solely to establish a civilization that will insure these things.  Klansmen and Klanswomen are verily ‘the salt of the earth,’ upon whom depends the future of civilization.”  (Hiram Wesley Evans, imperial wizard spoke these words in 1924 in Madison Square Garden at the Democratic National Convention)

To understand the divisive words above in the context of the poetic words “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” in the sonnet, The New Colossus, by Emma Lazarus, teachers should consider having their students participate in the following:

  • Have your students explain how and why the Klan evolved into a national organization after World War I from a regional organization in the South after the Civil War? 
  • Have your students cite examples of how the Klan used propaganda and the media to influence Americans and increase their membership. 
  • Have your students research the voices who spoke out against the Klan and for an inclusive society for all people.

The Klan became masters of propaganda or fake news in the 20th century with the popular commercial film, Birth of a Nation in 1915.  The influence of films, radio, and speeches at rallies have a powerful impact on the soul of Americans and their views on groups of people who become scapegoats as they were blamed for things they had no control over. The Klan meddled in the presidential elections of 1920 and 1924. Jon Meacham provides resources for teachers and students with the example of the campaign to defame President Warren G. Harding with fake news that “documented” his ancestors were black. (129)  At a time when Harding could have unleashed a tirade over the radio or in the newspapers, he met the allegations with dignified public silence.  There were also reports of his initiation as a member of the Klan in the dining room of the White House and that half of the elected representatives in Congress were Klan members! (130)  These were dangerous times.

William R. Pattangall, a politician from Maine running for governor, was one voice who explicitly denounced the Klan at the Democratic National Convention in New York City in 1924. “I say to you, that there is need to be sent over the whole wide United States a message…that our party hates bigotry, hates intolerance; opposes bigotry and opposes intolerance; and because it hates them and hates hypocrisy and opposes them, it therefore calls bigoty and intolerance and hypocrisy by their right names when it speaks of them.” In times when fear overcomes our American spirit, other voices need to speak for the rights and freedom of all citizens. There are many examples for teachers in The Soul of America of voices that speak of inclusion, freedom of equality and the rule of law in our Constitution.  Our students need to hear these voices!

In 1952 Margaret Chase Smith, also from Maine, spoke on the Senate floor against the wave of fear that Senator Joseph McCarthy promoted.  “I think that it is high time that we remembered that we have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution.  I think that it is high time that we remembered that the Constitution, as amended, speaks not only of the freedom of speech but also of trial by jury instead of trial by accusation…

Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all too frequently those who, by our own words and acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism:

The right to criticize;

The right to uphold unpopular beliefs;

The right to protest;

The right to independent thought.

The Soul of America is filled with powerful quotations that teachers can select and organize into evidence packages for students to read, discuss, and form a conclusion.  The Soul of America includes selected quotes from speeches and literature as far back as 1789. These short quotes can be researched in the complete context of documents readily available online in presidential libraries, the Miller Center, The Library of Congress, and other resources. Here are several examples of Evidence Packages that will guide students in understanding the big picture of the challenges Americans experienced in the past 100 years. The examples below provide a context for the power of words and rhetoric for deeper inquiry and student engagement into history.

Evidence Package on The Great Depression:

  1. “In the summer of 1932, Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York had told an adviser that the two most dangerous men in America were Huey Long of Louisiana and Douglas MacArthur, the army chief of staff.  Long, the powerful Louisiana “kingfish,” could conceivably orchestrate a coup from the populist left, and MacArthur might manage the same feat from the right.”  (138, A few weeks before his inauguration, there was an assassination attempt on FDR and the mayor of Chicago in Miami, Florida by Zangara, an anarchist.
  2. “Where is the middle class today?” “Where is the corner groceryman, about whom President Roosevelt speaks?  He is gone or going.  Where is the corner druggist?  He is gone or going.  Where is the banker of moderate means?  He is vanishing…. The middle class today cannot pay the debts they owe and come out alive.” (143, Huey Long)
  3. “We have perfected techniques in propaganda and press and radio control which should make the United States the easiest country in the world to indoctrinate with any set of ideas, and to control for any physically possible ends.”  “Diversity – political, racial, religious, ethnic – was the enemy.’  Undoubtedly the easiest way to unite and animate large numbers in political association for action is to exploit the dynamic forces of hatred and fear.” (144, Lawrence Dennis, author from Georgia)
  4. “The GOP, Truman said, was more interested in partisan advantage than in national security. For political background, the Republicans have been trying vainly to find an issue on which to make a bid for the control of Congress for next year… They tried statism.  They tried ‘welfare state.’  They tried ‘socialism.’  And there are a certain number of members of the Republican party who are trying to dig up that old malodorous dead horse called ‘isolationism.’  And in order to do that, they are perfectly willing to sabotage the bipartisan foreign policy of the United States.” (188-89, Truman speech on March 30, 1950 in Key West, FL)

Evidence Package on Civil Rights Movement:

  1. “If on Judgment Day I were summoned by St. Peter to give testimony to the used-to-be sheriff’s act of kindness, I would be unable to say anything in his behalf.  His confidence that my uncle and every other Black man who heard of the Klan’s coming ride would scurry under their houses to hide in chicken droppings was to humiliating to hear.” (215, Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.  A reference to a warning to her uncle about a visit from the Klan)
  2. “You know, we just can’t keep colored folk down like we been doin’ around here for years and years,” Wallace told a Sunday School teacher at his church. “We got to quit.  We got to start treatin’ ‘em right. They just like everybody else.”  (218, Words of Gov. George Wallace, AL spoken shortly after World War 2, about 15 years before he was elected governor.)
  3. “In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny and I say…segregation now…segregation tomorrow…segregation forever.” (219, Gov. George Wallace, AL)
  • Yet Wallace failed.  The Kennedy Justice Department enforced the court order and the university was integrated.  On the evening of the day federal officials compelled Wallace to stand aside, President Kennedy spoke to the nation.

“Today, we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. This is not a sectional issue.  Difficulties over segregation and discrimination exist in every city, in every State of the Union, producing in many cities a rising tide of discontent that threatens the public safety.  Nor is this a partisan issue…. We are confronted primarily with a moral issue.  It is as old as the Scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution.” (220, President Kennedy)

  • “Well, you know, John, the other day a sad thing happened.  Helen Williams and her husband, Gene, who are African Americans and have been working for me for many years, drove my official car from Washington down to Texas, the Cadillac limousine of the vice-president of the United States.  They drove through your state, and when they got hungry they stopped at grocery stores on the edge of town in colored areas and bought Vienna sausage and beans and ate them with a plastic spoon.  And when they had to go to the bathroom, they would stop, pull off on a side road, and Helen Williams, an employee of the vice-president of the United States, would squat on the road to pee.  And you know, John, that’s just bad.  That’s wrong.  And there ought to be something to change that. And it seems to me that if the people in Mississippi don’t change it voluntarily, that it’s just going to be necessary to change it by law.” (221, President Johnson statement to Senator John Stennis, Mississippi)
  • “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” (225, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

  • “Yes, yes, Hubert, I want all those other things – buses, restaurants, all of that – but the right to vote with no ifs, ands, or buts, that’s the key.” (231, Civil Rights Act of 1964)
  • “The march of 1965 injected something very special into the soul and the heart and the veins of America.  It said, in effect, that we must humanize our social and political and economic structure.  When people saw what happened on that bridge, there was a sense of revulsion all over America. 

Revulsion, then redemption: In the final analysis, we are one people, one family, one house-not just the house of black and white, but the house of the South, the house of America.” (238, Rep. John Lewis, GA, Bloody Sunday. March 7, 1965)

“The issue of equal rights for American negroes is such an issue.  And should we defeat every enemy, should we double our wealth and conquer the stars, and still be unequal to this issue, then we will have failed as a people and as a nation. 

For with a country as with a person, ‘What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’” (241, Speech by President Lyndon Johnson to the nation, March 15, 1965)

The Soul of America is an important resource for history teachers, a powerful story for your students, and opened my mind to a deeper understanding of why the politics of today need the voices of teachers and professors to advocate for the liberties and rights we, both citizens and immigrants within the United States, have by law.

The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and its Impact

The Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and Its Impact

by Megan Bernth with Kyle Novak

Martin-Luther-King-Assassinted-New-York-Times-April-5-1968

The life, ideas, and achievements of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. enter the curriculum during an examination of the African American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s or if a school commemorates his birthday or Black History Month. Reverend King’s impact on the United States continued after he was assassinated on April 4, 1968 because his ideas lived on and his achievements continued to influence people. His assassination also contributed to the racial divide in the United States, as African American communities exploded in anger. The material in this curriculum package focuses on the immediate response to his murder, testimonials and rioting, controversy about his killer, and King’s long-term legacy. Material in the package includes photographs, videos, quotes, and compelling questions. As a culminating activity, the students read three quotes statements by Reverend King that discuss his ideas of nonviolence and passive civil resistance, compare them to examples of contemporary protests, and consider the implications of Reverend King’s ideas for today.

Hobbs-Lorraine-Motel-Martin-Luther-King


Background: In early April of 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was visiting Memphis, Tennessee to support a sanitation workers’ strike. He had faced mounting criticisms from young Blacks who thought his nonviolent attitude was doing their cause a disservice. It was because of these criticisms he had begun moving his support beyond blacks to all poor Americans and those who opposed the Vietnam War. While standing on a balcony the evening of April 4, a sniper shot and killed him. James Earl Ray was eventually arrested and convicted of the crime.

Martin Luther King Is Slain in Memphis; A White is Suspected; Johnson Urges Calm

By Early Caldwell, New York Times, April 5, 1968, p. 1

Memphis, Friday, April 5 – The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who preached nonviolence and racial brotherhood, was fatally shot here last night by a distant gunman who raced away and escaped. Four thousand National Guard troops were ordered into Memphis by Gov. Buford Ellington after the 39-year-old Nobel Prize-winning civil rights leader died. A curfew was imposed on the shocked city of 550,000 inhabitants, 40 per cent of whom are Negro. But the police said the tragedy had been followed by incidents that included sporadic shooting, fires, bricks and bottles thrown at policemen, and looting that started in Negro districts and then spread over the city.

Police Director Frank Holloman said the assassin might have been a white man who was “50 to 100 yards away in a flophouse.” Chief of Detectives W.P. Huston said a late model white Mustang was believed to have been the killer’s getaway car. Its occupant was described as a bareheaded white man in his 30’s, wearing a black suit and black tie.

A high-powered 30.06-caliber rifle was found about a block from the scene of the shooting, on South Main Street. “We think it’s the gun,” Chief Huston said, reporting it would be turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Dr. King was shot while he leaned over a second-floor railing outside his room at the Lorraine Motel. He was chatting with two friends just before starting for dinner. Paul Hess, assistant administrators at St. Joseph’s Hospital, where Dr. King died despite emergency surgery, said the minister had “received a gunshot wound of the right side of the neck, at the root of the neck, a gaping wound.” In a television broadcast after the curfew was ordered here, Mr. Holloman said, “rioting has broken out in parts of the city” and “looting is rampant.” Dr. King had come back to Memphis Wednesday morning to organize support once again for 1,300 sanitation workers who have been striking since Lincoln’s Birthday. Just a week ago yesterday he led a march in the strikers’ cause that ended in violence. A 16-year-old Negro was killed, 62 persons were injured and 200 were arrested.

Policemen were pouring into the motel area, carrying rifles and shotguns and wearing helmets. But the King aides said it seemed to be 10 or 15 minutes before a fire Department ambulance arrived. Dr. King was apparently still living when he reached the St. Joseph’s Hospital, operating room for emergency surgery. He was borne in on a stretcher, the bloody towel over his head. It was the same emergency room to which James H. Meredith, first Negro enrolled at the University of Mississippi, was taken after he was ambushed and shot in June 1965, at Hernando, Miss., a few miles south of Memphis; Mr. Meredith was not seriously hurt.

Questions:

  1. What does the New York Times report in the headline?
  2. How is Dr. King described in the article?
  3. In your opinion, why did cities declare curfews following Dr. King’s assassination?
  4. Why was Dr. King in Memphis?

President’s Plea, On TV, He Deplores “Brutal” Murder of Negro Leader

New York Times, April 5, 1968, p. 1

President Johnson deplored tonight in a brief television address to the nation the “brutal slaying” of the Re. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He asked “every citizen to reject the blind violence that has struck Dr. King, who lived by nonviolence.” Mr. Johnson said he was postponing his scheduled departure tonight for a Honolulu conference on Vietnam and that instead he would leave tomorrow. The President spoke from the White House. At the Washington Hilton Hotel, where Democratic members of Congress had gathered to honor the President and Vice President, Mr. Humphrey, his voice strained with emotion, said: “Martin Luther King stands with other American martyrs in the cause of freedom and justice. His death is a terrible tragedy.”

Questions:

  1. How did President Johnson react to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.?
  2. Why did Vice President Humphrey describe Dr. King as one of the “American martyrs in the cause of freedom and justice”?

A Conversation with Dr. King

MLK
  1. Where do the ideas of non-violent civil disobedience come from?

“From the beginning a basic philosophy guided the (civil rights) movement. This guiding principle has since been referred to variously as non-violent resistance, non-cooperation, and passive resistance. But in the first days of protest none of these expressions were mentioned; the phrase most often heard was “Christian love.” . . . It was Jesus of Nazareth that stirred the Negroes to protest with the creative weapon of love. As the days unfolded, however, the inspiration of Mahatma Gandhi (a leader in the struggle for independence in India) began to exert its influence. I had come to see early that the Christian doctrine of love operating through the Gandhian method of nonviolence was of the most potent (powerful) weapons available to the Negro in his struggle for freedom.”

  1. When is civil disobedience necessary?

“There is nothing wrong with a traffic law which says you have to stop for a red light. But when a fire is raging the fire truck goes right through that red light, and normal traffic had better get out of the way. Or, when a man is bleeding to death, the ambulance goes through those red lights at top speed . . . Massive civil disobedience is a strategy for social change which is at least as forceful as an ambulance with its siren on full.”

  1. Why do you choose non-violent resistance over violence?

“To accept passively an unjust system is to cooperate with that system… Non-cooperation with evil is as much an obligation as is cooperation with good. Violence often brings about momentary results . . . But . . . It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.”

Questions:

  1. There was a wave of rioting in African American communities following the assassination of Dr. King. In your opinion, what would Dr. King have said to the rioters if he were alive?
  2. As you learn about the riots that followed the assassination of Dr. King, consider: Were the riots a legitimate response to King’s assassination?
  3. In your opinion, what has been the impact of the assassination of Dr. King and the riots that followed on American society?

Race Riots following the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 5-9, 1968)

Background: In the week following the death of Dr. King, riots broke out across the country. It is important to note that while Dr. King’s death may have sparked the riots, the long-standing history of racial tensions and conflicts had created an environment where violent protests were widely accepted in the wake of King’s assassination. President Johnson urged Americans to “reject the blind violence” that had killed King. Despite the President’s pleas, violence erupted and tens of thousands of National Guard, military and police officers were called on to quell the riots. By the end of the week, more than 21,000 were arrested and 2,600 injured, with 39 dead. With economic damages estimated to reach at least $65 million, entire areas and communities were destroyed. Of the 125 cities affected, Washington, Chicago and Baltimore were three that stand out amongst the rest.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TZ_5FmnSMs

Washington D.C.

Eyewitness to the Riot

Virginia Ali (a black woman who owned a restaurant with her husband in Washington): “I remember the sadness more than anything else. The radio stations were playing hymns, and people were coming in crying. People were out of control with anger and sadness and frustration. They broke into the liquor store across the street and were coming out with bottles of Courvoisier. They had no money, these youngsters. They were coming into the Chili Bowl saying, “Could you just give us a chili dog or a chili half smoke? We’ll give you this.”

George Pelecanos (an eleven-year-old black boy living in Washington): “The biggest mistake on the administrative side was not closing the schools and the government on Friday. Fourteenth Street had burned down, and officials thought it was over. But overnight, people all over the city had started talking about what was going to happen the next day. It got around by what they called the ghetto telegraph – the stoop, the barbershops, the telephones. Very early  in the morning, the teachers and school administrators started freaking out because the students were out of control – they just started to walk out. People realized: This isn’t over. It’s just beginning, and we have to get out of here.”

Questions:

  1. Describe the scenes shown in the video. Which scene is the most powerful? Why?
  2. How are the rioters portrayed in the video?
  3. How do the people interviewed remember the riot forty years later?
  4. According to Georg Pelecanos , what was the biggest mistake by authorities?
  5. In your opinion, does Ali’s quote provide a possible explanation for the riots?
  6. After examining the video, the quotes, and the photographs, which source do you think provides the most accurate representation of the riots? Why?

Baltimore, Maryland

Eyewitness to the Riot

Ruby Glover (a Jazz singer and administrator at Johns Hopkins Hospital) – “It looked like everything was on fire. It appeared that everything that we loved and adored and enjoyed was just being destroyed. It was just hideous.”

James  Bready (editorial writer for the Evening Sun) – “We drove along North Avenue, and I remember seeing kids running along from store to store with lighted torches to touch them off. But nobody ever tried to stop the car or interfere with us. I think black people felt release after generations of ‘You mustn’t do this, you mustn’t go there, you can’t say that or think that.’ Suddenly, the lid was off.”

Tommy D’Alesandro (mayor of Baltimore during the riots) – “There was hurt within the black community that they were not getting their fair share. We were coming from a very segregated city during the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s – and it was still a segregated atmosphere.”

Questions:

  1. How does Ruby Glover remember the riots?
  2. What is James Bready’s explanation for the riots?
  3. What is Tommy D’Alesandro’s explanation for the Baltimore riots?

Chicago, Illinois

Questions:

  1. What does Richard Barnett believe is a positive outcome of these events?
  2. What is the “ragged adolescent army” described by Ben Heineman?
  3. What does Mrs. Dorsey accuse the police of doing?
Trentonian

Trenton, New Jersey

Carmen Armenti (mayor of Trenton during the riots): “This was something that was simmering in black communities for a while before our disturbances. It was not an easy time to be a public official. They were not good economic times, and there was high unemployment among African-Americans and a multitude of other frustrations for black people. Keeping the lid on racial strife was the top political priority in those days.”

Tom Murphy (a young police officer in Trenton): “I’ll never forget that scene as long as I live. They were really whacking them at us. The golf balls were hitting guys and smashing car windshields. You had to dive for cover. They ran him [another police office] over with a truck. He was lucky it had those high wheels like the ones on the SUVs we have today. If it was a car it would have killed him, but he only got hit in the head with that ‘pumpkin’ for the axle in the back of the truck.”

Questions:

  1. Why does Mayor Armenti say “it was not a good time to be a public official”?
  2. How is Murphy’s account of the riots different from others we have read?
  3. How are events portrayed in The Trentonian?
John Lindsay

New York City and Buffalo, New York

Mayor John Lindsay: “It especially depends on the determination of the young men of this city to respect our laws and the teachings of the martyr, Martin Luther King. We can work together again for progress and peace in this city and this nation, for now I believe we are ready to scale the mountain from which Dr. King saw the promised land.”

Michele Martin (A young African American girl during the 1968 riot in conversation with her FDNY father): “Why is this happening?” “They killed King.” “Why is the supermarket on fire?” They’re mad.” “Why are they mad?” “Because they killed King.” “Why can’t we go out and play?” “There’s too much going on. Maybe when things calm down.”

David Garth (Mayoral press aide): “There was a mob so large it went across 125th Street from storefront to storefront. My life is over. He [Lindsay] had no written speech. No prepared remarks. He just held up his hand and said, ‘this is a terrible thing,’ He just calmed people, and then this gigantic wave stared marching down 125th Street, and somehow Lindsay was leading it.”

False Rumors Raise City’s Fears; Racial Unrest Exaggerated April 6, 1968, New York Times, pg. 1

Mayor, Quoting King, Urges Racial Peace Here; Lindsay Calls on Negroes in City to Follow Doctrine of Using Love to Fight Hate April 6, 1968, New York Times, pg. 26

VIOLENCE ERUPTS IN BUFFALO AREA; Looting and Fire Reported in Negro East Side  April 9, 1968, New York Times, pg. 36

Questions:

  1. Why did Mayor Lindsay walk the streets and discuss the “young men of the city”?
  2. In your opinion, why did Michele Martin’s father offer such simple answers?
  3. How did David Garth feel when he and the mayor faced the rioters?

Senator Robert Kennedy Speaks to the Nation

After the assassination of Reverend King, Senator Robert Kennedy interrupted his Presidential campaign to address the nation. An audio version of the speech is available on the website of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

Source: https://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Research-Aids/Ready-Reference/RFK-Speeches/Statement-on-the-Assassination-of-Martin-Luther-King.aspx

(A) I have bad news for you, for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world, and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and killed tonight. Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice for his fellow human beings, and he died because of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it is perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black–considering the evidence there evidently is that there were white people who were responsible–you can be filled with bitterness, with hatred, and a desire for revenge. We can move in that direction as a country, in great polarization–black people amongst black, white people amongst white, filled with hatred toward one another.

(B) Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand and to comprehend, and to replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love. For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and distrust at the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I can only say that I feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man. But we have to make an effort in the United States, we have to make an effort to understand, to go beyond these rather difficult times. My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: “In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

(C) What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black. So I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, that’s true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love–a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke. We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times; we’ve had difficult times in the past; we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder.

(D) But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land. Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.

Questions:

  1. What information does Senator Kennedy report”?
  2. In paragraph “B”, how does Kennedy suggest the country heal in this difficult time?
  3. According to Senator Kennedy, what did the United States need at this time?
  4. How did Senator Kennedy try to present a message of hope?

Charlottesville Belies Racism’s Deep Roots in the North

Brian J. Purnell, Bowdoin College
Jeanne Theoharis, Brooklyn College

Originally published in The Conversation, August 16, 2018. Reprinted with permission.

https://theconversation.com/charlottesville-belies-racisms-deep-roots-in-the-north-101567

A southern city has now become synonymous with the ongoing scourge of racism in the United States. A year ago, white supremacists rallied to “Unite the Right” in Charlottesville, protesting the removal of a Confederate statute. In the days that followed, two of them, Christopher C. Cantwell and James A. Fields Jr., became quite prominent. The HBO show “Vice News Tonight” profiled Cantwell in an episode and showed him spouting racist and anti-Semitic slurs and violent fantasies. Fields gained notoriety after he plowed a car into a group of unarmed counterprotesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

Today this tragedy defines the nature of modern racism primarily as Southern, embodied in tiki torches, Confederate flags and violent outbursts. As historians of race in America, we believe that such a one-sided view misses how entrenched, widespread and multi-various racism is and has been across the country.

Jim Crow born in the North

Racism has deep historic roots in the North, making the chaos and violence of Charlottesville part of a national historic phenomenon. Cantwell was born and raised in Stony Brook, Long Island, and was living in New Hampshire at the time of the march. Fields was born in Boone County, Kentucky, a stone’s throw from Cincinnati, Ohio, and was living in Ohio when he plowed through a crowd.

Jim Crow, the system of laws that advanced segregation and black disenfranchisement, began in the North, not the South, as most Americans believe. Long before the Civil War, northern states like New York, Massachusetts, Ohio, New Jersey and Pennsylvania had legal codes that promoted black people’s racial segregation and political disenfranchisement.

If racism is only pictured in spitting and screaming, in torches and vigilante justice and an allegiance to the Confederacy, many Americans can rest easy, believing they share little responsibility in its perpetuation. But the truth is, Americans all over the country do bear responsibility for racial segregation and inequality. Studying the long history of the Jim Crow North makes clear to us that there was nothing regional about white supremacy and its upholders. There is a larger landscape of segregation and struggle in the “liberal” North that brings into sharp relief the national character of American apartheid.

Northern racism shaped region

Throughout the 19th century, black and white abolitionists and free black activists challenged the North’s Jim Crow practices and waged war against slavery in the South and the North. At the same time, Northerners wove Jim Crow racism into the fabric of their social, political and economic lives in ways that shaped the history of the region and the entire nation.

There was broad-based support, North and South, for white supremacy. Abraham Lincoln, who campaigned to stop slavery from spreading outside of the South, barely carried New York State in the elections of 1860 and 1864, for example, but he lost both by a landslide in New York City. Lincoln’s victory in 1864 came with only 50.5 percent of the state’s popular vote. What’s more, in 1860, New York State voters overwhelmingly supported – 63.6 percent – a referendum to keep universal suffrage rights only for white men.

New York banks loaned Southerners tens of millions of dollars, and New York shipowners provided southern cotton producers with the means to get their products to market. In other words, New York City was sustained by a slave economy. And working-class New Yorkers believed that the abolition of slavery would flood the city with cheap black labor, putting newly arrived immigrants out of work.

‘Promised land that wasn’t’

Malignant racism appeared throughout Northern political, economic, and social life during the 18th and 19th centuries. But the cancerous history of the Jim Crow North metastasized during the mid-20th century. Six million black people moved north and west between 1910 and 1970, seeking jobs, desiring education for their children and fleeing racial terrorism.

The rejuvenation of the Ku Klux Klan in the early 20th century, promoting pseudo-scientific racism known as “eugenics,” immigration restriction and racial segregation, found supple support in pockets of the North, from California to Michigan to Queens, New York – not only in the states of the old Confederacy.

The KKK was a visible and overt example of widespread Northern racism that remained covert and insidious. Over the course of the 20th century, Northern laws, policies and policing strategies cemented Jim Crow. In Northern housing, the New Deal-era government Home Owners Loan Corporation maintained and created racially segregated neighborhoods. The research of scholars Robert K. Nelson, LaDale Winling, Richard Marciano and Nathan Connolly, through their valuable website, Mapping Inequality (http://dsl.richmond.edu/mappinginequality.html), makes this history visible and undeniable. Zoning policies in the North preserved racial segregation in schools. Discrimination in jobs contributed to economic underdevelopment of businesses and neighborhoods, as well as destabilization of families. Crime statistics became a modern weapon for justifying the criminalization of Northern urban black populations and aggressive forms of policing.

A close examination of the history of the Jim Crow North – what Rosa Parks referred to as the “Northern promised land that wasn’t”—demonstrates how racial discrimination and segregation operated as a system. Judges, police officers, school board officials and many others created and maintained the scaffolding for a Northern Jim Crow system that hid in plain sight.

New Deal policies, combined with white Americans’ growing apprehension toward the migrants moving from the South to the North, created a systematized raw deal for the country’s black people. Segregation worsened after the New Deal of the 1930s in multiple ways. For example, Federal Housing Administration policies rated neighborhoods for residential and school racial homogeneity. Aid to Dependent Children carved a requirement for “suitable homes” in discriminatory ways. Policymakers and intellectuals blamed black “cultural pathology” for social disparities.

Fighting back

Faced with these new realities, black people relentlessly and repeatedly challenged Northern racism, building movements from Boston to Milwaukee to Los Angeles. They were often met with the argument that this wasn’t the South. They found it difficult to focus national attention on northern injustice. As Martin Luther King Jr. pointedly observed in 1965, “As the nation, negro and white, trembled with outrage at police brutality in the South, police misconduct in the North was rationalized, tolerated and usually denied.”

Many Northerners, even ones who pushed for change in the South, were silent and often resistant to change at home. One of the grandest achievements of the modern civil rights movement – the 1964 Civil Rights Act – contained a key loophole to prevent school desegregation from coming to northern communities. In a New York Times poll in 1964, a majority of New Yorkers thought the civil rights movement had gone too far.

Jim Crow practices unfolded despite supposed “colorblindness” among those who considered themselves liberal. And it evolved not just through Southern conservatism but New Deal and Great Society liberalism as well. Understanding racism in America in 2018 means not only examining the long history of racist practices and ideologies in the South but also the long history of racism in the Jim Crow North. e 6 Col