America in Progress

America in Progress
America in Progress

Saturday, September 30, 2017

September 30-October 1, 2017: September 2017 Recap



[A Recap of the month that was in AmericanStudying.]
September 4: Fall 2017 Previews: Mark Twain!: A Fall semester series starts with two goals for a Special Author course I’m very excited to be teaching.
September 5: Fall 2017 Previews: America in the Gilded Age—and Today: The series continues with what three under-read Gilded Age literary texts can help us analyze in 2017.
September 6: Fall 2017 Previews: First-year Writing I: Two of the many vital skills that FYW courses teach, as the series rolls on.
September 7: Fall 2017 Previews: Literary Conversations at BOLLI: Two literary pairings for which I’m particulary excited in a new adult learning class.
September 8: Fall 2017 Previews: Contemporary Short Stories for ALFA—Your Input Needed!: I could still use your input as I finalize the short stories for my next Fitchburg adult learning class!
September 9-10: Fall 2017 Previews: Conferences and Communities: The series concludes with two fall events I’m looking forward to—and room for you to share some more!
September 11: Pledge Posts: Myths and Realities: A series on the Pledge of Allegiance’s 125th anniversary starts with fundamental inaccuracies about the emblematic text.
September 12: Pledge Posts: Protesting the Pledge: The series continues with two contexts for my older son’s inspiring act of civil disobedience.
September 13: Pledge Posts: The Bellamy Boys: How biographical and familial contexts can change our sense of the Pledge, as the series continues.
September 14: Pledge Posts: 1890s America: How three 1890s contexts help us think about the Pledge.
September 15: Pledge Posts: The 1950s Addition: The series concludes with three contexts for the 1950s addition of “under God” to the Pledge.
September 16-17: The Worst and Best of Allegiance: A special follow-up post on what allegiance too often means, and what it might mean instead.
September 18: Legends of the Fall: Young Adult Lit: A series on autumn and falls from innocence starts with two iconic YA novels.
September 19: Legends of the Fall: American Pastoral: The series continues with the louder and quieter moments of lost innocence in Philip Roth’s great novel.
September 20: Legends of the Fall: The Body and Stand By Me: The different stories of youthful innocence lost in a novella and film adaptation, as the series rolls on.
September 21: Legends of the Fall: Presumed Innocent: The multiple layers of revelations built into Scott Turow’s novel and the best mystery fiction.
September 22: Legends of the Fall: “American Pie”: The series concludes with the straightforward and more subtle sides to the beloved ballad of lost innocence.
September 23-24: Crowd-sourced Legends of the Fall: The responses and nominations of fellow FallStudiers constitute another great crowd-sourced post!
September 25: Little Rock and Race: On the 60th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine, three layers to how that city remembers those histories of race and community.
September 26: Early Civil Rights Histories: Thurgood Marshall: A series on early Civil Rights histories starts with three legal victories won by a young Thurgood Marshall.
September 27: Early Civil Rights Histories: Brown v. Board of Education: The series continues with the forgotten figures at the heart of the crucial Civil Rights case.
September 28: Early Civil Rights Histories: Women and the Montgomery Bus Boycott: Danielle McGuire’s wonderful piece on the women behind Montgomery, as the series rolls on.
September 29: Early Civil Rights Histories: The Little Rock Nine: The series concludes with three ways to remember the courageous, pioneering high schoolers.
Next series starts Monday,
Ben
PS. Topics you’d like to see covered in this space? Guest Posts you’d like to contribute? Lemme know!

Friday, September 29, 2017

September 29, 2017: Early Civil Rights Histories: The Little Rock Nine



[September 25th marks the 60th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine integrating the city’s all-white Central High School. So this week, after a special post on Little Rock and race, I’ll focus on a few other early Civil Rights moments, histories, and figures.]
On three ways to remember the couragerous, groundbreaking high schoolers.
1)      Their Words: Not at all coincidentally, many of the Little Rock Nine went on to pursue careers in education and journalism, and a few have written extensively about their experiences in and after Central High in the late 1950s. Journalist Melba Pattillo Beals has written two memoirs, Warriors Don’t Cry (1994), which focuses most directly on in the integration efforts, and a sequel about her later life, White is a State of Mind (1999). Carlotta Walls LaNier, the youngest of the nine at 14 when the integration efforts began, worked with author Lisa Frazier Page on her own memoir, A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School (2009). And teacher and consultant Terrence Roberts wrote and published two books of his own, Lessons from Little Rock (2009) and Simple, Not Easy: Reflections on Community, Social Responsibility, and Tolerance (2010). Taken together, these works introduce us to the individual identities and perspectives of these young activists, as well as to the shared experiences and issues that unite them and demand our engagement.
2)      Documentaries: By far the most famous film about the students is Nine from Little Rock (1964), filmmaker Charles Guggenheim’s Academy Award winning documentary short that was narrated by one of the students, Jefferson Thomas (to date the only one who has passed away, so it’s particularly important to have this record of his voice and perspective). But complementing that documentary’s social and historical overview nicely is Journey to Little Rock: The Untold Story of Minnijean Brown Trickey (2002), which focuses closely on the life and identity of one of the nine students. After Little Rock Brown Trickey went on to a career in social work, taking part in First Nations activism in Ottawa (where she received her Master’s from Carleton University) and serving as President Clinton’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior for diversity. Taken together, these two films help us understand both the specifics of 1957 Little Rock and the long lives and arcs of each of these nine Americans, a combination that’s vital if we’re to remember the Little Rock Nine.
3)      Contemporary Echoes: As I hope this blog demonstrates day in and day out, however, historical and collective memories are also about echoes and connections in the present. One contemporary way to remember the Little Rock Nine would be to compare them to #BlackLivesMatter, a social movement for African American rights and equality likewise begun by young people but centered not in education or a local community but on social media and the internet. But offering an even more overt parallel and echo of the Little Rock Nine, to my mind, are the students at Arizona’s Cholla High School who in 2012 began a series of protests and activisms in support of their Mexican American Studies program (which has been and remains under assault from state laws and lawmakers). If and when we hear critiques of “millenials” or other 21st century young people as self-centered or disinterested, the implicit or explicit contrast is generally with more communally engaged prior generations. Yet despite generational shifts and differences, there’s a strong through-line between the Little Rock Nine and these 21st century youthful activists, and remembering the former can likewise help us appreciate and celebrate the latter.
September Recap this weekend,
Ben
PS. What do you think? Other Civil Rights histories or figures you’d highlight?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

September 28, 2017: Early Civil Rights Histories: Women and the Montgomery Bus Boycott



[September 25th marks the 60th anniversary of the Little Rock Nine integrating the city’s all-white Central High School. So this week, after a special post on Little Rock and race, I’ll focus on a few other early Civil Rights moments, histories, and figures.]
I could try to write a post of my own on the incredible, vital, complex, inspiring, and still far too unremembered histories of women’s anti-rape and –racism activism that led directly to Rosa Parks and the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery. But I couldn’t possibly do a better job than historian Danielle McGuire did in this piece for We’re History. So I’ll leave this post there, and implore you to read McGuire’s piece on that amazing set of early Civil Rights and women’s rights histories.
Last Civil Rights post tomorrow,
Ben
PS. What do you think? Other Civil Rights histories or figures you’d highlight?