2018 Community Conversation
It has been said that Americans have very little knowledge of history and even less concern for why it matters. Yet many of the most crucial issues and vexing problems we currently face can’t be understood or resolved without an adequate awareness of their origins in our collective past.
In particular, we know little to nothing about those aspects of our history that routinely have been omitted from conventional classroom study— the stories of the “other America” in which we find the historically disempowered, marginalized, disenfranchised, and de-humanized
Centering on House Bill 4293, which would mandate the teaching of African-American history in Michigan’s public schools, this free conference will highlight several key consequences of our lack of historical knowledge: The shredding of our democracy, the rollback of voting rights, heightened racial animosity, and the widening of the gulf between the richest and poorest among us.
But we won’t leave you with a simple list of problems. We also will point participants toward effective solutions, including Washtenaw County’s “One Community” initiative, designed to grapple with racial and class disparities at the systemic level. And we’ll share practical methods to empower students of color to engage more fully in their educational experience, as well as examples of teaching tools that work to help all of us take a pro-active role in fostering a richer, more honest telling of the totality of our collective history.
KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Michigan House Representative Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, M.Ed.
Sponsor of Michigan House Bill 4293, Mandating the Teaching of African-American History to Grades K-12
Setting the Stage:
Examining the current national trend away from democracy, and toward authoritarianism and openly expressed bigotry
La’Ron Williams, B.F.A., Racial Justice Educator and Professional Storyteller
University of Michigan student videos of their experiences taking African-American history in high school
Students in Professor Matthew Countryman's class, "The Modern Civil Rights Movement"
Combating our ignorance of U.S. history is tantamount to combating racism and rescuing democracy
Jacques Vest, Ph.D. Lecturer in History, University of Michigan
Panel of Educators:
Introduction by Panel Moderator
Patricia Douglas Jenkins, Lead Teacher, Communication, Media and Public Policy Magnet, Skyline High School, Ann Arbor:
A successful example of teaching African-American history
Kay D. Wade, Social Studies District Curriculum Leader, Ann Arbor Public Schools
Why African-American history matters and methods that work in teaching ALL history
Stewart Gordon, Ph.D., Independent Scholar
Washtenaw County’s ‘One Community’ equity program
Felicia Brabec, Psy.D., M.S.W., Washtenaw County Commissioner & Psychologist/Co-Owner, Arbor Wellness Center, Ann Arbor