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2019

Hello everyone!

 

In celebration of Native American Heritage Month, Macmillan hosted a plethora of events to raise awareness about Native American culture and history. Here are some of the events that we had held.

 

Earlier this month, we had a screening of Rumble: The Indians Who Have Rocked the World. The documentary focused on the contributions made by Native Americans in music and in modern culture. Interested in incorporating this movie in your class? Feel free to check this out, it’s a great resource with lesson plans and ideas on how to do so.

 

Last week, we invited Heather Bruegl to speak to us about the important contributions made by Native American women. Heather Bruegl is an educator and an activist and has spoken to numerous organizations on Native American history. Make sure to check out the video below:

 

 

Listen to our podcast from the new co-authors of The American PromiseSarah Igo and François Furstenberg. In this episode, Sarah and François address questions from the history teaching community on becoming textbook authors, teaching American history, and the complications of education today. 

 

To learn more about The American Promise or to request an exam copy, please visit our catalog.

 

The American Promise 8e Podcast

This past weekend I had the opportunity to look through my high school report cards. It would probably shock my former history teachers that I pursued a career in a subject area where I squeaked out B-minuses semester after semester. As someone who teaches at a community college I find myself fascinated by the trajectory of student academic paths. So often I see students trying to choose a direction at a young age -- selecting a major or area of study as soon as possible so that course selection will be more seamless. Looking back at those high school grades reminds me that had I made a choice at 18 and stuck with it, I never would have ended up in my current career. 

 

For so many of my current students the cost of a four-year college is daunting. They arrive at community college hoping to get through the first two years of higher education without incurring debt so that they can borrow for years three and four. I imagine for those students the thought of spending thousands of dollars with no guarantee of a high-paying job is beyond frightening. 

 

My college path could not have been more different from that of my students. Arriving at Wheaton College (MA) as a freshman in the fall of 1990 -- with the financial and emotional support of my amazing parents -- I was certain that I would be an English major (probably because it was the subject I disliked least in high school). Second semester, however, I took a class in Modern US History -- a subject area we had never come close to in secondary-level history classes. My professor, Alexander Bloom, truly captivated me with his teaching style and obvious mastery of the subject matter. He invited students to stop by his office with questions and he showed episodes of the (then recent) documentary series “Eyes on the Prize” outside of class for extra-credit. I was hooked. I can remember searching my notebook for questions to ask just so I could chat with him for a few minutes at office hours.

 

Professor Bloom is preparing to retire this year. So many former Wheaton students owe a debt of gratitude to Alex for the way in which he encouraged us to love studying history. He was a truly gifted story-teller in the era before PowerPoint presentations and classrooms with digital projection. For students like myself who were searching for an academic interest to which we could connect personally and passionately, his intelligence and quick wit were a true gift in the classroom. No doubt countless students of every academic major took US history classes at Wheaton over the years because they wanted to experience the unique ways Alex connected students to the past.

 

Perhaps it’s cliche to be “thankful” in the month of November. I feel compelled to use this week’s blog, nonetheless, to acknowledge the teachers over the years who encouraged me. Every once in a while a student will write a note or send an email to me acknowledging some small act that I see as part of my job but that he/she felt particularly inspired by. I remind myself in those moments that I was not always a strong student -- I had many days that I was disinterested or uninspired. I had my share of lousy test grades. What kept me going was the hard work of men and women -- like Alex Bloom and many others-- who were committed to their students’ forward progress and who believed that any student could flourish when she found the right path.  For those, and many, many other lessons, I’m grateful. 

Did you know that November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance?

 

Transgender Day of Remembrance was first started in November 20th 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender advocate, who had held a vigil for Rita Hessler, a transgender women who was killed in 1998¹. What started off as a small annual event grew into a campaign that is observed every year in remembrance of all transgender people who have lost their lives to anti-transgender violence².

 

Here are some facts about the issues that affect transgender people in the United States:

  • About 50% of trans teen males, who were assigned female at birth, had attempted suicide at least once¹. About 30% of trans teen females, who were assigned male at birth, at attempted suicide at least³ 
  • 26 states do not have any laws preventing employers from firing someone who is trans
  • At least 22 people who identify as transgender or non-conforming have died this year due to violence ³.

 

While we as a country have made strides creating a safe environment for LGBTQI+ community, there is still a lot of work needed to ensure that everyone feels comfortable both in their personal and professional life.

 

Last June, in honor of Pride Month, we invited Jessica Soukup to speak at the office on how to be LGBTQ+ allies and how we all can make a difference.

 

                                    

Want to make an impact in your school or your community? Contact your local LGBTQ+ non-profit and learn how you can make a difference! Here are a few great resources to help you get started: 

https://www.hrc.org/

https://transequality.org/know-your-rights/schools

https://www.lambdalegal.org/sites/default/files/osr-admin_working-with-transgender-students.pdf

https://www.hrc.org/explore/topic/transgender

https://www.glaad.org/amp/revamp-supporting-your-trans-students

https://www.thetrevorproject.org/trvr_support_center/trans-gender-identity/

 

¹Transgender Day of Remembrance | GLAAD 

²Transgender Day of Remembrance Resource Kit for Journalists | GLAAD 

³Trans teens much more likely to attempt suicide - Reuters 

⁴ http://www.lgbtmap.org/equality-maps/non_discrimination_laws

Violence Against the Transgender Community in 2019 | Human Rights Campaign  

Steven Huang

Origins of Halloween

Posted by Steven Huang Nov 1, 2019

Pumpkins, scary decorations, an overabundance of fun-sized candy in your grocery store--it’s Halloween! It’s the one day all kids look forward to as they knock on doors with their friends and loved ones to collect their candy.

 

But did you know that origins of Halloween was less festive and fun? 

 

According to History.com, Halloween (also known as Samhain) was a day for the Irish to ward off evil spirits by lighting a sacred bonfire and wearing costumes. Other practices included:

      
  • Burning crops and sacrificing animals to Celtic deities 
  •   
  • People read fortunes by reading each other’s costumes
  •   
  • Once everyone was done, they relit their hearth using the flame from the sacred bonfire to protect them from the upcoming winter

 

When Christianity found its way into Ireland, the church kept many of their practices while incorporating new ones. By 1000 AD, the church designated November 2 to be All Souls Day--a day where poor people will visit affluent homes for soul cakes in exchange for praying for the souls of their loved ones².

 

Eventually Halloween found its way to the United States and its own identity was shaped by the customs and traditions early Europeans settlers and Native Americans¹. Ghost stories, parties, and celebrating the harvest all became an integral part of early American Halloween celebrations¹. Interestingly enough, Halloween was celebrated mainly by states like Maryland and southern states¹. Waves of Irish immigrants helped spread the holiday throughout the states and eventually it became mainstream.

 

But, for a while, celebrating Halloween became difficult. During World War II, sugar rations made it difficult for people to pass out candy and it wasn’t until the baby-boomer generation that Halloween made a comeback².

 

Today, Halloween is now one of the most popular holidays in the United States that is widely celebrated and has evolved into being one of the most commercial holidays as well. It is expected that this year’s Halloween will generate over 8.8 billion dollars, the bulk of which is comprised of costume and candy sales³.

 

 

For more information on the history of Halloween click here:

https://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween#section_3

https://www.history.com/news/halloween-trick-or-treating-origins

https://nrf.com/insights/holiday-and-seasonal-trends/halloween

 

Footnotes:

¹History.com, “Halloween 2019” https://www.history.com/topics/halloween/history-of-halloween#section_3

²History.com, “How Trick-or-Treating Became a Halloween Tradition” https://www.history.com/news/halloween-trick-or-treating-origins

³National Retail Foundation, “Retail Holiday and Seasonal Trends: Halloween”. https://nrf.com/insights/holiday-and-seasonal-trends/halloween