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8 Posts authored by: Steven Huang

As Black History Month comes to a close, I think it's important that we remember that learning about Black history shouldn't be confined to the month of February; it is imperative that we continue to learn and understand the contributions Black Americans have made in the United States.

Here is a list of great books and videos to learn more:



  1. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, by Harriet A. Jacobs
  2. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in an Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander
  3. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
  4. Beloved, by Toni Morrison 
  5. Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
  6. The 1619 Project, by The New York Times
  7. Chocolate Me!, by Taye Diggs 
  8. Becoming, by Michelle Obama
  9. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
  10. Chasing Space: An Astronaut's Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances by Leland Melvin
  11. I am Perfectly Designed, by Karamo Brown
  12. 28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World, by Charles R. Smith Jr.


  1. The Dangers of Whitewashing Black History | David Ikard | TEDxNashville
  2. Talks to celebrate Black History Month
  3. BlacKkKlansman
  4. Freedom Riders

   5. Quincy

January 25, 2020 is an important day for Chinese people: it’s the beginning of the Chinese New Year. But, what makes this new year more special than every other new year is that it’s the beginning of a new cycle. As we finish up the year of the pig, the 12th and last animal in the zodiac cycle, the start a new cycle with the very first animal in the Chinese zodiac--the year of the rat.


There are various stories on how the Chinese zodiac came to be. One of the most popular stories is about the race orchestrated by the Jade Emperor. In short, the Jade Emperor asked 13 animals to partake in a race and their placement in the race will determine the order of the zodiac¹. Because the rat was the first one to win the race, the first animal in the zodiac cycle begins with the rat. As for the 13th animal, there are various reasons why the cat is not part of the zodiac. The one I heard growing up was that the rat tricked the cat to cross a river to test the currents and it nearly drowned. That is also why cats and rats are enemies and it’s why cats hate water.


In contrast to the more lighthearted story of the Chinese zodiac, the story about Chinese New Year is darker. According to Britannica, there was a monster named Nian (meaning “year” in Chinese) that would attack and eat villagers every year². But, villagers fought back: people wore red because Nian was afraid of bright colors, and they lit fireworks because it was afraid of loud noises. This practice still occurs in China: to celebrate the new year, people still wear bright colors like red and gold and light firecrackers to ward off bad luck and evil.


Every Chinese family celebrates Chinese New Year in a different way, but there are some common practices:

  • Wearing red and gold/yellow clothing to usher the new year with good luck and auspiciousness
  • Having a giant banquet with family members with vegetarian/vegan options since many people opt out from eating animal products on this day.
  • Giving red envelopes with money inside. People avoid giving amounts that have the number “4” in it because the number is a homonym for the Chinese word “to die”.


For me, Chinese New Year is about representation. Despite growing up in a liberal city, I often felt neglected when it comes to learning more about my heritage and even more so when celebrating it. Chinese New Year was not a recognized holiday, taking a day off from school counted against me. When I was a student, I often asked my teachers to include a lesson plan on Asian American history and our contributions to society. More often than not, I got a quick lesson on the Transcontinental Railroad. But, we are more than just our hardships; Asian Americans have made large contributions to society and in American policy, most notably in the Supreme Court Case: United States v. Wong Kim Ark³


With the start of the new cycle and the new year, I can’t help but reflect on how much has changed in the last 12 years when the current cycle began. 12 years ago there were fields that were difficult, if not impossible for Asian Americans to break into. And yet, we continue to make strides to break through the bamboo ceiling. In cinema, Nora Lum known to many as Awkwafina, became the first Asian woman to win a Golden Globe for her role in The Farewell; Sundar Pichai is the CEO of Alphabet, the parent company of Google; and as of today, we currently have two presidential candidates who are of Asian descent: Andrew Yang and Tulsi Gabbard. I am both confident and refreshed in knowing that our collective efforts in challenging the status quo is making a difference. I cannot wait to see what the new crop of Asian American trailblazers will do for the next generation of leaders.



  1. BBC. “Why a pig is the last animal in the Chinese Zodiac.”
  2. Tikkanen, Amy. “Chinese New Year.” Encyclopedia Britannica.
  3. Oyez. “United States v. Wong Kim Ark.”

December 15, 1791--Virginia became the last state needed to ratify the Bill of Rights, giving the bill the necessary 2/3 majority of votes needed to be made into law¹. Since its inception, the Bill of Rights has become the cornerstone of American civil liberties, but the interpretations of these amendments have always been in flux--changing to suit the needs and interpretations of both the legal system and the country's political opinions. For instance, the Bill of Rights included 12 Amendment, two of which were left out, one later then was ratified in 1992 becoming the 27th Amendment¹ .


The Supreme Court continues to have an impact on the Bill of Rights. Here are several landmark cases that have redefined the boundaries of the Bill of Rights:


1.Schenck v. United States (1919)

In a unanimous vote, the Supreme Court had ruled that freedom of speech can be limited during wartime and when it can cause harm.

2. Olmstead v. United States (1927)

The Supreme Court had ruled that the government is allowed to wiretap people without a warrant and that it is admissible in court. It wasn't until 40 years later that this ruling was overturned in Katz v. United States.

3. Furman v. Georgia (1972)

The Supreme Court had decided that the death penalty is a "cruel and unusual" punishment under the 8th Amendment and, therefore, was unconstitutional. Four years later, the Supreme Court reversed that ruling under Gregg v. Georgia.

If you would like to incorporate information on landmark cases in your classroom, feel free to check out:


1. Bill of Rights is finally ratified - HISTORY 

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:



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:


¹Transgender Day of Remembrance | GLAAD 

²Transgender Day of Remembrance Resource Kit for Journalists | GLAAD 

³Trans teens much more likely to attempt suicide - Reuters 


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, 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:



¹, “Halloween 2019”

², “How Trick-or-Treating Became a Halloween Tradition”

³National Retail Foundation, “Retail Holiday and Seasonal Trends: Halloween”.

When we think about September, we think about fall foliage, apples, and pumpkin spice lattes. But, did you know that September is also the month that contains  the International Day of Peace?


The holiday was first started by the United Nations in 1981. For the past few years, the United Nations had dedicated this day to a peaceful cause in hopes of raising awareness on global issues that continue to affect all of us.


Some of the themes for the past few years include: human rights, education and democracy.


This year's focus is on climate change--urging people to take action on combating climate change and raising awareness on sustainability and green initiatives.


Share what you think is important by using the hashtag #peaceday to spread the word.


To learn more about the event click here:

International Day of Peace 


 photo credit: 

The George F. Landegger Collection of Alabama Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith's America, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division


August is for vacations, air conditioned rooms, and sipping cold drinks at the beach, but what some people may not know is that August was a pivotal month for civil rights activists.


On August 28th 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. made his infamous “I Have a Dream” speech to thousands of activists in Washington D.C. The simple yet powerful words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech united people from all over the country so that together, we can achieve an idyllic version of the America Dr. Martin King Jr. had envisioned.


Several months after the speech was made, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. went on to become one of the youngest people to win the Nobel Peace Prize.


Despite the enormity of the speech and his status as an iconic leader of the Civil Rights Movement, the path to equality was still a hard paved road. In 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led the Selma to Montgomery March, a 53-mile 3-day walk, to advocate for the rights of African Americans to vote. The protest was a success; as a result of their efforts, President Lyndon B. Johnson called on Congress to pass federal legislation that would protect all African Americans’ right to vote.


So much has changed in the past few decades after the speech was made. Let’s take this moment to remember all that we have accomplished, while continuing to pave a brighter future for all people.




To see a recording of the speech, click here: Martin Luther King - I Have A Dream Speech - August 28, 1963 - YouTube