Harvey Richards dedicated much of his life to shining a light on movements for social justice. He filmed and photographed the voting rights struggle in Mississippi, the early farmworker movement in California, peace protests, GI anti-war activists, and more.
As is explained in his biography, “Harvey Richards went to the front lines of social conflict in the early 1960s when the struggles for justice were largely ignored and needed some good press. At first, Richards’ camera would be one of a small number photographing the picket lines. As more media arrived, Richards moved on to the next issue.
We are happy to share a list of upcoming conferences of interest to social justice educators. The Zinn Education Project will have a presence at most of these conferences. We will have a booth at Free Minds, Free People and the National Council for the Social Studies. Zinn Education Project co-coordinator Rethinking Schools is one of the lead sponsors of the Northwest Teachers for Social Justice Conference. We hope to meet you at one or more of these events. Read more.Read more »
May 18 is the anniversary of the historic Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision in 1896. Did you know that the case was initiated by the Comité des Citoyens, or Citizens Committee, in New Orleans? The Comité had raised the funds, developed the strategy, secured the lawyer, and done much more to challenge racist laws. “They hired the detective to arrest Homer Plessy so that they could get him charged with the right thing,” wrote Keith Weldon Medley in We as Freemen: Plessy v. Ferguson. In response to the devastating Supreme Court ruling, the Comité des Citoyens stated: “We, as freemen, still believe that we were right and our cause is sacred.” Read more about the organizing history of this case in an excellent article by Medley.Read more »
When the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) held hearings in SF, May 12-14, 1960, to investigate alleged “communist subversion,” they encountered a reception unlike any they had ever seen. The previous year HUAC had subpoenaed San Francisco Bay area journalists, college professors, and 110 public school teachers, then leaked their names to the local press, but cancelled after public outcry. Now they were greeted by hundreds of peaceful protesters, mostly college students, who formed a picket-line around S.F. City Hall.
The first day, many waited in line hoping to gain admission to the hearing, but discovered that most seats had been given to known HUAC supporters.
Mother’s Day began as a call to action to improve the lives of families through health and peace. Ann Jarvis of Appalachia founded Mother’s Day in 1858 to promote sanitation in response to high infant mortality. After the Civil War, abolitionist Julia Ward Howe made a Mother’s Day call to women to protest the carnage of war. To explore the history and purpose of Mother’s Day, beyond the textbooks and commercial media, we offer below the original proclamation by Julia Ward Howe, a short film called Mother’s Day for Peace, an excerpt from an article on the Appalachian origins of Mother’s Day, and an excerpt from an article called “The Original Anti-War Mother’s Day.”
Mother’s Day Proclamation, 1870
By Julia Ward Howe
Arise, then, women of this day!
We are pleased to share Dave Zirin’s review of the 2013 film 42. While the film brings attention to the important life and legacy of Jackie Robinson, Zirin describes how it limits the story to a tale of “individual triumph through singular greatness,” ignoring the social movements and broader context of the time. In fact, we see these same distortions of history in textbook descriptions of Robinson. For example, from Pearson Prentice-Hall’s America, p. 876:
Barriers Begin to Crumble
One of the first barriers to fall was in sports. Professional baseball had long been segregated into the all-white Major Leagues and the Negro League.
On May 4, 1886, a peaceful demonstration for the 8-hour day ended in tragedy when a bomb was thrown and labor organizers were blamed, with no evidence, and executed. Here is a description of the Haymarket Tragedy from the Illinois Labor History Society. Here are resources for teaching outside the textbook about Haymarket, including a middle school book of historical fiction. Portrait of the Haymarket Martyrs from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.Read more »