When I think of what it means to be an ally, I think of a protest I attended in 1994. I was marching along with countless other Latinos carrying flags from Mexico, El Salvador, and other Latin American countries. When I looked more closely at the crowd, I noticed that there were also whites, Asian Americans, and African Americans in the mass of people moving down Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard. The crowd moved peacefully, almost gracefully, as the sun beat down overhead. We wore t-shirts and jeans, hats, and sunglasses to guard against the sun’s glare. It was a Sunday and, depending on who you talked to, there were between 60,000 and 100,000 people on the streets that day.
I didn’t see Schindler’s List in 1993, when it first in theaters. I saw it in 2018 for the first time and I’m glad I waited. As a Program Associate at Facing History, I have had a similar journey in learning about the Holocaust as a Facing History student would have. I have learned about issues of identity, we/they, conformity and consent, as well as the actual history in ways that have made me appreciate the film so much more than I would have 25 years ago.
“Humanity is a complex idea. On one level, it simply means being human. On another level, however, it means being humane. What is the difference? Justice.”
Katherine McPhie, Grade 10 University High School, Irvine, CA
Facing History congratulates Chapman University and the 1939 Society for their 20th Anniversary of the Annual Art & Writing Contest! We have been a long-term partner with Chapman University in bringing this history and rich learning experience to students world-wide. The Chapman Art and Writing Contest has been instrumental in bringing the voices of Holocaust survivors and rescuers to inspire the learning and artistic expression of countless Facing History students.
The California Association of Teachers of English (CATE) is presenting its annual Student Creative Writing Contest. This year’s theme, Voices of Literacy: In Pursuit of Human Rights, echoes the themes at work in Facing History classrooms. We encourage our Facing History teachers to inspire students to produce original works by the deadline of November 1, 2018 based on the following prompt:
When we read about or interact with people with various perspectives, we learn more about our society and our world. Write a poem, story, or essay that shows how our world is made better when we understand the voices of many different people.
Topics: Essay Contest
Facing History and Ourselves, in collaboration with the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, has sponsored educator workshops this summer on the Holocaust and The Children of Willesden Lane by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen. This book tells the story of Lisa Jura, Mona’s mother, as a Kindertransport survivor. Teachers will receive copies of The Children of Willesden Lane for their students, be invited to tour the the museum, and attend concert performances by Mona Golabek at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in October.
One of the lessons The Children of Willesden Lane teaches is about the complexities of living during a time when Jewish people were faced with a decreasing range of choices in Nazi Germany leading to the Holocaust. Lisa Jura’s story teaches us what it means to be a refugee, to be alone, and nationless. Even though she escaped the concentration camps, she was not spared the pain of her parents’ deaths and the concern over the fates of her sisters. I am reminded of the point in the book where the war has ended and Lisa’s schoolmates are celebrating in the streets. The end of the war marked the beginning of a devastating time for Lisa and her Jewish friends who had to find out what had happened to their family members outside of England. The story beautifully ties together the themes of family and history.
Why is it important to learn about this history?