Courage isn't doing what comes easy, but what comes hard."
Anthony Chavez, grandson of Civil Rights activist Cesar Chavez and now an upstander in his own right, shared this as one of the lessons he had learned from his grandfather. In a twist on the traditional Community Conversations facilitated by Facing History and Ourselves across the country and made possible by the support of The Allstate Foundation, this conversation was also a celebration of upstanding at schools which are members of the LA Facing History Partnership Schools Network.
Educators and students at these schools across Los Angeles cultivate the desire and tools to stand up to injustice throughout the year, and this was the time to celebrate them. Anthony's shared lessons were inspiring...
We honor the legacy of upstanders be continuing the work in our own time and place."
Anthony shared that it wasn't easy for his tata and nana. Cesar Chavez would talk with hundreds of farmworkers and only find two willing to stand up. He had his own serious doubts about the potential success of his work, but knew he had to try. And, he noted the now well-known phrase which was utilized, "Si Se Puede" and the legacy that lives on wherever people stand up nonviolently.
My grandfather wanted to help ordinary people to do the extraordinary things we are all capable of."
My children will come of age in an era of easy digital access, of school districts across the country exploring one-to-one computing, and their hometown deciding that students have the right to bring personal cell phones and electronics into schools. So, like many other parents of digital natives, I wonder how they will harness and utilize the power of this global access. How will they navigate the myriad of behaviors, distractions, and opportunities that the digital landscape provides? How will they define their digital Universe of Obligation and, as digital natives, will they be digital bystanders or digital upstanders?
I've been thinking about courage recently.
There is so much going on in the world that is challenging, disheartening, and complex. Sometimes we think of courage in big acts:
- Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. leading enormous, history-changing non-violent movements
- the heroism of a firefighter entering a burning building
- the choice to go in to the heart of a conflict, bringing the stories of others to the world through reporting or physically saving others' lives
I think that courage also comes on a daily and individual level just in making the commitment to stay engaged with the world, to learn about difficult moments and to be willing to question what we have grown up believing, assuming, or simply not knowing.
The film Selma opens across the nation this week. It is a powerful story of the Civil Rights Movement through a critical moment and place.
Last week we highlighted our top five posts for 2014. Here are a few more posts we think are hidden gems, and worth a second look.
It’s the holiday season, and I’m made to think about a certain social trend. No, I’m not talking about toddlers waiting to sit on Santa’s lap or the growing number of “Ugly Christmas Sweater” parties. I’m talking about the shifting trend in how we think about giving back.
Topics: Choosing to Participate
Facing History and Ourselves teaches about the importance of civic engagement and responsibility. A number of years ago, Facing History and Ourselves in Los Angeles created an exhibit, “Power of One,” to accompany the traveling Choosing To Participate exhibit. One of the individuals who was highlighted in this exhibit was Chuck Levin. Levin was honored for his commitment to registering voters. Recently he visited one of the LA Facing History Partnership Schools.
Topics: Choosing to Participate
As October is Connected Educator Month, we are pleased to announce our partnership with Educator Innovator! Educator Innovator, powered by the National Writing Project, provides an online "meet-up" for educators who are re-imagining learning. Educator Innovator is both a blog and a growing community of educators, partners and supporters. We know we're with the right partner, because in this month focused on "Connected Education," the theme chosen by Educator Innovator as its key focus is:
Student Agency, Student Voice, and the Maker Movement
"Powerful learning occurs when youth, driven by their own interests, are supported in being creators and not just consumers of knowledge." We agree. And, it makes me think of the story behind a young group of "makers" we worked with several years ago.
I love the project, too, but the story behind it is so special to me!
We hold these truths to be self-evident…
When in the course of human events…
… the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, …
There are some words that need little introduction. They call up an immediate reference to American democracy and the long and ongoing struggle for liberty which is unfinished work. I was reminded of this at our school culture summit this weekend at which we featured the film Cesar Chavez.
In one scene, the local sheriff comes to see Chavez after complaints about people gathering nightly. When the sheriff emphasizes the importance of being law-abiding, Chavez quickly responds that they do love the law, especially the First Amendment. When a hearing with Robert F. Kennedy is shown, Kennedy calls that same sheriff to task by telling him that during the break he should read the U.S. Constitution. To me, such scenes remind me both of the power of putting these ideals into words during the founding of our country, even if the ideal was not yet a reality, and the recognition that these words are a call to action to all of us to try to reach that ideal in our own interactions.