When I taught U.S. history, early in the semester my students were required to read and discuss Abigail Adams' letter dated March 31, 1776 to her husband John. In it, Adams asks that her husband not forget about women's rights while fighting for America's independence from Great Britain. She wrote,
If you mention the Great Wall, most people automatically think of a brick fortification built in the seventh century that remains symbolic of Chinese culture and history. Did you know, however, that there is a "Great Wall" right here in town? If you have never seen or heard of the Great Wall of Los Angeles, allow me to introduce you to an amazing cultural and artistic wonder of our city - one that could easily be adapted as a teaching tool for your classroom.
What helps you stay committed to social justice and/or to the field of teaching?
Anne Frank. The name and the face are instantly recognizable to millions of people throughout the world. And whether we think of Anne's legacy as one of a prodigious literary genius, an unfailing optimist, an insightful adolescent, or as a representative of the plight of Jews during World War II, the one word that we most closely associate with her is diary. Anne Frank received that now-famous diary on June 12, 1942 for her thirteenth birthday. Had she survived the Holocaust, Anne Frank would be 85 today.
I’d taught the story of Kitty Genovese for years and thought I’d read all there was to read on it. I was convinced that I knew the story. It had touched me deeply, shocked me, and moved me. Perhaps that was the problem, I had become far too comfortable with an uncomfortable story, and stopped exploring, asking, questioning. For an old man it was a rookie mistake and one that I’d unfortunately made every year for 16 years.