Announcing: A GALLERY of Upstanders!

Posted by Mary Hendra on May 24, 2021

Have you ever wished you could share stories of inspiration with young people about individuals they might connect with and relate to? The stories of Martin Luther King, Jr., Dolores Huerta, Bayard Rustin, Anna May Wong and others are amazing, but sometimes they can feel inaccessible as role models. At least, it feels a little overwhelming to go from where we are now, to what they achieved, without a deep dive into their journeys. 

We have a gift for you!

Each year, Los Angeles area Facing History partnership schools cultivate a culture of upstanding, and celebrate that upstanding at the end of the year by recognizing actions taken by middle and high school students. This year, we're thrilled to share that recognition in an online gallery! And below, a few ways to use it with young people, whether your students or simply individuals you seek to inspire.

What is an Upstander?

/ʌpstandə/    noun
A person who speaks or acts in support of an individual or cause, particularly someone who intervenes on behalf of a person being attacked or bullied.

Did you know two students helped get the word "Upstander" in the dictionary? They studied the importance of speaking up and making positive change, and were surprised that the term -- coined by diplomat Samantha Power and popularized by Facing History and Ourselves -- wasn't already recognized. So they worked, as Upstanders do, to find a solution.  



What does upstanding look like during a pandemic?

Check out these student upstanders in the Gallery. Even small actions to make human connections with others mean so much for someone to feel seen while remote. These actions help build a sense of resiliency, agency and purpose.


Can students still work in groups when school is conducted remotely?

Yes! Check out the upstanding and impact of these student groups.


How have LA school leaders engaged with issues of social and racial equity during this unusual year?

See examples from individuals and groups of upstanders.


We hope this Upstander Gallery will become an additional resource how young people can explore what it means to be part of a community and how they can choose to participate.  Want additional concrete strategies for doing this?

  • With a young person who has struggled this year: Read just one of the individual stories. Then discuss: what is one action they did which you admire? 
  • With any young people in your life who want to do more: After reading about the actions taken by a few Upstanders in the gallery, consider these 10 Questions together to think about what motivates them to take action.
  • In a History/Social Sciences class: Encourage specific connections with a virtual gallery walk by inviting students to make Text-to-Text, Text-to-Self, and Text-to-World Connections
  • In an English/Language Arts class: Encourage personal reflection by introducing the See-Think-Wonder protocol before students explore the gallery.
  • In a Civics Class: Explore how the Levers of Power were used by a particular upstander or upstander group, or how they could be used as a next step. This lesson includes a PDF for the Levers and an explanation of how it could be applied to stories.
  • In Advisory: Have students write 2 notes:
    • A note of appreciation to an upstander in the gallery
    • A note of encouragement to themselves. What would you encourage yourself to do after reading somebody’s description?
  • In a Media class: Amplify the work of the Upstander by using it as inspiration to make PSA or visual social media campaign encouraging others to do the same.


Share additional ideas in the comments below!

Topics: Upstanders, Los Angeles, Upstander

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This blog helps Southern California teachers connect directly with each other, share ideas, and learn about new resources and opportunities for those interested in or already implementing Facing History.

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