Every year, Facing History Los Angeles convenes our partnership schools for a summit on school culture. Students, parents, teachers, and administrators consider key ideas in how to create a more compassionate, engaged school community that can delve together into the critical issues of our times.
Our October 2018 Summit on School Culture focused on the role of allies in seeing and standing up against injustice, beginning with the documentary And Then They Came for Us. This film clearly activated the intellectual rigor, emotional engagement, and ethical reflection of our pedagogical triangle for the students, teachers and parents in attendance. Whether you attended the event or not, this film, accessible for free on our web site, offers you a timely resource for promoting engaged citizenship and dialogue in your community.
And Then they Came for Us weaves together history and present day issues. Featuring actor and activist George Takei along with other Japanese Americans who were forced into incarceration on America’s West Coast in 1942, the film describes the Constitutional rights violations that took place during internment, and how in 2016 Japanese Americans began to speak out against the proposed Muslim registry and travel ban. In just 47 minutes, the film’s first-person accounts, combined with contemporary footage and historical images, mobilized our audience to consider the importance of Upstanders.
After the screening at the Summit, a group of administrators discussed how they might share And Then They Came for Us on their campuses. Their ideas are included in the list below to inspire you as well:
- Show the film in American History courses. It will help students consider the connections between events in World War II and in America today. We also offer this teaching resource, which asks "How Should We Remember the Internment of Japanese Americans during World War II?"
- Partner it with Farewell to Manzanar, using Facing History's newly revised teaching guide.
- Use it with student organizations such as service teams, affinity groups, or social justice clubs, focusing on the role engaged citizens play in addressing injustice.
- Tie it in with an art program, examining the role of art as storytelling, protest and voice, using the examples of photography from Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams, whose photographs play an important role in our understanding of internment camps, and whose images play an important role in the film.
- Bring in as a guest speaker a survivor of one of the camps, such as Sam Mihara, who spoke at our Summit.
- Follow the screening with a visit to the Japanese American National Museum - a treasured part of the LA community with exhibits which can help students dive deeper into the time period and legacy of Japanese American incarceration.
Do you have more ideas? Share them with us below. We welcome your comments.