Fashion and Facing History

Posted by Liz Vogel on September 23, 2020

Retail therapy in support of Facing History? Yes please!

From September 23 - October 2, the online auction Chic Relief will benefit Facing History and Ourselves. I had the chance to chat with Elizabeth Stewart, celebrity stylist, and founder of the online fashion platform.

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Topics: Los Angeles, anti-racism

Sharing BIPOC Women of California Resources

Posted by Mary Hendra on September 4, 2020

This week,@FacingHistoryLA shone a special spotlight on California women who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color. These are women who have shaped California and many times the nation. Below are all of those visuals, with the links shared on Twitter to further explore their stories. 

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but our contribution to the body of knowledge and resources available to teachers - a curation of individuals whose stories and legacy can be explored through Facing History resources. (Listed alphabetically.) Who else should be included in California classrooms?  Share your thoughts - and resources - in the comments below!

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Topics: Los Angeles, California

Spotlight on BIPOC Women of California

Posted by Mary Hendra on August 23, 2020

Political conventions coincide with the start of school in California this year, presenting a unique nexus of past, present, and future for teachers.  The nomination of Kamala Harris as a Vice Presidential candidate shows the value in teaching the significance of both contemporary and historic as we have seen that her candidacy has provided an opportunity to dive deeper into the work and legacy of Charlotta Bass.

This week, follow Facing History LA on Twittter @FacingHistoryLA for a special spotlight on women who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color who, like Charlotta Bass, have shaped California and many times the nation. Some had wide visibility even during their own time. Others took a stand which was built on later.

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Topics: Los Angeles, Social Justice

Charlotta Bass Changed the Way I Understand History

Posted by Marti Tippens Murphy on August 21, 2020

I’m delighted that one of the outcomes of Kamala Harris’ historic achievement as the first Black woman on a major party ticket for vice president is that more people are now hearing about Charlotta Bass. I don’t believe it detracts from Senator Harris’ moment at all; learning about Charlotta Bass right now illuminates the long history of Black women’s leadership in civic life, as well as how often it is erased from history. If you have never heard of Charlotta Bass before now, you are not alone. Most people living in Los Angeles where she lived and worked for decades have never heard of her. That should be shocking given her many accomplishments over her career, and her prominence in the civic life of Los Angeles. 

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Topics: Los Angeles, black history

Happy Birthday, Biddy Mason!

Posted by Guest Blogger on August 15, 2020

“If you hold your hand closed, nothing good can come in. The open hand is blessed, for it gives in abundance, even as it receives.” (Biddy Mason)

Bridget “Biddy” Mason lived her entire life with her hands always open to give. In return she received many blessings.

Biddy was born enslaved on August 15, 1818 in Macon County, Georgia. Although she was forbidden to learn how to read or write, she was able to learn skills that served her well throughout her life: How to tend to livestock, use herbs and roots to make medicine, nursing skills, and midwifery. When she was eighteen years old she was given as a wedding gift to Robert and Rebecca Smith. The Smiths, who were devout Mormons, decided to leave Logtown, Mississippi for a settlement in Salt Lake City, Utah. On March 10, 1848, Biddy, who had just given birth to her third daughter, had to walk behind the 300 covered wagons. During this long journey, Biddy tended to the sheep while carrying her infant daughter Harriet in her arms. Daughters Ellen and Ann walked beside her. She also cared for anyone who go sick along the way. The Smith household lived in Utah for three years. When the Mormon church leaders decided to establish a new post in San Bernardino, California, Robert Smith decided to move his family again. They arrived in San Bernardino in 1851.

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Topics: Los Angeles, Upstander

Civic Imagination, Civic Action

Posted by Mary Hendra on June 1, 2020

Over the last 2 months, I've had the immense pleasure of interviewing three individuals with unique and powerful perspectives on civic engagement.

  • Dolores Huerta, civil rights icon and co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association, whose activism for 7 decades inspires and compels others to act.
  • Eric Marcus, whose interviews of LGBTQ civil rights activists (now shared through the Making Gay History podcast) illuminates the courage of individuals to raise their voices even when others don't want to hear them.
  • Henry Jenkins, whose research on the intersection of participatory culture and pop culture provide new insight into understanding civic participation in a digital age.

But perhaps the most inspirational are the stories that come from LA Facing History Partnership Schools each year around this time - individuals and groups whose upstanding make a concrete difference every day in the lives and future of our Southern California students and communities.

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Topics: Upstanders, Los Angeles, Upstander

Violins of Hope LIVE concert 4/17/20

Posted by Mary Hendra on April 14, 2020

This year, Facing History LA had the pleasure of collaborating with The Soraya for some beautiful programming and teacher support in relation to the Violins of Hope project.

Violins of Hope features violins that were owned and played by European Jews before the Holocaust. Over the past 20 years, the violins have been recovered and restored by Israeli luthier (violin maker and repairer) Amnon Weinstein.  Los Angeles was to play host this Spring to violins from this collection in both museums and theaters, and teachers throughout the city were bringing these stories to their students.

Despite all of the cancelled events during this time, we are thrilled to share that the Soraya will still be able to bring Niv Ashkenazi and his priceless violin to teachers and students - and this is now an OPEN event available to a wider audience.  All are invited to join this LIVE broadcast on Friday, April 17, 2020 at 4:00PM. 

Prepare your students in advance with this lesson: Music as a Survival Tool.

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Topics: Holocaust, Los Angeles

How Freedom's Word Found the Bondman

Posted by Liz Vogel on February 12, 2020

On February 12, 1909, The Los Angeles Times published a front page article written by Jefferson Edmonds, a newspaper editor and political activist. How Freedom’s Word Found the Bondman is Jefferson’s first-hand account of Emancipation; he was born into slavery in Mississippi. 

Jefferson's opening sentence, When in 1619 that old Dutch kidnapper sold twenty negroes as slaves to the Virginians, only a god could have foreseen the tremendous, far-reaching results that that little transaction was to produce.” is a prescient foreshadowing of the historical reckoning elevated by The New York Times’ 1619 Project, 110 years later. 

And his words, “If we erase from American history the pages that the negro’s presence caused to be written, it would be a short, uninteresting story.” are as timely in 2020, as we consider Black History Month critically - isn’t Black History, American History? - as it was when Jefferson wrote his account.

On this anniversary date of the original publication, we share the full text of Jefferson’s article below. Want more?


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Topics: Reconstruction, Los Angeles, Slavery

Southern California Museums 2020

Posted by Mary Hendra on January 25, 2020

Every year around this time, Southern California Museums open their doors for free.  And while the official "Free-for-All day" was today, there are many more opportunities to see these great institutions which contribute to and reflect our region. This year, we wanted to do a quick shout-out to some of our museum partners who have not only participated in the annual Free-for-All day but have opened their doors to us in the past and in the future.  We hope to see you at one of these events!

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Topics: Los Angeles, workshop, Community Event

Righting a Wrong

Posted by Mary Hendra on January 13, 2020

We are excited to partner with the Smithsonian Institution and the Japanese American National Museum to offer 100 Southern California educators a free 8-poster set based on the Smithsonian's exhibition, Righting a Wrong, tracing the story of Japanese national and Japanese American incarceration during World War II.

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Topics: Los Angeles, Japanese American Incarceration

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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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