Jessica Smith-Peterson received the 2019 Los Angeles Upstander Award from Facing History this Spring. Jessica holds a special place in our hearts having been a student in one of our LA classrooms a dozen years ago! Since that first introduction to upstanding rather than bystanding and her first actions to challenge injustice on her own campus, Jessica has gone on to get her law degree, advance immigrant rights, and teach formerly convicted persons how to restore their voting rights. Upon receiving the award, she shared how Facing History “opened up a world wider than I could have imagined” and taught her how to walk in someone else’s shoes, a skill that is vital in her work today as a public defender.
Have you been inspired by our #LAUpstander stories? Join us!
Become a social ambassador by sharing your #LAUpstander stories. Use the hashtag #LAUpstander, tag us at @FacingHistoryLA, and share short stories of your own upstanding or that of others. Feel free to share our social media logo (below)!
Are you a teacher? check out this mini-unit based on 10 Questions for Young Changemakers developed by Harvard’s Professor Danielle Allen and the Youth Participatory Politics Network.
Are you a student or school leader? Or do you want to step up into leadership at your school? Get others thinking about upstanding at your next club, school, or faculty meeting with this 20-minute activity:
When I think of what it means to be an ally, I think of a protest I attended in 1994. I was marching along with countless other Latinos carrying flags from Mexico, El Salvador, and other Latin American countries. When I looked more closely at the crowd, I noticed that there were also whites, Asian Americans, and African Americans in the mass of people moving down Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard. The crowd moved peacefully, almost gracefully, as the sun beat down overhead. We wore t-shirts and jeans, hats, and sunglasses to guard against the sun’s glare. It was a Sunday and, depending on who you talked to, there were between 60,000 and 100,000 people on the streets that day.
"Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you." - Ruth Bader Ginsburg
When educators gathered for our Los Angeles Partnership School Network Symposium at the Skirball Cultural Center earlier this year, they came to share ideas, learn from one another, and, as an extra bonus, visit the museum’s Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The exhibit was perfect inspiration for schools which cultivate upstanding in their schools.
Each year, Los Angeles Facing History Partnership Schools are invited to nominate upstanders in their school community - individuals and groups whose actions have made a difference in the lives of others. In 2018, we are pleased to recognize the following upstanders, each described in the words of their nominator
In order to be strong and powerful, you have to know who you are first."
Sana Amanat, Director of Content & Character Development at Marvel Entertainment, shared the thought above with students and educators at the 2016 celebration of Upstanders from Facing History Los Angeles Partnership Schools. On stage, Amanat shared how inspired she was by the students, who she credited with being further along than she was at their age by already making a difference. The students were inspired by Sana to find their own voice and continue contributing to a more diverse and compassionate world.
Every year, we invite all of the Los Angeles area Facing History partnership schools to nominate a member of their school community who has been an "upstander," someone who makes a difference in small and large ways. Want to be inspired? Read the nominations in their own words below, and then join us on Thursday, April 28th to celebrate with these schools and the amazing Sana Anamat, co-creator of Ms. Marvel! (Click here for more information.)
There are a lot of student opportunities at this time of year which could be engaging for students in a Facing History classroom. Here are a few that have come our way. Have you heard of others? Post them below to share with other teachers!
As part of Facing History and Ourselves’ second annual Facing History Together Student Essay Contest, “Student Voices: To Kill a Mockingbird in Today’s World,” middle and high school students across the U.S. have the opportunity to win individual and classroom prizes up to $2,500.
LA2050 is an initiative that invites us all to innovate, imagine and create the future of Los Angeles. Facing History LA has a vision for strengthening the opportunity for youth to shape Los Angeles to be more compassionate, more engaged. Here one teacher shares his experience of this work. If you like what you read, vote for us in the LA2050 competition and share with others! We'd love to give this opportunity to youth from all over Los Angeles.