Next year marks the 50th and 150th anniversaries of two momentous events in American history: the March on Washington (August 28, 1963) and the Emancipation Proclamation (took effect January 1, 1863). In December, the National Museum of American History will open a new exhibition on these two events, and as we are planning related events and resources, we wanted to get your feedback on how these events are taught in classrooms.
Our current discussions for programming include a series of panel discussions on general themes related to the Civil War and civil rights movement: oratory/speech making, violent protest/rioting versus nonviolent protest, photography, presidential politics/assassination, etc. We wondered, do you ever teach these thematically? Will you change the way you look at these events next year, given the anniversaries?
We were also looking at expanding our current resource, Exploring the Gettysburg Address, to discuss speech writing more broadly with the “I Have a Dream” speech. Do you teach these speeches together, and if so, what advice do you have for us?
Or, we have discussed bringing elements of Emancipation eve celebrations--music, speeches, dramatic readings of poetry--to the Museum to help visitors see how the moment was commemorated. Would teachers be interested in classroom-friendly guides to these celebrations?
I look forward to hearing from you! And, if you're visiting Washington, the exhibit should open toward the end of December of this year and will be up through August of 2013.
National Museum of American History
Thanks for the heads up on this, Naomi! I hadn't realized that these specific anniversaries were coming up, and I'm really curious to see others' responses.
To add to what you've listed, ARTSEDGE has a Civil War theme with lessons, audio stories, and multimedia that focus on how important letter writing was for communicating within the military and to loved ones; how music was used for inspiration, showing your loyalty to either the North or South, and impacting President Lincoln's presidency. I think it'd be great for the museum to incorporate the importance of music as it impacted the then of the Civil War (to add to your reflection of music during the eve of Emancipation celebration). Or you could also more generally compare the significance of oratory communication with written communication during the Civil War time, considering the idea of literacy as it would've existed for those directly impacted with emancipation versus the more accessible use of music and speech.
As someone in the D.C. area, I'm making a calendar note to check out the National Museum of American History since there's no excuse not to!
Thanks for the reply, Tiffany. Do come down and see the exhibition--it should be quite moving. I should have noted in my initial post that this is a joint project with the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the collections will come from both museums as well as other museums and private collections.
Those are great ideas, and thanks for sharing your links. I had some trouble opening them, so I want to be sure everyone can find the ARTSEDGE Civil War theme. I'm including it here: http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/themes/civil-war.aspx
EDSITEment has a lesson on the Emancipation Proclamationhttp://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plan/emancipation-proclamation-freedoms-first-steps which is part of our Civil War collection of lessons on the history, politics, and literature of the war http://edsitement.neh.gov/american-civil-war
In addition we want to highight a new resource developed with NEH funding by scholars at the U of Richmond, Visualizing Emancipation which tells the complex story of emancipation by mapping documentary evidence of black men and women's activities along with the movements of Union soldiers.