Back in May, participants at our 3rd 1882 Symposium heard from Social Studies specialists in Alexandria City and Fairfax County, Va. about ways in which we can highlight Asian American stories and make it more likely that teachers will use them as examples within their courses. We have been working on ways to influence state boards of education and legislators to be more inclusive of the role Asian Americans have played in the history of the United States. A key emphasis has been on showing that topics such as civil rights, labor, westward expansion, economics, and more are all full of Asian American experiences that are not just relevant but fundamentally important to understanding this country’s history. We have committed ourselves to building partnerships with other organizations and institutions so that we can create a resource center for teachers and the public that will provide the knowledge, information, and means to make our stories truly a part of the whole American story. Those of you who read about “1882” are encouraged to send along your thoughts as we move forward.
Michael Hussey from the National Archives also spoke about the resources there and mentioned that in July, 16 teachers would be attending a workshop specifically dealing with Chinese immigration. I’m pleased to say that I was able to present information about the Foundation and see some of the work that teachers were doing: uncovering many new documents, digitizing them and creating lessons that will become accessible through the Archives “Docs Teach” online program. Many documents are already available, as you may know, and one lesson on Wong Kim Ark is especially timely given the concerns raised recently about the 14th Amendment and birthright citizenship.
Ted Gong and I also had an opportunity to showcase a lesson and a screening of the film Through Chinatown’s Eyes: April 1968 for teachers in Fairfax County as part of their Teacher In-service program just before schools re-opened this fall. The film captures the tensions in the city that followed the assassination of Martin Luther King and the impact the riots had on the Chinese community here. It is also an important story of a “minority among a minority” and the struggle to find one’s identity during a difficult time.
Coming up soon during the week of Sept. 26 though Oct. 3rd is a commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and the Immigration and Nationalization Act (Hart-Celler) that the 1882 Foundation and the Alexandria Black History Museum have organized. Here’s a link to the week’s schedule:
From the Curriculum Corner’s perspective, the education workshop scheduled for Fri., Oct. 2nd is noteworthy as we will be presenting a full day of activities, lessons, and discussions around the intersection of civil rights and the Asian American immigrant experience. The theme for the day is the World Comes To Us: A Fresh Look at What We Teach and the Students We Teach.” We will be looking at comparative historical timelines of civil rights and immigration, specific stories about the African American and Asian American experiences, and delving into the demographic changes that have transformed the area and the nation since 1965. Another one of our collaborators, Katie Orr of the National Park Service, will be presenting a lesson on the Rosenwald Schools, many of which were built in Virginia.
One of my more immediate goals is to get a number of lessons made available for teachers on this site. So we’re staying busy and on a track to reach out to as many of you as we can. Let us know of ideas and of information you wish to share.