April 12th, I was a guest at Chicago’s branch of Facing History and Ourselves, as they celebrated 25 years of educating educators. For those of you unfamiliar with this organization, what they do is teach the teachers so that the messages relative to history are far more understandable to our students. Learning about segregation, The Holocaust, bullying that have been around for a long time, in an up-close and personal way, makes for a stronger impact on those being taught.
Here are some amazing facts:
Facing History and Ourselves helps over 4.1 million students worldwide EVERY year!
Facing History and Ourselves teaches the connection between history and moral choices that students confront in their own lives.
Facing History and Ourselves ensures that generations to come will be informed about real struggles that others have lived through, so no one can ever say “they never happened”
To truly see what this organization has brought to our city, visit www.facinghistory.org and click at Chicago
The organization began in Boston and fifteen years later, expanded to Chicago thanks to the work and energy of Judy Wise and Bonnie Oberman, the two women who were honored at the celebration last night. Through the work of these women and those many who joined them over the years, Chicago has become a major arm of this organization, which is now World-Wide. Hearing the stories that young adults conveyed to us about how having this program taught in their local schools during 8th grade changed their lives, makes us aware of the changes that knowledge can bring to our young people.
At the celebration, we heard from Dr. Terrence Robert, a member of the historic “Little Rock Nine”, a group of African-American students who in 1957 attended Little Rock Central High School. I was a student at Senn High School in Chicago’s Rogers Park at that time and very little was talked about there. Not having the social media that exists today and only have a few Television stations, we were only told what they wanted us to know, but after a major protest, President Eisenhower sent in the troops to protect these students. In 1999 President Clinton awarded all nine the Congressional Gold Medal.
Facing History and Ourselves-Chicago will continue to expand their teacher network allowing them to reach more schools, teachers and students. As the world goes forward with lots of technology, we must never lose sight of the historical past that molds our young people’s futures. With the guidance of this organization and those many educators who make this a part of their lives, I am anxious to be at the 50 year celebration and see the progress that our world has experienced.
To learn more, get involved or to make a donation, visit www.facinghistory.org