Tag Archives: African American

Videos for the Classroom: For Love of Liberty: The Story of America’s Black Patriots

I’m kicking myself for forgetting this: all this hubbub around the beginning of the school year and I missed the premiere of an important film.

This past September, PBS aired the documentary For Love of Liberty: The Story of America’s Black Patriots.  It chronicles the triumphs and struggles of African Americans in combat from the American Revolution to today’s struggles in Iraq and Afghanistan.  One of the main themes is the bravery and skill of these soldiers in the face of a double-standard: often, their treatment in the armed forces mirrored their second-class position back on the home front. 

As the country was born, grew and developed, so too did African American soldiers contribute in every step of the way, often thanklessly.  During the Revolution, many Blacks joined both the British and American ranks (though many more joined the British side) in the futile hope of achieving freedom.  That same hope propelled Blacks to contribute with honor in the Civil War.  In the subsequent World Wars, Blacks struggled to maintain dignity and assert their rights as citizens, even with segregated units, white officers, substandard equipment and provisions, and a hostile Jim Crow America upon their return.  Finally, Blacks are represented in massive numbers in today’s military, even as a Black president finally takes office in 2009.

Often, these types of documentaries get tedious, slow, and brutally long.  The US Army, and thanks to the folks at the Social Studies and History Teachers Blog, part of Multimedia Learning LLC, put together a shortened version of the film to be used in classrooms, each segment focusing on a specific area of history.  There are even facilitator guides for high school and college that augment the viewing with questions, project ideas and lesson plans.

Below is the shortened film in 9 segments.  These classroom-ready 3-5 minute chunks are perfect for your classrooms, along with the facilitator guides.  Let us know how you like them.

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Mr. D’s official Guide to the Holidays—an Introduction

The holidays are among the most dangerous time of year for a teacher.

It isn’t enough that you have shopping, decorating, cooking, wrapping and holiday card writing for your own family.  Now you have 25 other little minions on your to-do list—and no socks, please.  Then there’s the recycling of 10-year old garlands and a 70’s era Santa Claus to make the room look “festive” and get the administrators off your back.  The whole room needs to be scrubbed and cleaned for the winter recess, and the regs don’t allow you to use the ready-made labor force of your 25 cherubs.

If this were not enough, there may be an ACLU lawyer ready to pounce on you at any moment.  Still calling it “Christmas vacation?”  Yitzhak, Abdul and Ahmad X would like to have a word with you.

Not only are the holidays a strain on your time, finances, and sanity.  They provide the yearly arena for the most knock-down, drag-out fights about the separation of church and state.  Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, even Ramadan (depending on the year) fight for your attention on the holiday table.

At least one town in America has a good media-fueled circus over a community nativity scene, a menorah, a kinara or some other important object that pisses off somebody—anybody.  The nativity scene features characters straight out of a Nazi propaganda film.  Punks are stealing the bulbs off the menorah again, even after night 4 when the four Jewish families in town couldn’t care less.  There are complaints from the three Black families that the Kwanzaa kinara isn’t as tall as the menorah with the missing bulbs.  Muslims just want to nibble on something—even if it means ticking off everybody to do it.

Mr. D has your solution.  This holiday season, make sure all your celebrations are equally worthless.

I’ve found that the best way to defuse a situation is to make sure that everyone is equally pissed off.  To that end, we here at the Neighborhood are providing some helpful talking points to give you a good laugh—and give your more zealous colleagues some serious heartburn.

Each week, we’ll be skewering a new holiday—and nothing is sacred.  Was Mary simply covering up the fact she was “knocked up”?  Weren’t the Maccabees fighting a foregone conclusion: Hebrew itself was Hellenized, after all?  Does an artificial holiday with cornstalks and dashikis really make up for the 400-year screw job received by African Americans?  Doesn’t Ramadan contribute to the irrational nature of the Middle East?  I’m delusional without a morning coffee.

Please return for our first installment next week: Thanksgiving.

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