American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

ASHP/CML at the American Historical Association Annual Conference

Published March 30, 2011

On January 3, 2009, ASHP/CML presented a panel on “Many Movements: Teaching Black Freedom Struggles from World War II to the 1960s” at the American Historical Association’s (AHA) Annual Conference held in New York City. The session was part of a daylong “Teaching Workshop for the National History Education Clearinghouse,” which the AHA added to the conference as part of its broader outreach efforts to K-12 social studies teachers. ASHP staffers Ellen Noonan and Leah Potter were joined by high school teachers from one of ASHP’s Teaching American History (TAH) programs: Greg Bernardi (Franklin D. Roosevelt High School) and Beth Vershleiser (Brooklyn Studio School).

Ellen discussed how ASHP’s professional development approach to the civil rights movement has been shaped by the scholarship of Komozi Woodard, Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, and other historians who have argued for taking a longer and larger look at the chronology, geography, and goals of the struggle. Leah facilitated a discussion on two primary sources of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom: a photograph of women marchers carrying signs demanding decent housing, integrated schools, jobs, and voting rights (pictured) and a 1941 flier by A. Phillip Randolph calling for a mass March on Washington to protest racial discrimination and demand federal jobs. Greg and Beth shared their experiences developing a classroom lesson to teach a broader view of civil rights protest methods. The lesson, entitled “We Shall Overcome-But How? Strategies of the Civil Rights Movement,” asks students to examine photos and first-person accounts of a range of people, places, and struggles, and then to choose what strategies they would use to protest the injustice.

The audience responded to the panel presentation favorably and appreciated Beth and Greg, who spoke with tremendous candor, sincerity, and courage about the challenges and rewards of teaching history.

For more information on the panel, see the ASHP blog posting.

March on Washington, August 1963
Source: Warren K. Leffler, "Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C.," photograph (U.S. News & World Report, 1963); from Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division,
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