Friday, March 14, 2014

Chapter 18

We opened class with many of you sharing your homework about Vietnam from last week, and I enjoy seeing how each of you take the assignments and make them your own. Thank you for the time you spend on these assignments!

After listening to Bob Dylan's Master of War, we discussed the meaning of the lyrics. Here they are again for anyone who would like to read them:

Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks.

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly.

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain.

You fasten all the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion'
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud.

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins.

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
That even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do.

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul.

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand over your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead.

For next week, please read Chapter 19 and choose ONE of the following:

What is feminism? How did the movement begin? What achievements have feminists made? What gains remain to be made?


What are the similarities between the women’s rights, gay rights, prisoners’ rights, and Native American rights movements? How are they interconnected? Why do you think all these movements arose at approximately the same time? What was it about the 1960s that allowed, and even encouraged, protest?


Should prisoners be allowed to organize in prison? What do you think the role of the prison should be—rehabilitation or punishment? What are the pros and cons of each position?


Where is Pine Ridge Reservation? What conditions led to the American Indian Movement (AIM) confrontation at Pine Ridge? Do you think the actions of the AIM activists were justified? Why, or why not?


Compose a protest song or poem on a contemporary topic/issue about which you are committed. In your composition, be sure to provide clues about what you are protesting, why you are committed to this topic, and how you think things should be changed.


Learn more about the historical origins, goals, and activities of the Black Panther Party. How many of its goals was it able to achieve? How were its growth and actions influenced by white public opinion? By the FBI? What happened to the party? To some of its best-known members? What other groups have been involved in an organized black-power movement during the latter decades of the twentieth century? What have been their goals and accomplishments?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Chapter 17

In class today, we discussed the Civil Rights movement, and I was very impressed with everyone's homework assignments.

For next week, please read Chapter 18 and the passage from Daniel Ellsberg’s Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers and choose ONE of the following:

Listen to and read the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s song “Masters of War.” What lyrics did you find most effective? Why? Who are the “Masters of War” in this song? What is the significance of that title? What role did music play in the Vietnam War—both for the soldiers and those involved in the antiwar movement? What songs were especially influential?


Some people have argued that racism played a big role in the Vietnam War. Do you believe racism was a key element in the Vietnam War? Why, or why not?


Take a position for or against the Vietnam War, using evidence from your reading and at least one additional source to support your position.


Create a political cartoon that clearly illustrates one of the arguments for or against the war in Vietnam.


Compose a song or poem that expresses an emotion associated with the Vietnam War.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Chapter 16

Today we discovered with some certainty that one class period is NOT enough time to discuss World War 2 and the McCarthy Era in much detail. Nonetheless, we enthusiastically dived into the subject matter!

We began the class by reviewing last week's homework assignment. As always, I loved seeing the different selections and approaches you each took with your assignments. Thank you to those who chose to share in class, and I apologize to those who wanted to share more when we ran out of time.

While examining history, we ALWAYS need to be mindful of our sources. Today I reminded you that Howard Zinn was a bombardier in World War 2 and that he maintained vocal pacifist views for most of his life following the War. This is NOT the same video we watched in class, but another Howard Zinn video in which he talks about the details of his experience in the War. Please give it a watch!

Some of you were surprised when I brought up actor/comedian/activist extraordinaire, George Takei, during our discussion. Though most of you knew who he was, you all seemed fairly surprised to learn that he had grown up in a Japanese internment camp here in the US. We watched him speak about his experiences on the anniversary of Roosevelt's 9066 Executive Order, which gave the American government the authority to deport and imprison over 110,000 Japanese Americans.

For next week, please read Chapter 17 and Martin Luther King, Jr's "Where Do We Go from Here?" and complete ONE of the following:

Affirmative action is a current controversial issue that has arisen from the civil-rights movement. What is affirmative action? What are its goals? Why would such a system be used? Do you think it is an effective way to right socio-economic injustice?


Young people—including thousands of pre-teens and teenagers—formed the core of the civil-rights movement. Knowing the risks, why do you think they got involved? Why do you think their parents allowed them to become involved?


Learn more about the role of religion and song in the civil-rights movement. Investigate their significance and the spiritual motivation they inspired.


Learn more about the historical origins and beliefs of the Nation of Islam (NOI).How did these beliefs influence the civil-rights movement? How did Malcolm X influence the movement? How has the NOI evolved?


View art collections about the civil-rights movement. (I'm not expecting you to visit a museum! Online collections are fine.) Norman Rockwell created some exemplary pieces. What do they tell you about the movement? What do they tell you about the individuals involved? Why would art be created to express the civil-rights movement?


Create a work of art that expresses the goals of any contemporary group of United States residents who currently experience political, social, and/or economic injustice.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Chapter 15

Today in class we discussed the Jazz Age and the Great Depression. We learned about child labor prior to and during the Great Depression, and about how one of the benefits of the New Deal was to place stricter guidelines for child labor in the US. Click here to check out Lewis Hines' photography that captured the essence of child labor in this country so well.

Thank you for watching this depressing video about the Great Depression and discussing what day to day life would have been like for the average American during this time. It was interesting to learn that FDR used the song for his Presidential campaign:

As always, I appreciate your willingness to make our class time into an active discussion. Please remember as you read to make a note of passages that strike you as particularly interesting, and then share with the rest of us.

For next week, read Chapter 16 in your book and complete ONE of the following: (Be ready to talk about them at the beginning of class!)

What was the Harlem Renaissance? What are the most enduring legacies of this period?


What is blacklisting? Do you think it common in the factories during this period? Do you think blacklisting should be legal? Do you think it is still used in workplaces? Explain.


Under the First Amendment, people have the right to peaceably assemble and to freedom of speech. How, then, could people be fired for union membership or support in the 1930s?


Learn more about Prohibition. What were the political maneuverings that preceded the passage of Prohibition? Who supported it, and why? Who opposed it, and why? Why did it take more than seventy years for such a law to pass? Why did it finally pass when it did? When and why was the amendment repealed? What were the short- and long-term consequences of Prohibition?


Imagine what it must have been like to be a working-class teenager during the Great Depression. Your father has lost his job, your family is at risk of losing your home, and none of you—your parents and five brothers and sisters— has enough to eat or enough clothing to keep you warm during the winter. You decide to leave home so that your parents will have one less person to take care of. You promise your parents to write often while you are gone, and to tell them where you are, what you are doing, and how you are managing to keep yourself alive. Compose your letters for the duration of your time away from home.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Chapter 14

Welcome to my history class blog. Last semester, we started here, and there was much rejoicing:

We're now up to Chapter 14 in Howard Zinn's Young People's History of the US, and I thought we might benefit from a blog to help organize our additional readings, assignments, and videos. It can also be a forum to continue our discussions outside of class time.

In class today we discussed Chapter 14 and looked at some World War One recruitment posters:

Then we discussed patriotism and how it relates to the Espionage and Sedition Acts, enjoying a reading of one of Emma Goldman's speeches by actress Sandra Oh:

Several of you shared the information you learned outside of class about Goldman, the Wobblies, and Clara Lemlich. (If anyone is interested in learning more about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, check out this PBS documentary.)

For next class (Feb 13) read Chapter 15 in your book, and complete ONE of the following:

In January 2003 officials at the University of California at Berkeley refused to allow a fund-raising appeal for the Emma Goldman Papers, which are housed on its campus. The appeal contained a quote from Goldman about the suppression of free speech and her opposition to war. The university deemed the topics too political as the United States prepared for a possible military action against Iraq. Find out more about this controversy. Do you think the university officials acted appropriately? Why, or why not? How was the problem resolved? Can you think of any other incidents since the military invasion of Iraq in which similar free-speech issues have arisen? Explain.


More than two thousand people were prosecuted under both the Espionage Act and the Seditions Act, and thousands of others were intimidated into silence. Learn as much as possible about both acts. Was there congressional and/or public opposition to the legislation? How and why was the federal government able to pass such legislation?


The Selective Service Act of 1917 allowed the United States government to raise an army after entering into World War I. Unlike previous draft laws, the new act placed conscientious objectors (COs) under military authority before they obtained religious exemptions, thus making them subject to military justice. Who were COs? What was their historical role in exemption from military service? How were they treated during World War I?


Write a letter to Eugene Debs in prison. In this letter you should outline your opinions on his antiwar stance. In addition, be sure to discuss your thoughts on the Espionage and Sedition Acts.

Super Dooper Bonus Assignment:
Watch this current commercial. What themes are relevant to our class discussions on patriotism?