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Teaching Hard History Podcast

What we don’t know about American slavery hurts us all. From Teaching Tolerance and host Hasan Jeffries, Teaching Hard History brings us the lessons we should have learned in school through the voices of leading scholars and educators. It’s good advice for teachers, good information for everybody.

person freed from shackles and kneeling

Episodes

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Slavery & the Civil War, Part 1

What really caused the Civil War? In this episode, Salem State University Professor Bethany Jay offers tips for teaching lesser-known history that clarifies this question and cuts through our cloudy national understanding of the Confederacy.

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Slavery & the Civil War, Part 2

Dr. Bethany Jay is back to talk about teaching the end of the Civil War, and how enslaved people’s participation in the war helped subvert the institution of slavery.

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Slavery & the Northern Economy

Follow the money. Dr. Christy Clark-Pujara explains why American slavery couldn't have existed without a national commercial infrastructure that supported and benefited from the labor of enslaved people.

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Dealing With Things As They Are: Creating a Classroom Environment

In many ways, the U.S. has fallen short of its ideals. How can we explain this to students—particularly in the context of discussing slavery? Professor Steven Thurston Oliver has this advice for teachers: Face your fears.

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In the Footsteps of Others: Process Drama

Students learning about slavery often ask, “Why didn’t enslaved people just run away or revolt?” Lindsay Anne Randall offers a lesson in “Process Drama”—a method teachers can use to answer this question, build empathy and offer perspective.

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Resistance Means More Than Rebellion

To see a more complete picture of the experience of enslaved people, you have to redefine resistance. Dr. Kenneth S. Greenberg offers teachers a lens to help students see the ways in which enslaved people fought back against the brutality of slavery.

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Diverse Experience of the Enslaved

Most students leave school thinking enslaved people lived like characters in Gone with the Wind. Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens reveals the remarkable diversity of lived experiences within slavery and explains the gap between what scholars and students know.

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Film and the History of Slavery

Film has long shaped our nation's historical memory, for good and bad. Film historian Ron Briley offers ways to responsibly use films in the classroom to reframe the typical narrative of American slavery and Reconstruction.

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(Bonus) Ten More … Film and the History of Slavery

Film historian Ron Briley returns with more documentary, feature film and miniseries suggestions for history and English instructors. From Ken Burns to Black Panther, this episode offers background and strategies for incorporating pop culture into classroom lessons.

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Slavery in the Constitution

Constitutional historian Paul Finkelman explains the deeply racist bargains the founding fathers struck in order to unify the country under one document and discusses what students need to know about how slavery defined America after the Revolution.

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Slavery in the Supreme Court

In the United States, justice was never blind. Historian Paul Finkelman goes beyond legal jargon to illustrate how slavery was entangled with the opinions of the Court—and encoded into the Constitution itself.

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Confronting Hard History at Montpelier

At James Madison’s Montpelier, the legacy of enslaved people isn’t silenced—and their descendants have a voice. Christian Cotz, Price Thomas and Dr. Patrice Preston Grimes explain how that happened, and why it’s important.

 

Drop Us A Line – Your Questions. Your Stories. Your Episode!

A listener’s question leads to a meaningful moment. And now we want more! Take a listen, then email podcast@tolerance.org to tell us your story about teaching hard history for an upcoming, special episode.

 

Slavery Today

Enslavement didn’t end with Emancipation. Historian James Brewer Stewart discusses modern-day slavery happening across the world—and right here in the U.S.—showing educators how to connect the past with the present.