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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Episode 1: 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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Episode 2: 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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Episode 3: 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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Episode 4: 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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Episode 5: 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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Episode 6: 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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Episode 7: 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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Episode 8: 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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Episode 9: (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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Episode 10: 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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Episode 11: 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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Episode 12: 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.

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Episode 13: 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.

 

Episode 14: 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.

 

Coming Soon: Stories From the Classroom (and More)

Over the next few episodes, we're bringing Season One to a close. Tune in for stories from the classroom, guidance for elementary teachers and language arts classes. And answers to questions from listeners like you.

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Episode 15: Classroom Experiences

How it’s done. Tamara Spears teaches middle school Social Studies in New York and Jordan Lanfair is a high school English Language Arts teacher in Chicago. Each has been developing additional lessons about slavery for years. They share their experiences.

 

Episode 16: Sample Lessons

Using the present to explore the past. Tamara Spears and Jordan Lanfair suggest a Social Studies unit about Resistance & Kanye West, and a set of English Language Arts lessons examining holidays to understand the legacy of American slavery.

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Episode 17: Young Adult Trade Books

From elementary to high school, YA literature can introduce fundamental themes and information about slavery, especially when paired with primary sources. John H. Bickford shows how to capitalize on the strengths and weaknesses of trade books about slavery.

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Episode 18: Wrap up: Questions from the Classroom

Historian Bethany Jay returns – answering questions from educators across the country. Host Hasan Kwame Jeffries and the co-editor of Understanding and Teaching American Slavery confront teacher anxieties and counter misconceptions in our season finale.