Statement in Response to the Death of George Floyd

Rally

We value and honor Black lives. The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has sparked national outrage, days of protest, violence, and destruction of property in many cities across the United States, including here in California.  That this is happening in the midst of a pandemic in which communities of color, particularly Black and Latinx Californians, are suffering and dying disproportionately heightens the urgency of the moment. As leaders of the California History-Social Science Project, a statewide network of educators dedicated to improving student understanding of the past, we share the grief and outrage of our fellow citizens.  We understand that this moment is not just about police violence; Floyd’s death is part of a long history of racism in our country.  Thus, we pledge increased support of our teachers’ efforts to: 1) have honest and difficult conversations about this crisis with their students, 2) deepen students’ understanding of the long and complicated history of racial injustice, and 3) develop their students’ capacity to address injustice and improve civil society for the future.

When schools resume in the fall – whether online or in-person – teachers must have both the capacity and courage to engage in difficult discussions with their students about this current crisis.  History-social science teachers are best equipped to help students analyze how the present is shaped by the past and to facilitate a place for meaningful conversations about the ways people are included and excluded in our society. Historical antecedents to this crisis, such as the Memphis Massacre of 1866, the 1919 Chicago race riots, the Tulsa massacre of 1921, the Watts Uprisings of 1965 along with the urban unrest that followed, and the 1992 riots in Los Angeles, can help students critically analyze the patterns of racial discrimination and oppression that followed the end of slavery. We also need to build students’ capacity and willingness to assume their civic responsibilities by exercising their right to protest, to vote, to petition the government, and to demand protection of their basic civil rights.  To honor this, our programs for teachers throughout the 2020-21 school year will provide the space and resources to support and strengthen teachers’ efforts in this important work.

For too long, our discipline has been sidelined as well-intentioned policymakers have prioritized a more narrow curriculum.  This week has demonstrated, once again, the folly of this approach, as it limits our collective understanding of the past and responsibility for the common good.  We pledge to work with state leaders, district and school administrators, and teachers across California to implement an approach to instruction that prioritizes academic, as well as civic, development for the benefit of our entire state and nation. We look forward to working alongside you in these efforts. 

Nancy McTygue, Executive Director, California History-Social Science Project

Stacey Greer, Site Director, UC Davis History Project

Nicole F. Gilbertson, Site Director, UC Irvine History Project

Cindy Mata, Associate Director, UCLA History-Geography Project 

Daniel Diaz, Director, UCLA History-Geography Project

Rachel B. Reinhard, Site Director, UC Berkeley History-Social Science Project

Shennan Hutton, Program Coordinator, California History-Social Science Project

Katharine Cortes, Associate Director, UC Davis History Project

Shelley Brooks, Academic Coordinator, California History-Social Science Project

Devin Hess, Academic Coordinator, UC Berkeley History-Social Science Project

Jason Muñiz, Academic Coordinator, UC Berkeley History-Social Science Project

Phyllis Goldsmith, Special Projects Coordinator, UC Berkeley History-Social Science Project

Lisa Hutton, Site Director, CSU Dominguez Hills History Project

Daisy Martin, Director, The History and Civics Project at UC Santa Cruz

George C. Bunch, Professor of Education and Principal Investigator for The History and          Civics Project at UC Santa Cruz

Emily Howe, Program Manager, The History and Civics Project at UC Santa Cruz 

Charley Brooks, Program Associate, The History and Civics Project at UC Santa Cruz

Erik Bernardino, Program Associate, The History and Civics Project at UC Santa Cruz

Beth Slutsky, Academic Coordinator, California History-Social Science Project

Tuyen Tran, Assistant Director, California History-Social Science Project

Gary F. Dei Rossi, Chair, CHSSP Advisory Board

Stephen Aron, Professor of History, UCLA. CHSSP Advisory Board

Aleida Rojas, History Teacher, East Bakersfield High School. CHSSP Advisory Board 

Ellen Hartigan-O’Connor, Associate Professor of History & Associate Dean for Graduate  Studies, UC Davis.  CHSSP Statewide Faculty Advisor & Advisory Board

Emily Albu, Professor of Classics Emerita, UC Davis. CHSSP Advisory Board

Amanda Hills Podany, Professor of History, Cal Poly Pomona. CHSSP Advisory Board

Mary Marki, Professor of History, Long Beach City College. CHSSP Advisory Board

Beverly Bossler, Professor of History, UC Davis. CHSSP Statewide Faculty Advisor & Advisory Board

Pedro Nava, Professor, School of Education, Mills College.  CHSSP Advisory Board

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