This post is by Jessica Tyson, a California public high school history teacher on sabbatical in Philadelphia.
Today, December 7th, we honor the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Regardless of age, the title of this blog in a quote by Franklin Roosevelt that is difficult to forget. As a nation, it has been forged into our psyche. We remember parents, and grandparents, talking about the effect of this day on their lives and families. This date is proof that a moment in time, such as the attack on Pearl Harbor, can change the course of history and human events.
“Judas sold only one man, Arnold three million” – Benjamin Franklin
When the 19th Amendment was ratified on this day in 1920, Philadelphia was the largest city and Pennsylvania was by far the largest state in which women had not previously had the right to vote.
The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and now the nomination of our first female presidential candidate by a major political party - the list does not stop there as Philadelphia is a city of firsts. Another first for Philadelphia happened at the 1948 presidential convention, when the Democrats, Republicans, and Progressives all hosted conventions here in Philadelphia. These conventions made history as the first to be televised, yet they also were well-known for large scale protests, specifically against a Civil Rights platform.
"If I say goodbye the nation learns to move on. It outlives me when I'm gone" -- President George Washington from the musical Hamilton
Sometimes taking the extra minute to dive into the history of a document can help uncover an array of information previously unconsidered. The Pope’s Dream, is often used with students in our archives to illustrate the anti-Irish sentiment in the United States at the end of the 19th century.
Many of us know the story of the late Cassius Clay who denounced his “slave name,” converted to Islam, and became known as Muhammad Ali, the greatest boxer of all time. Yet, many do not know, that the future Muhammad Ali was named after Cassius M. Clay, an abolitionist from Kentucky, who spent his life fighting for his beliefs. One has to wonder if Muhammad Ali knew that, like him, his namesake was not one to back down from a fight even against all odds.
Native American history can be an interesting conundrum for many teachers since it can be difficult to find the voice of native people over the abundant voice of white people speaking for, or about, Native Americans, often with misguided interpretations. One of the earliest accounts we have of Native American resistance is a speech made by the famous Shawnee, Tecumseh, when he spoke to the Osages in the winter of 1811-1812.
In honor of Black History Month, we are celebrating W.E.B Du Bois’ birthday. Du Bois was born on February 23, 1868 into a world where slavery was abolished, yet the struggle for African Americans to gain equal rights still persisted. He was a Civil Rights activist, co-founder of the NAACP, and paved the way in higher education by becoming the first African American to receive a Ph.D. from Harvard University.