Category: thomas jefferson

+

The “True” American History?: Part I

Speaking at the White House Conference on American History, Trump stated, “On this very day in 1787, our Founding Fathers signed the Constitution at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. It was the fulfillment of a thousand years of Western civilization.” In this statement, and throughout the entire event, speakers railed against the the destruction of the “true” history of America’s founding and growth. They spoke … Read More The “True” American History?: Part I

+

“Rosa” and The Formation of an American Literature

At first, teaching Rosa, or American Genius and Education (1810) in an early American literature survey course seemed somewhat daunting. I frame my courses around conversations, typically beginning with David Walker and Thomas Jefferson then moving around through time and region back and forth from the colonial to the early nineteenth century. I do this to show students that even though these texts appear … Read More “Rosa” and The Formation of an American Literature

+

African American Literature and the American Dream Syllabus

Whenever I teach an American literature survey course, the topic of the American Dream inevitably comes up. Typically, I ask students to define this mythological term and they reply with the standard answer, “The American Dream means happiness and success.” I elaborate upon this response by pointing them back, first to the Declaration of Independence, then to other texts. The Declaration states that “life, … Read More African American Literature and the American Dream Syllabus

+

Active Learning in the Literature Classroom

Over the past few semesters, I began my early American literature course with Thomas Jefferson. Starting with Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, Notes from the State of Virginia, and letter to Benjamin Banneker was important considering the recent events in Charlottesville, VA. Typically, I start the first class with David Walker then back track to Jefferson, but after reading Ibram X. Kendi’s “What would Jefferson … Read More Active Learning in the Literature Classroom

+

How Can We Listen and Learn from Our Students After Charlottesville?

Last Friday, Marcia Chatelain’s “How Universities Embolden White Nationalists” in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Chatelain begins by talking about the white nationalists who descended upon Charlottesville and how some people see them and just say, “They’re just ignorant!” However, that is not the case. They are college educated, and as Chatelain notes, Richard Spencer went to UVa, Duke, and The University of Chicago. University … Read More How Can We Listen and Learn from Our Students After Charlottesville?

+

Unheard Voices and “Truth: Red, White, and Black”

Put a dollar to your ear, you can hear the moaning of a slave America the great was built off the labor that they gave–Sho Baraka “Maybe Both, 1865” Over the past few weeks, I have been reading through various story arcs and volumes in the Marvel Universe. Specifically, I am reading Christopher Priest’s Black Panther (1998-2003), Mike Benson’s Luke Cage: Noir (2009), and … Read More Unheard Voices and “Truth: Red, White, and Black”

+

Frederick Douglass’ “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” and How We Need to Think About the Past

On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass gave a speech entitled “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” Last week, I wrote about a small section of this speech, and today I want to expand that discussion some more, looking at what Douglass says about what we should do, or shouldn’t do, with the past. The entire speech, of course, focuses on America’s … Read More Frederick Douglass’ “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” and How We Need to Think About the Past

+

The Transmission of Racist Thought in Solomon Northup’s “Twelve Years a Slave”

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled “Why can’t we just move on? The past is the past.” In that post, I examine how Thomas Jefferson, David Walker, and Solomon Northup all argue that it is nurture, not nature, that produces within us thoughts of discrimination. I wrote about Northup’s descriptions of William Ford and Edwin Epps’ son in that post, … Read More The Transmission of Racist Thought in Solomon Northup’s “Twelve Years a Slave”

+

Fireworks, hot dogs, music, and inequality on the Fourth of July

Why you ain’t march on Selma? Why you ain’t tell the refugees “please stay with me”? Why when you take communion, it don’t remind you of your union? That you too were once undocumented too Why do you love your guns more than our sons? Why you patriots first? Why you worshipping the flag?–Propaganda Today, we celebrate the Fourth of July, America’s independence. We … Read More Fireworks, hot dogs, music, and inequality on the Fourth of July

+

“Why can’t we just move on? The past is the past.”

My own people owned people, but they don’t own that They say racism’s dead, man our President is black Two terms in the White House, that don’t mean jack If we still believe our present ain’t affected by our past–Andy Mineo “Uncomfortable” One question I hear over and over again when I speak or write about the history of racism, subjugation, and oppression in … Read More “Why can’t we just move on? The past is the past.”

Propaganda’s “Precious Puritans”and How We Teach the Puritans

Opening with discordant strings and followed by stomps and chains, Propaganda’s “Precious Puritans” challenges the teachings and thoughts of the Puritans, a group we typically teach every semester in our classrooms. When the song initially appeared in 2012, there were discussions online surrounding the song, specifically within a Christian context. (To see those see Thabiti Anyabwile’s post on the song. He has links to the … Read More Propaganda’s “Precious Puritans”and How We Teach the Puritans

David Walker and the Composition Classroom?

For various reasons, I always like to teach David Walker’s Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World (1829) in my Early American literature courses. Typically, I do not have students read selections from Walker’s Appeal until later in the semester; however, as I noted in a previous post, I am having students read it at the very beginning of the semester before moving … Read More David Walker and the Composition Classroom?