Make a Difference During International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The 1948 the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines genocide as “acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national ethnical, racial, or religious group.” Abuses of human rights are endemic in genocide, and indeed, genocidal acts can be viewed as the ultimate form of human rights violations.

As International Holocaust Remembrance Day approaches on January 27, it is a good time to remember the victims of the Holocaust and to reflect on what we can do to bring about a more humane, just, and compassionate world.  Try this lesson, “Strategies for Making a Difference,” from Facing History and Ourselves‘ newly revised edition of Holocaust and Human Behavior, to challenge your students to do just this. Help them think through small steps they can take to bring about positive change in their community.

>>See  lesson by Facing History and Ourselves

For more information on how you can teach about genocide through a human rights context, please visit our HRE USA’s human rights education library for lesson plans, books, films, take action resources, and more.

>>See further HRE USA resources on genocide

Tasting History: How to Teach Immigration to a Class of Immigrants

by Jessica Lander, Facing History and Ourselves

In my US history classes this fall, we’ve been exploring the journeys of immigrants who came to these shores early in the 20th century. We have listened to accounts from Ellis Island and examined Emma Lazarus’ inscription on the Statue of Liberty.

As I searched for the unit’s final project, I found many proposed activities that began the same way: “Have your students imagine they are immigrants coming to a new country.”

Here I am in luck. Most of my students won’t have to “imagine.” I have a classroom full of experts.

The students I teach hail from 39 countries. Their immigrant stories are just as diverse. I have students born in Thai refugee camps; students who have escaped war in Iraq; and students who have flown from the bustling cities of Brazil in search of economic opportunities.

Immigrant and refugee students bring a wealth of knowledge, skills, and experiences to our classrooms — not to mention the perseverance it took for them to get here in the first place. But too often, our approach to these learners focuses on the one thing they often lack: English. In the academic hierarchies of high schools — AP, honors classes, college-level classes — English learners often sit on the bottom rung.

It’s obviously true that these students need to master English to thrive in American colleges and professions, but we’re missing something important when we focus so intently on their deficits. We’re overlooking how much they have to offer.

>> Read More

Black Lives Matter Week in D.C.

Attention Educators in the Washington D.C. area!

You are invited you to endorse and participate in the D.C. area Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools from February 5-10, 2018 to bring social justice issues into the classroom and empower students of color across the D.C. area.

D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice,  Center for Inspired Teaching, the Washington Teachers’ Union, D.C. area educators, and community members are collaborating on D.C. Area Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools. This week of action builds on the momentum of National Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Our Schools campaign taking place in cities across the U.S. to promote a set of local and national demands focused on improving the school experience for students of color.

Each day will explore two to three of the Black Lives Matter movement thirteen guiding principles. In school, teachers across the district will implement Black Lives Matter Week of Action curriculum designed for pre-K through 12th grade classrooms. In the evening, there will be events for educators, students, stakeholders, and community members to actively engage in the movement.

The goal of the Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools is to spark an ongoing movement of critical reflection and honest conversations in school communities for people of all ages to engage with critical issues of social justice. It is our duty as educators and community members to civically engage students and build their empathy, collaboration, and agency so they are able to thrive. Students must learn to examine, address, and grapple with issues of racism and discrimination that persist in their lives and communities.

>> Learn More

Civil Rights Movement Teaching Institute

EVENT DETAILS:
When: July 9-27
Where: Duke University, Durham, NC
Stipend/Award: $2700 (The stipend is intended to help participants cover travel, housing, meals, and basic academic expenses)

Application deadline: March 1st

This summer teaching institute was designed by a collaborative team of scholars, veterans, and educators from Duke, the SNCC Legacy Project, Tougaloo College, and Teaching for Change. Participants (classroom teachers in grades 7-12) will learn the bottom-up history of the Civil Rights Movement and receive resources and strategies to bring it home to their students. They will have the unique opportunity to learn from the people who made the civil rights movement happen, and from the leading scholars of the era. Three key narratives will serve as the focus of this institute:

  1. The movement thrust forward its leaders, not the other way around.
  2. The tradition of protest grew out of a long history of activism in the black community.
  3. Grassroots activism was the major engine that led to legislative reforms.

>> Learn more and apply

Human Rights Innovation Fellowship

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) is inviting applications for its Human Rights Innovation Fellowship on the topic “Resisting Criminalization.” Individuals or non-profit organizations with an innovative project that is relevant to the fellowship’s theme can apply.  In addition, advocacy organizations, academic institutions, research centers, grassroots organizations, and UUSC partners may apply for the fellowship. The fellowship will provide funding up to $25,000.

Application deadline: January 17

The fellowship proposal should address a major challenge facing individuals and/or communities who are criminalized in the  United States. Criminalization refers to policies and practices that stigmatize, scapegoat, and profile whole communities as “criminal” or “terrorist.” UUSC’s primary goals in this campaign are to advance community protection strategies and expanded sanctuary, decriminalize poverty, and advance restorative justice.

>> Learn more and apply

Using HRE to Address Stress in Students

A recent national survey released by UCLA’s Institute for Democracy, Education and Access, Teaching and Learning in the Age of Trump:  Increasing Stress and Hostility in America’s High School, found that the president’s political rhetoric and policy decisions have spilled into classrooms at public high schools in significant ways, causing stress, polarization and hostility among students. (See also NPR article).

The report, shows that nearly 80 percent of teachers said some students had expressed concern for their well-being because of the charged public conversation about issues such as immigration, health care, the environment, travel bans and LGBTQ rights.  Furthermore, 40 percent said concerns over key issues — such as Trump’s ban on travelers from eight countries, most with Muslim majorities; restrictions on LGBTQ rights; and health care — are making it harder for students to focus on their studies and making them less likely to come to school.

In response, Sandy Sohcot, the Director of The World As It Could Be (TWAICB), suggests HRE as one approach that could effectively address heightened stress in the classroom.  She states, “I’d like to offer using the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as a tool to teachers to guide discussion that could help students better bridge divisive feelings, grasp how derogatory language and actions affect others, and help express the human rights affected by language and policies of their government representatives.”

In her recent blog post entitled, If You Get Confused, Listen to the Music Play, Sohcot further explores how the UDHR could help address not only the issues causing so much youth anxiety, but also the increasingly confusing social-political environment we’re in, and the floating anxiety it generates.

>> Access UCLA Report and key findings
>> Read Sohcot’s blog post

The Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated the United States

By Richard Rothstein

We share a national myth that residential segregation is de facto. It is a myth embraced not only by conservatives, but by liberals as well. It is perpetuated by our standard high school history curriculum, in which commonly used textbooks routinely describe segregation in the North as de facto, mysteriously evolved without government direction. Yet, as The Color of Law recounts, the myth is false. Federal, state, and local governments deliberately segregated residential areas of every metropolitan area of the nation, designed to ensure that African Americans and whites would have to live separately.

 >> Continue Reading

Support HRE for Human Rights Day

HUMAN RIGHTS DAY was yesterday, December 10, the anniversary of the date when the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

Human rights education is as important today as it has ever been in promoting peace, dignity, freedom, equality and respect for all peoples here at home and around the world. This year, in celebration of human rights day, please consider investing in HRE by donating to HRE USA’s newly established Flowers Fund.

flowers fund with taglineThe Flowers Fund supports innovation and mentorship in human rights education in the United States. Your tax-exempt donation will enable HRE USA to cultivate the next generation of human rights educators by underwriting a variety of creative activities such as internships with member organizations, research, artistic expressions, and collaborative projects among students, teachers, and activists.

The Flowers Fund was created in honor of human rights educator, Nancy Flowers to continue her legacy of innovation and mentorship in human rights education.

>> Donate here

 

Immigrant Activist Profile – DULCE

As part of HRE-USA’s commitment to defending DACA and advocating for a Clean Dream Act, we will be interviewing a series of Immigrant Rights activists and sharing ways that educators can support the #HeretoStay movement.

“There is Power in Numbers” – An Immigrant Rights Activist’s Journey

img_20161101_152414.jpgDulce (above center) an immigrant rights activist and college student currently based out of Washington, D.C., remotely working with an organization called Students Working for Equal Rights (SWER) and also United We Dream. While her dedication to the #HeretoStay movement is clear-cut and straightforward, her personal journey has taken her across thousands of miles, across the border of two countries and through three different U.S. states.

Dulce was born in the Mexican state of Guerrero, in the southern region of Mexico. Given that her family found it poverty-ridden and infested with crime at the time, her parents decided to leave her community in search of better opportunities in the United States. She crossed the border exactly on her ninth birthday, which she considers her “birthday gift.”

The arduous journey with her grandmother, aunt, mother, and other family members spanned across three days and three nights. Dulce shares that during that journey into the United States, her mother unfortunately was caught by U.S. border agents, forcing her mother to attempt the journey four other times, one of which where she was kidnapped.

Dulce herself ended up living in South Carolina and started third grade there where she learned English and eventually successfully completed middle and high school. As her high school graduation date loomed ahead, she realized that she wanted to go to college. However, this proved difficult, given that South Carolina did not pride itself in welcoming immigrant communities and was known for its anti-immigration legislation, essentially banning immigrant students from attending college.

When DACA came out, Dulce was still in high school and had applied and been accepted into three different universities. Despite this being an incredible accomplishment, for Dulce it was a huge let down, as all of these schools did not offer financial aid / in-state tuition for individuals with her immigration status. Eventually, Dulce was forced to give up on her dream of going to college for a whole year.

During that year, Dulce found a job, attempting to save as much money as possible in order to achieve her dream of eventually going to college. She attempted everything to achieve her goal of getting her higher education paid for, including going to a military recruitment office. At the time, she found it to be her only solution, yet she found that nothing came out of it, and given her immigration status, she wasn’t able to join the military either. While Dulce struggled to make something out of her life, she found that all of the doors of opportunity were closed to her.

Moving forward, through internet research, Dulce eventually found a scholarship over Facebook for DACA recipients through TheDream.US Even though it was a week before the deadline, she applied and by December, she learned she received the educational scholarship. Ever persistent, learning that only students who were eligible for in-state tuition could receive the scholarship, Dulce moved to Florida not knowing anyone, with her dreams in her suitcase, to attempt to receive an out-of-state tuition waiver.

Having moved to Florida, Dulce soon learned that she was ineligible for in-state tuition waiver, having needed to spend three years of high school in the state, but stayed there for two years. She cobbled together her savings from the year and a half that she had worked, got a job on campus, but the scholarship she received only covered one-third of her tuition. Given that she had to still pay for her housing, it got to a point where she couldn’t afford college.

Despite all of the setbacks, Dulce refused to give up and eventually moved once again to Washington, D.C., where she currently attends Trinity Washington University, where with the support of TheDream.US, she is able to complete her education and she finds a community that is welcoming of immigrants and DACA recipients.

In Washington, D.C., she continues her activism, as she understands how important it is to speak out and fight not only for yourself, but for other people as well. Before she became involved in activism, she herself didn’t know the origins of DACA and realized it was a program made possible by activists that came before her, who paved the path for people like herself. In turn, Dulce hopes to pave the path for others who will come after her.

linda sarsour-SWER and UWDFor this reason, alongside SWER, she also works with the immigrant rights organization, United We Dream and connected with them immediately when she arrived to D.C. to be as much help as possible. As of November 2017, she has been helping to organize the walk-out at Trinity Washington University, in support of the passing of Clean Dream Act.

For Dulce this work is important because she feels her community, and other communities (for instance the Nicaraguan, Honduran, and Haitian communities in the Temporary Protection Status program) are under attack under the current administration. Furthermore, future immigrant communities will be affected, as the administration seeks to terminate programs that will directly impact immigrants. For this reason, Dulce lobbies and calls her senators and representatives, and aggressively advocates for them to pass the Clean Dream Act, legislation that she will provide protection for herself, her community, and also her mother, whom she considers the original DREAMer.

Through her multiple journeys and dream to pursue a college education, Dulce remains hopeful and feels that she receives a lot of support from allies and strangers who support this cause. Recently, students at Trinity Washington University organized information sessions, where many non-DACA recipients came out to show their support of immigrant communities and to learn more about how how the DACA and TPS repeals were negatively affecting the immigrant community.

Alongside her activism, she continues to study at Trinity Washington University, as she is double-majoring in Communications and International Relations. While her future career is still uncertain, she has a desire to possibly involve herself with immigration law, work for a non-profit, or get into politics. She has a deep desire to make a positive change in her community. Even on her free time, she is very active on social media, following and arguing with politicians, and reading through Facebook posts of individuals with different ideological points of view, including those that might be hateful. In spite of much of the ignorant rhetoric online, she believes that while some people may never change their mind, she believes that you can at least change their attitudes. Even on her downtime, Dulce can be found online, explaining the basics of U.S. immigration and debunking the misinformation around immigrants and crime to strangers.

walkout-nov-9th-e1512084357836.jpgDulce continues to fight and reminds others to only for the current DACA recipients, but also for every generation, including her mother. She believes that the original DREAMers are not herself and her fellow DACA recipients, but rather the parents of current DACA recipients, those that left everything behind so that their children could have a better life.

Action Steps: Click here to take a look at some resources educators and their communities can do to support the Clean Dream Act. Also check out this toolkit created by United We Dream to use in the classroom.

 

 

 

 

Support Innovation in HRE

HRE USA  is excited to announce the creation of the  Flowers Fund.  Established in honor of Nancy Flowers, the fund will be used continue her legacy of innovation and mentorship in human rights education.  Please consider contributing today to help us advocate for and further develop programming that supports human rights education and our ultimate goal of making human rights a reality in each community.

>> Donate Now