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Teaching Hard History

64 EpisodesProduced by Learning for JusticeWebsite

What we don’t know about American history hurts us all. Teaching Hard History begins with the long legacy of slavery and reaches through Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and the civil rights movement into the present day. Brought to you by Learning for Justice (formerly Teaching Tolerance) and hosted by Dr… read more

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Building Black Institutions: Autonomy, Labor and HBCUs – w/ Jelani M. Favors and Tera W. Hunter

December 3rd, 2021


Historian Tera Hunter describes Black institution-building post-slavery and throughout the Jim Crow era, illustrating how Black workers reorganized …

Premeditation and Resilience: Tulsa, Red Summer and the Great Migration – w/ David Krugler

November 11th, 2021


Naming the 1921 Tulsa massacre a “race riot” is inaccurate. Historian David Krugler urges listeners to call this and other violent attacks what they …

Lynching: White Supremacy, Terrorism and Black Resilience – w/ Kidada Williams and Kellie Carter Jackson

October 26th, 2021


Black American experiences during Jim Crow were deeply affected by the ever-present threat of lynching and other forms of racist violence. Historian …

Correcting History: Confederate Monuments, Rituals and the Lost Cause – w/ Karen Cox

October 19th, 2021


The Lost Cause narrative would have us believe that Confederate monuments have always been celebrated, but people have protested them since they …

Reconstruction 101: Progress and Backlash – w/ Kate Masur

October 13th, 2021


Just months after the Civil War ended, former Confederates had regained political footholds in Washington, D.C. In her overview of Reconstruction, …

The History of Whiteness and How We Teach About Race – w/ Edward E. Baptist and Aisha White

September 14th, 2021


Historian Ed Baptist provides context on the creation and enforcement of a U.S. racial binary that endures today, as well as Black resistance as a …

Creating Brave Spaces: Reckoning With Race in the Classroom – w/ Matthew R. Kay

September 3rd, 2021


People from all corners of public life are telling teachers to stop discussions about race and racism in the classroom, but keeping the truth of the world from students simply doesn’t work. English teacher Matthew Kay …

Jim Crow: Yesterday and Today

August 26th, 2021


This season, we’re examining the century between the Civil War and the modern civil rights movement to understand how systemic racism and slavery …

Baseball, Civil Rights and the Anderson Monarchs Barnstorming Tour (special) - w/ Steve Bandura and Derrick White

August 19th, 2021


In 2015, Coach Steve Bandura loaded the Anderson Monarchs, a little league baseball team from Philadelphia, onto a 1947 Flxible Clipper Bus for a barnstorming tour back in time. Bandura and the players recount lessons …

Walking in Their Shoes: Using #BlackLivesMatter to Teach the Civil Rights Movement – w/ Shannon King and Nishani Frazier

April 13th, 2021


The civil rights movement offers critical context for understanding the systemic police violence, voter suppression efforts, ‘law and order’ rhetoric …

The Black Panther Party and the Transition to Black Power – w/ Robyn C. Spencer and Jakobi Williams

March 30th, 2021


The history of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense can help us understand the transition from civil rights to Black Power, as well as contemporary issues like mass incarceration. From the Ten-Point Platform to …

Malcolm X Beyond the Mythology – w/ Clarence Lang

March 16th, 2021


Historian Clarence Lang joins us for a conversation about Malcolm X. We discuss his commitment to Black pride and self-determination and his …

Listen, Look and Learn: Using Primary Sources to Teach the Freedom Struggle – w/ J. Todd Moye, Guha Shankar, and Noelle Trent

February 9th, 2021


Oral histories, historic sites, archives and museums expand students’ understanding of the past. They fill in gaps in our textbooks—complementing what’s included and capturing what’s not. This episode highlights online …

Young, Gifted and Black: Teaching Freedom Summer to K-5 Students – w/ Nicole Burrowes. La Tasha Levy and Liz Kleinrock

January 26th, 2021


Teaching civil rights history to young learners creates both opportunities and challenges. The 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project and the …

Checking In: Listener Feedback and Discussing the U.S. Capitol Attack

January 19th, 2021


If you're finding this podcast useful, please support us by taking our Listener Survey—only 10 questions—at

And stay …

Making a Scene: The Movement in Literature and Film – w/ Julie Buckner Armstrong

December 22nd, 2020


From the hard work of organizing to the reality of everyday life under Jim Crow, films and literature can bring historical context to life for students. In this episode, we recommend several “must use” films, books, …

The Real Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott – w/ Emilye Crosby

December 8th, 2020


Everyone thinks they know the story, but the real history of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott is even better. This episode details the events that set the stage for Ms. Parks’ civil disobedience. You’ll meet …

Connecting Slavery with the Civil Rights Movement

November 24th, 2020


To fully understand the United States today, we have to comprehend the central role that slavery played in our nation’s past. That legacy is also the …

Teaching the Movement’s Most Iconic Figure – w/ Charles McKinney

November 10th, 2020

You cannot teach the civil rights movement without talking about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But it’s critical that students deconstruct the mythology …

The Jim Crow North – w/ Patrick D. Jones

October 27th, 2020


The Civil Rights Movement was never strictly a Southern phenomenon. To better understand the Jim Crow North, we explore discrimination and Black protest in places like Milwaukee, Omaha, Cleveland and New York. To …

Nonviolence and Self-Defense – w/ Wesley Hogan, Christopher Strain and Akinyele Umoja

October 13th, 2020


Armed resistance and nonviolent direct action co-existed throughout the civil rights era. In this episode, three historians confront some …

New Film: The Forgotten Slavery of Our Ancestors – w/ Alice Qannik Glenn

October 7th, 2020


Alice Qannik Glenn is the host of Coffee and Quaq and assistant producer of The Forgotten Slavery of our Ancestors. This short, classroom-ready film

Jim Crow, Lynching and White Supremacy – w/ Stephen A. Berrey, Hannah Ayers, Lance Warren and Ahmariah Jackson

September 29th, 2020


Jim Crow was more than signs and separation. It was a system of terror and violence created to control the labor and regulate the behavior of Black …

A Playlist for the Movement – w/ Charles L. Hughes

September 8th, 2020


Music chronicles the history of the civil rights struggle: The events, tactics and emotions of the movement are documented in songs of the era. From The Freedom Singers to Sam Cooke, historian Charles L. Hughes explains …

Beyond the "Master Narrative" – w/ Nishani Frazier and Adam Sanchez

August 25th, 2020


Students don’t enter our classrooms as blank slates. When it comes to the civil rights movement, we often have to help our students unlearn what they think they know while we’re teaching them what actually happened. The …

Reframing the Movement – w/ Nishani Frazier and Adam Sanchez

August 11th, 2020


Teaching the civil rights movement accurately and effectively requires deconstructing the myths and misconceptions about the civil rights movement. Most people are familiar with a very specific version of the Civil …

Wrap Up: Teaching the Connections – w/ Bethany Jay

June 9th, 2020


The systems that enabled and perpetuated African and Indigenous enslavement in what is now the U.S. have much in common, and their histories tell us a great deal about the present. Professors Bethany Jay and Steven …

Hard History in Hard Times – Talking With Teachers

May 8th, 2020


In this special call-in episode, listeners share their stories and questions from throughout season 2—including teaching remotely, working with …

Call Us! (by Sunday, April 19)

April 13th, 2020


It’s time for our first call-in show! We know things are chaotic for you and every other educator right now. We feel it too, so this seems like the perfect time to talk. Pick up the phone and dial 888-59-STORY (

Inseparable Separations: Slavery and Indian Removal

March 27th, 2020


Indian Removal was a brutal and complicated effort that textbooks often simplify. It is also inseparably related to slavery. Enslavers seeking profit drove demand for Indigenous lands, displacing hundreds of thousands …

Slave Codes, Liberty Suits and the Charter Generation – w/ Margaret Newell

March 6th, 2020


The Americas were built on the lands, labor and lives of Indigenous peoples. Despite being erased from history textbooks after the so-called first …

Using the WPA Slave Narratives – w/ Cynthia Lynn Lyerly

February 14th, 2020


From 1936 to 1938, the Federal Writers’ Project collected stories from people who had been enslaved. The WPA Slave Narrative Collection at the …

Groundwork for Teaching Indigenous Enslavement – w/ the Turtle Island Social Studies Collective

February 8th, 2020


To better understand the United States’ past and present, we need to better understand Indigenous identities—and our classrooms play a huge role. …

Mid-season Recap: Key Lessons on Indigenous Enslavement

January 24th, 2020


Educators can no longer ignore our country’s history of Indigenous enslavement. Our students need a fuller understanding of the pivotal history of …

Silver, Resistance and the Evolution of Slavery in the West – w/ Andrés Reséndez

December 20th, 2019


Throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, the forced labor and bondage of Indigenous peoples was integral to the economic and political history …

The Other Slavery – w/ Andrés Reséndez

December 6th, 2019


A hundred years before the first ship carrying enslaved Africans arrived in Virginia, Europeans introduced the commercial practice of enslavement in “The New World.” And for the next 400 years, millions of Indigenous …

Coming Soon: Conversations with Andrés Reséndez

November 25th, 2019


Andrés Reséndez is the author of The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America. His work has changed conventional wisdom about the institution of slavery in the Atlantic World. Over the next …

Teaching Slavery through Children's Literature, Part 2 – w/ Debbie Reese

November 8th, 2019


Each autumn, Thanksgiving brings a disturbing amount of inaccurate information and troubling myths into classrooms across the United States. Most students don’t learn much about the history of Native nations—and even …

In the Elementary Classroom – w/ Kate Shuster, Marian Dingle, Bria Wright, Marvin Reed and Alice Mitchell

October 4th, 2019


For elementary teachers approaching the topic of slavery, it can be tempting to focus only on heroes and avoid explaining oppression. But teachers’ omissions speak as loudly as what they choose to include. And what …

Indigenous Enslavement: Part 2 – w/ Christina Snyder

September 20th, 2019


Understanding Indigenous enslavement expands our conception of slavery in what is now the United States. It spread across the entire continent and affected millions of people of different backgrounds. If we define …

Indigenous Enslavement: Part 1 – w/ Christina Snyder

September 6th, 2019


Millions of Indigenous people lived in North America before European colonial powers invaded. Along with an insatiable desire for free labor, …

The Hidden History of American Slavery – w/ Maureen Costello, Eduardo Díaz and Renée Gokey

August 23rd, 2019


American slavery shaped our modern world and most certainly the foundation and development of what is now the United States. The Smithsonian’s Eduardo Díaz and Renée Gokey discuss the importance of learning about …

Coming Soon: Season 2 of Teaching Hard History

August 13th, 2019


We’re turning our attention to the enslavement of Indigenous people, spending more time with teachers in the classroom and adding support for K–5 educators. Tune in next week for more advice about teaching the history …

Wrap up: Questions from the Classroom – w/ Bethany Jay

February 14th, 2019


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 …

Young Adult Trade Books – w/ John H. Bickford

February 7th, 2019


From elementary to high school, YA literature can introduce fundamental themes and information about slavery, especially when paired with primary …

Sample Lessons – w/ Jordan Lanfair and Tamara Spears

January 23rd, 2019


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 …

Classroom Experiences – w/ Tamara Spears and Jordan Lanfair

January 15th, 2019


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 …

Coming Soon: Stories from the Classroom (and more)

January 14th, 2019


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. …

Slavery Today – w/ James Brewer Stewart

June 29th, 2018


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. 

Drop Us A Line – Your Questions. Your Stories. Your Episode!

June 4th, 2018


A listener’s question leads to a meaningful moment. And now we want more! Take a listen, then email to tell us your story about …

Confronting Hard History at Montpelier

May 29th, 2018


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 …

Slavery in the Supreme Court – w/ Paul Finkelman

May 10th, 2018


In the United States, justice was never blind. Historian Paul Finkelman goes beyond legal jargon to illustrate how slavery was entangled with the …

Slavery in the Constitution – w/ Dr. Paul Finkelman

April 26th, 2018


Constitutional historian Paul Finkelman explains the deeply racist bargains the founding fathers struck to unify the country under one document and …

Ten More … Film and the History of Slavery w/ Ron Briley

April 12th, 2018


Film historian Ron Briley returns with more documentary, feature film & miniseries suggestions for history & English teachers. From Ken Burns to Black Panther, this episode offers background & strategies to …

Film and the History of Slavery w/ Ron Briley

March 29th, 2018


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 …

Diverse Experience of the Enslaved w/ Deirdre Cooper Owens

March 15th, 2018


Most students leave school thinking enslaved people lived like characters in Gone with the Wind. Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens reveals the remarkable …

Resistance Means More Than Rebellion – w/ Kenneth S. Greenberg

March 2nd, 2018


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 …

In the Footsteps of Others: Process Drama – w/ Lindsay Randall

February 15th, 2018


Students learning about slavery often ask, “Why didn’t enslaved people just run away or revolt?” Lindsay Anne Randall offers a lesson in “Process …

Dealing With Things As They Are: Creating a Classroom Environment – w/ Steven Thurston Oliver

January 31st, 2018


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? …

Slavery & the Northern Economy – w/ Christy Clark Pujara

January 30th, 2018


When we think of slavery as a strictly Southern institution, we perpetuate a “dangerous fiction,” according to Professor Christy Clark-Pujara. Avoid …

Slavery & the Civil War, Part 2 – w/ Dr. Bethany Jay

January 29th, 2018


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. 

Educators! Get a professional development …

Slavery & the Civil War, Part 1 – w/ Dr. Bethany Jay

January 29th, 2018


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 …

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