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CJSF 2019 Summer Rewind: Teach Reconstruction



On Saturday, May 18, 45 teachers from across the state of Mississippi convened in Jackson MS for a workshop on the Reconstruction era as part of the Zinn Education Project's Teach Reconstruction campaign. The event was hosted by CJSF partners Southern Echo and Teaching for Change, with outreach support by the Mississippi Department of Education.


Our very own, Alexis J. Smith, Operations Manager for CJSF had the opportunity to attend the workshop along with her daughter. Here are some reflections from Alexis:


"Last month, CJSF was honored to be in community with partners Southern Echo and Teaching for Change/Zinn Education Project during their Teach Reconstruction Workshop hosted in Jackson, MS. Among the more than 40 dedicated and open-minded educators in the room--on a Saturday--the diversity was inspiring. Mississippi educators came from all over the State, leading by example as lifelong learners, ready to tackle a day of honest dialogue and peer/professional coaching on the need and value to not only teach about the Reconstruction Era and Slavery, but also (most importantly) to do so with a culturally-relevant and social-emotional learning lens.


With the expertise of Dr. Hilary Green, Phd, participants were encouraged to work through exercises that included role play and poetic expression encouraging thoughtful reflection on the experiences of enslaved people, particularly from a family perspective, using actual 'last seen' ads to give way to honest dialogue about the impact of America’s slavery practices on families, for generations. An example of the thoughful activities we practiced together included the group writing prompt, 'Write that I…'. After an interactive session of time-period historical exploration, participants were asked to express their reflections 'spoken word-style' and to create a stanza that describes how an enslaved man, woman, or child might want to be remembered as a part of history. 'Write that I…gave my body and ultimately my life in the hope that my children would experience better.' 'Write that I...knew the risks of leaving. I asked for permission to visit my wife who had been sold to another plantation--but was denied, repeatedly. So I ran. I knew the risks...and I ran, again.'

Overall the opportunity and the outcomes of this special session were valuable beyond measure; particularly, in the lives of they who will benefit from quality teaching on this important part of our history. For more information on the full list of resources shared and additional program impact statements, please visit: https://www.zinnedproject.org/news/reconstruction-workshop-for-teachers-jackson-ms/


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