Difficult History Explored at 2019 Summer Seminar for Educators

Brian K. Mitchell of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Department of History gave the talk “When the Depths Don’t Give Up Their Dead: Searching for New Sources on the Elaine Massacre.”
Brian K. Mitchell of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Department of History gave the talk “When the Depths Don’t Give Up Their Dead: Searching for New Sources on the Elaine Massacre.”

In this year’s one-day summer seminar, “Tools for Teaching and Learning Difficult History: Racial Violence in Arkansas, the 1919 Elaine Massacre and a Century of Lynching, 1836–1936,” educators received support and guidance for the challenging but crucial task of teaching history such as the Elaine Massacre. Noted historians shared primary documents that connect racial violence in Arkansas to larger issues in U.S. history. Documents include eyewitness accounts, oral histories of families involved, and stories of individual citizens who sought to right the wrongs happening in their community. Sessions included a special demonstration of a model for structured, peer-to-peer dialogue about the historical documents and about difficult issues of race and identity in the present, led by Arkansas teachers and students who have tested the model in their classrooms. Participants left with links to document sets, sample lesson plans, and student projects, correlated to ADE Course Frameworks for middle and high school grade levels. Teachers also learned how their schools and students can take part in a statewide commemorative effort honoring victims of the Elaine Massacre and lynching elsewhere and affirming the state’s commitment to the principle of equal protection under the law to all Arkansas citizens.

With fifty-nine teachers attending and eighteen presenters, this year’s audience became the largest and most diverse yet for the CALS Summer Seminars. Presenters included history professors Guy Lancaster (CALS EOA), Brian K. Mitchell (UA Little Rock), and Cherisse Jones-Branch (ASU Jonesboro); archive librarians Adrienne Jones (UA Little Rock Center for Arkansas History and Culture) and Rhonda Stewart (CALS Roberts Library); retired federal Judge Audrey Evans (Elaine Massacre Memorial Committee); youth media specialists Clarice and Kwami Abdul-Bey (Arkansas Peace and Justice Memorial Movement); digital game designers Ericka Benedicto and Juanenna Williams (Golden Door Institute); singer-songwriter Charley Sandage (Arkansas Stories CD); award-winning classroom teachers Claudine James (Malvern Middle School), Stacey McAdoo (LR Central High), Lisa Lacefield (Westside Junior High, Jonesboro), and Melissa Muse (Quest Academy Charter, Little Rock); and LR Central High School Memory Project students Zoie Moore, Tristam Thompson, Morgan Hibbard, Zia Tollette, Adaja Cooper, Brooke Elliott, and Milo Thompson.

This project was supported in part by a grant from the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities. For more information—including teaching materials from the seminar—contact George West at gwest@cals.org and visit the Arkansas History Hub here.

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