Equity & Diversity

Teachers Share Resources for Addressing Charlottesville Hate Rally in the Classroom

By Madeline Will — August 14, 2017 3 min read
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For many teachers, a pall has been cast over the first few days of school. This weekend, a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., turned deadly when a 20-year-old man drove his car into counter-protesters, fatally injuring one woman and hurting 19 others. The Associated Press reported that the high school teacher of the man accused of the incident said he had been fascinated with Nazism in school, and had “deeply held, radical” convictions on race in the 9th grade.

Even before the violence, the images of the white supremacists—including neo-Nazis and members of the Ku Klux Klan—marching in droves were shocking. And they left many teachers wondering how they would address this overt display of racism and hatred in class.

To help start the conversation, Melinda Anderson, a contributing writer for The Atlantic who covers education and race, created the hashtag #CharlottesvilleCurriculum for educators to share websites, videos, and other documents to use in class. Here are some resources, from both the hashtag and elsewhere, that can help start the conversation in your classroom.

On Twitter, educators stressed the importance of having these conversations, no matter how intimidating and challenging they can be.

And Education Week Teacher opinion blogger Christina Torres wrote that it is essential for teachers to have honest conversations with students about racism and white supremacy.

We must teach our students that the "history" of these events is far from "past" and "passed." The history our students face now is a very living thing that we must learn about in order to affect change for our future. ... As many of us prepare to return to our classrooms, we don't just need to buy flowers and make bulletin boards. We need to prepare and read resources (like #CharlottesvilleCurriculum from Melinda Anderson) that help us make space in our classrooms to discuss these events. We need to ensure that we treat our students' stories and the stories happening right now as a very real, living thing that our kids have the ability to change. They deserve that knowledge. They deserve that power."

Teachers, let us know how you’re discussing the events of Charlottesville in your class in the comments below. Anything I’m missing here? Tweet me, or share in the comments section below.

Photo: Multiple white nationalist groups marched with torches through the UVA campus in Charlottesville, Va. on August 11. —Mykal McEldowney/The Indianapolis Star/AP

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.