June 11

Blog #100 – Final Reflection

This blog is part of your final exam (20%), so please take some time and think about your answers.

400 words minimum for your total response.  Please number your answers in the comment section.

1. A lot of our time this year has been spent reading, writing, studying, watching videos, reflecting, and talking about American history.  Discuss what your favorite learning style was this year and why it was effective for you.  Also, explain which was your least favorite way to learn and explain why it doesn’t work for you.

2. We studied a lot of stuff this year – from the Pilgrims to the Revolution to Andrew Jackson (soon to be leaving the $20) to Abe Lincoln to Alice Paul to the Yippies to the Great Recession and beyond.  What did you wish we had spent more time on than we did this year and why?

3. Yep, we studied a whole lot of stuff this year, but I bet you wish there were some units that were shorter or didn’t go as in depth.  What did you wish we had studied less of and explain why (keep in mind that if the info didn’t make it onto the test doesn’t mean it won’t be there next year)?

4. What were your strengths and weaknesses as a student?  Explain with some specific examples.

5. People talk a lot about takeaways – a summary of an experience, distilled down to one or two sentences.  What is your takeaway from APUSH (or in other words, what did you truly learn about American history)?

I will truly miss you guys and gals.  I think a lot of what has made me enjoy this year is seeing you grow as a person and as a student.  I’ve had the privilege of watching you become history nerds along with me this year (or not hate history as much, I hope!).  We’ve been able to geek out about Hamilton, the Era of Good Feelings, the Cold War, and many other things.  I hope that you had as much fun learning in APUSH as I did teaching, because I loved working with all of you.  I also hope that you get great news about your APUSH exam on July 5 (and the SAT subject area exam if you took that too).

Due before your final exam class (2nd hour – Wed., 3rd Hour  – Thurs., 5th Hour – Fri). 

June 6

Blog #99 – When was America great?

Our current president campaigned on the slogan, Make America Great Again.  It made me wonder, as an amatuer historian, what time period do you think he meant that America should go back to?  So, I ask you, as competent, well-versed APUSH students who have studied almost all of American history, when was America great?

Image result for make america great again

If you’re like me, you may have a hard time narrowing it down to one specific time period.  I’m thinking of several, but I won’t reveal my answers until you guys are done w/ this blog.

Image result for make america great again

Please answer the following questions: 

  1. Give me a time period when you think America was great.  It doesn’t have to be the latest, or the best, but one in which you think America lived up to its highest ideals and values.  Explain why you think this event or time period makes America great.
  2. Since the president doesn’t think we’re great now, why do you think we are not great now (in essence, what made America not great)?  Or, if you disagree with the president, why is America great now?  Explain with specific examples.
  3. What time period do you think the president wants to go back to and why?

Due Thursday, June 8 by class.  350 words minimum.  

June 1

Book Assignment #3

Due Thursday, June 1 by 10 p.m.  500 words minimum.  

Please include the title of your book in your response.  

a. Summarize your reading for that part; also, this might be the part to examine bias in the book w/ specific examples.

b. Connect a historical thinking skill to your book segment – contextualization, comparison, change and continuity over time, synthesis, cause and effects, periodization (including turning points).

c. Connect your reading to something we’ve studied in APUSH.

d. Make predictions as to where your story will go (even if you’re reading a biography or history and you know where the story is going, try to anticipate some things like trends or themes that you may have encountered in the book that you may not have anticipated or known).  This would also be where you can examine your connection (or lack thereof) to the characters or events.

Happy reading! 

May 30

Blog #98 – Media Images for Women and Toxic Masculinity

So, we watched Tough Guise 2, a searing film on our toxic masculinity culture, and Killing Us Softly 4, a strong indictment about advertising’s impact on women and girls’ bodies and self-esteem.

Tough Guise 2 doesn’t say that every man is violent, acts as gender police, or strikes a cool pose modeled after black urban images.  But it does talk about the epidemic of violence that is conducted by men (77% – 99% of aggravated assault, armed robbery, murder, domestic violence, and rape), and discusses how men are the victims of this violence.  Fathers and older males can perpetuate the tough persona by trying to make us tougher or not show emotions in public in order to avoid feeling shame.  Men of color are stuck in media stereotypes as well (whether it’s Bruce Lee, Latinos, or Native Americans).  One of the things that the film stated was that this latest emphasis on masculinity was that it’s a sign of a culture in retreat, that white males are experiencing more and more economic insecurity and becoming the victims of a p.c. culture and expanding rights for women, people of color, and LGBTQ folks.  This kind of explains the spread of “bum fights” and attacks on gay people, but not completely.  What is needed, according to the film maker, Jackson Katz, is a less narrow definition of masculinity, one that includes women (see Jack Myers’ article), and also shows a multi-varied and accurate representations of men in media.

 

Killing Us Softly 4 examines the way media and advertising influence women and girls and normalize what is desirable and accepted (thin, white, blond) even in other countries.   What these images do is promote the idea that women and girls must live up to a flawless image, one that can be assembled by computers or trimmed to fit the ideal if the real woman doesn’t measure up.  Some of these messages that media and advertising send is that women must be submissive, passive, and silent, and effortlessly perfect.  There’s also a huge emphasis on young people having sex, some ads bordering on pornographic.  Also, there’s the increasing sexualization of younger girls (see articles below).  With an increased exposure to these messages, girls are prone to eating disorders, depression, and low self-esteem.  This has become a public health problem that needs to be solved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your questions:

  1. How do the two films crossover with their subject matter? Explain.
  2. How do both films focus on their issues as public health problems?
  3. Provide an explanation for at least one takeaway from each film.

Your blog comment should be at least 350 words total by Wednesday, May 31 by class. 

 

Sources: 

Author Jack Myers on Masculinity crisis in TIME, 2016 – http://time.com/4339209/masculinity-crisis/

National Review‘s look at men dropping out of the workforce – http://www.nationalreview.com/article/440849/male-labor-force-participation-rate-drop-about-masculine-identity

The American Psychological Association’s report on the Sexualization of Girls – http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report.aspx

The Oversexualization of Young Girls – https://girlsgonewise.com/the-over-sexualization-of-little-girls/

What’s Wrong with the Media’s Portrayal of Women Today, and How to Reverse It – https://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2014/11/21/whats-wrong-with-the-medias-portrayal-of-women-today-and-how-to-reverse-it/#1ad6585f44c2

May 12

Blog #97 – 9/11/01 Oral Interviews

Michigan Department of Civil Rights – http://www.michigan.gov/mdcr/

Federal Department of Justice Civil Rights division – https://www.justice.gov/crt

3 questions due Monday, May 22 by class.  

 

Subject: The 9/11/01 terrorist attacks and the days afterwards.

Suggested equipment: paper and pen/cil for notes; maybe a phone to record the interview.

Procedure:

  1. Get permission to take notes / record interview.
  2. You can use the questions below or add more / different questions – try to make questions that elicit more than a “yes” or “no” answer. You can always ask follow-up questions for clarification, explanation.
  3. Keep eye contact, nod and smile at appropriate times.
  4. Thank them for their time after you’re done. Also, ask them if they’d like a written transcript of the interview. Provide them w/ one if they say yes.  (For this assignment, you can direct them to the blog website: grovesapush.edublogs.org).

Potential questions

  1. What is your name? How old were you on 9/11?
  2. What is your first memory of when you first heard about the attacks? What kind of conclusions did you come to about the planes crashing into the buildings (did you at first think it was an accident or was it something worse)? Why?
  3. Where were you when the attacks happened? What were other peoples’ reactions to the attacks?
  4. Have you ever been to New York City or Washington D.C.? If so, how did that affect your reactions to the attacks?  If not, how did the attacks alter / change your views of the cities and their inhabitants?
  5. Did you know anyone in the cities? If so, did you try to contact them to see if they were o.k.?  What was the conversation like?
  6. If you were stranded in another city after 9/11, how did you cope with being away from family?
  7. What were other peoples’ reactions like in the days after the attacks?
  8. Could you describe your most vivid memory of that day, 9/11?
  9. How did life change for you in the immediate aftermath of the attacks?
  10. What do you remember of the media coverage of the attacks?
  11. What did you think of President Bush’s address later that night? (Show them the transcript here or video below.)
  12. How did life change for you and your family in the weeks and months after 9/11?
  13. Now that it’s been almost 15 years since the attack, how do you think America has changed since that day? Why?

Your job:

Share a minimum of five questions and answers on Blog #97 (300 words minimum) and include your personal reaction to the interview and the shared memories of 9/11/01 (100 minimum).  If you interview more than one person for this blog, please indicate the persons’ names.

Blog due by Monday, May 22nd by class.


May 11

Outside Reading Assignment

  1. Choose from the following historical fiction or non-fiction history books:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1bTxnckI3jB-Z8Vg_JWZ3NqD19YWzTGn2OhBt-buRqmo/edit?usp=sharing

2. Get the book from the GHS Media Center, your local library, or buy the book (this should be a last resort since we have all of these books in our MC).

3. Divide the reading up into four equal parts.  Pace your reading, because you will have an assignment due each week on Thursday (May 18, 25, June 1, 8).

4. On each Thursday, you complete the following on our blog:

a. Summarize your reading for that part; also, this might be the part to examine bias in the book w/ specific examples.

b. Connect a historical thinking skill to your book segment – contextualization, comparison, change and continuity over time, synthesis, cause and effects, periodization (including turning points).

c. Connect your reading to something we’ve studied in APUSH.

d. Make predictions as to where your story will go (in your last assignment, this needs to be an evaluation – Give the book a grade – A, B, C, D, F – and a recommendation to keep the book for next year or ditch it and why).  This would also be where you can examine your connection (or lack thereof) to the characters or events.

5. After you’re done with the book, you will be responsible for making a short video and connect it to the cover of the book in the phone app, Aurasma.  This short video will be a brief (less than a minute) book review / talk that next year’s APUSH students will check out in order to preview the book. (15 points).

6. You will research the internet for a book review on your book, copy and paste the article’s URL in your final assignment (due June 8), and then discuss your assessment of the article’s validity – whether you agree with the author’s assessment of the book – and reasons why.

Each blog entry must be a minimum of 500 words total (20 points each – 25 for the last entry).  

Due every Thursday, May 18, 25, June 1, 8.  Your final entry will be more than 500 words because of the online book review.

April 23

Blog #96 – Imperialism Debate (1898)

Before, during, and after the Spanish-American War in 1898, Americans were debating whether or not America should go beyond its borders and become an imperial empire, much like the European countries had done during the 19th Century w/ Asia and Africa.  Below are the arguments for and against imperialism and some of its proponents and opponents.

For Imperialism

People for it: Assistant Secretary of the Navy Teddy Roosevelt, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Alfred T. Mahan, President William McKinley, Judge William Howard Taft, Admiral George Dewey, Reverend Josiah Strong, former Secretary of State William Seward, and Senator Albert Beveridge.

Arguments for imperialism:

  1. To give back the Philippines to Spain would be cowardly and dishonorable.
  2. To let other imperial powers have the Philippines was bad business and discreditable.
  3. Granting the Filipinos their independence was irresponsible because they are unfit to rule themselves.  They need America to civilize, uplift, and Christianize them.
  4. Imperialism is good for America.  It invigorates a nation and keeps it healthy.  A slothful nation will victim to those countries that maintain soldierly virtues.
  5. Annexation of the Philippines would put America into a position to dominate trade with China and the rest of Asia.
  6. We need the markets and raw materials now.  It doesn’t matter that the Philippines are non-contiguous.  We didn’t need the purchases and additional areas in the continental U.S., but look at us now!  We produce more than we can consume.
  7. Annexation would be so easy because we already control the islands.
  8. Filipinos don’t  have to become citizens of the U.S., we will treat them as dependents (like we do with the Native Americans).  The 14th Amendment won’t apply to them.
  9. Republicans favored annexation because it made the party look good after winning the war.

Against Imperialism

People against it: Author Mark Twain, former president Grover Cleveland, Speaker of the House Thomas “Czar” Reed, journalist Lincoln Steffens, Jane Addams, former Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, AFL chief Samuel Gompers, industrialist Andrew Carnegie, Harvard professor William James.

Arguments against imperialism

  1. Imperialism is immoral.  It repudiates our commitment to human freedom and liberty.  We instead think we know what is best for the Filipinos, and that is wrong.
  2. Nativists fear the pollution of the white American population with inferior Asian races, especially when they are allowed to move to the U.S.  Acquisition of the Philippines may require that they become citizens.
  3. Industrial workers feared the flood of additional cheap labor which would further undercut job opportunities.
  4. Imperialism puts us in the international stage of world politics and is a constant menace for war.  War carries off the physically and mentally fit and leaves behind the lesser fit.  It threatens our security, internally and externally.
  5. The “civilizing” mission some claim is really a cover for a desire to loot the colonies and their natural resources.  This misson is self-righteous and pretentious.
  6. We will inherit Spain’s task of suppressing the native peoples when they rebel.  They will NOT want our cultural ways.  We will end up like Spain – a shriveling power.
  7. Can’t we just trade without having to annex other territories?
  8. Imperialism would involve the need for a large standing army which would become a heavy tax burden.

The country chose imperialism, and the Senate voted for the Treaty of Paris, 1898, 57 to 27, one more vote needed for the 2/3 approval.

Your job:

Pretend you are a senator back in 1898 (yes, you have to do this even if you’re female – we’re time traveling, so you can pretend to be a different gender).  Pick a region of the country and a party (both parties were for expansion, especially Southern Democrats).  Which arguments hold more sway with you and why?  Explain.

300 words minimum.  Due Tuesday, April 25 by class. 

February 26

Post #95 – Why We’re Still Fighting the Civil War

You’re in an Advanced Placement U.S. History class that analyzes different approaches to history.  As we have learned, history’s interpretation can change – use the formation of the Constitution’s interpretation as an example (Blog #93).  History can also be used as a weapon to support or discredit opponents like the way Richard Nixon / Watergate, Frederick Douglass, and Japanese internment camps are being used to discredit President Trump.  In the same way that history can be weaponized, the history of the Civil War has been discussed and fought over ever since General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox Court House in April 1865.  Using the article, “The Way We Weren’t,” author David Von Drehle dissects the way Americans have viewed the bloodiest conflict in our history.

People in 2011 were polled in the 11 states of the Confederacy, and they answered that the primary cause of the Civil War was states rights, or in this case, the primacy of the states over the federal government, despite what the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause said.  However, as we have seen with the recent history we’ve studied, states rights was not just a Southern thing.  Northern states and cities resisted the new Fugitive Slave Law (and the federal government) and tried to foil sending slaves to their original owners.  Eminent Civil War historians like James McPherson and David Blight state that almost everything in the events leading up to the Civil War dovetail w/ slavery.

Confederate soldiers and citizens, the losers in the conflict, had to mentally hold onto their “due pride” after fighting so hard, so they invented the states rights cause.  Many historians, novelists, and filmmakers were willing to go along with this denial and write narratives that supported the states rights cause.  Confederate generals wrote their memoirs in the post-war world which distanced their sacrifice from slavery and attached it firmly to something more noble (in their minds) like states rights.  Insidious inside the states rights cause was the Lost Cause, the belief that slavery was a benign institution and that Black people had it better under slavery than freedom.  Freedom, as defined by the profit-hungry, industrial North, included working for tiny wages and ruthless competition. In Jefferson Davis’s book about the war, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, he portrays the South as hopelessly outgunned and outmanned (which it was) and compares the North to the serpent infiltrating the Garden of Eden (the South) where slave owners lived with their slaves in paradise.

However, this is not to blame the Civil War on just the South.  Yes, they were treasonous.  Yes, they killed hundreds of thousands of Northern soldiers, but EVERYONE was complicit in slavery.  As mentioned in the article, many Northern states, including Wall Street, benefitted dramatically from it.  Check out the New York Historical Society’s online exhibit, Slavery in New York.  There should be little doubt that the war was a long time coming, exacted a horrific toll on the nation, and still leaves us with a legacy that we are dealing with as a nation.

 

CSA states evolution.gif
By User:GolbezOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Questions to answer:

  1. Why was the Lost Cause or denial of slavery as the central cause so attractive to Americans in the aftermath of the war (even up until the 20th Century Civil Rights Movement)?
  2. On page 40 (1) of the article, it mentions several different causes of the Civil War:
    • Northern aggressors invading an independent Southern nation;
    • High tariffs like the Tariff of Abominations;
    • Blundering statesmen like Stephen Douglas, Roger Taney, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan;
    • Clash of industrial vs. agrarian cultures;
    • Caused by fanatics like John Brown and Southern “fire eaters”;
    • Representive of a Marxist class struggle – Southern aristocracy vs. Northern factory workers.

Which of these is most persuasive as a cause and which is the least persuasive cause?  Why?

3. The article focuses a lot on Bleeding Kansas as the pivotal point in which the Civil War seemed inevitable.  Would you agree with this assertion?  Why or why not?

Image result for gone with the wind

4. What are some major arguments that poke holes in the Lost Cause?  Think of movies like Birth of a Nation and Gone With the Wind  and their portrayal of the South.

5. When and why did America finally start to break away from the Lost Cause mythology (a.k.a. The Dunning School of Post War America)?

Pick 4 of the questions (including #1) and answer them in 400 words minimum total.  Due Friday, March 3 by class. 

January 29

Blog #94 – “Prisoner of war camps” = Indian reservations?

As we study Andrew Jackson’s legacy with regards to the Native Americans, one thing to keep in mind is the long-term legacy that white Americans have to own with regards to Native Americans.  Jackson and Van Buren expelled the Indians, the Five “Civilized Tribes” of the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Seminole, Choctaw, and Creek tribes – under the Indian Removal Act.  They were relocated to lands west of the Mississippi River where they would be allowed to roam free, the thinking went.  In the video we saw this week, Andrew Jackson: The Good, Evil, and the Presidency, Natives suffered tremendously.  But that was only one act in this long drama between white Americans (and previously before them, white Europeans) and Native Americans.

The Indian Removal Act was passed by Congress in 1830, in order to remove the five tribes from areas of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.  Historian and noted Jackson scholar Robert Remini said that the Indians were removed from the eastern United States because they presented a direct threat to the country, having been used as sabotuers by foreign invaders in the past three wars that America had fought (French and Indian War, the Revolution, and the War of 1812).  Remini saw this act as improving the homeland security of the nation.  Other historians see the act within the context of the grab for new farm land in the cotton-growing frenzy that gripped the nation – the Indians were moved because the land they lived on was coveted by white farmers so that they could add to the cotton kingdom.  This act was unconstitutional because the Indians were seen as sovereign nations living within the U.S. in Article IV, Section 3, and even the Supreme Court affirmed that the Cherokee couldn’t be moved in Worcester v. Georgia.  Historian H.W. Brands states that President Jackson felt that this removal policy was “humane” and saved the Indians from annihiation from the crushing forces of white encroachment.

From there, however, Manifest Destiny charged ahead, damn the torpedoes, so to speak, and the Indians were in the way again.  Whether it be farm land, gold and silver mines, railroads, or the destruction of the buffalo, Native Americans became an easy target for white Americans moving westward.  The tribes were pushed aside and put onto reservations, or as the speaker in the TED talk below, Aaron Huey, calls them, “prisoner of war camps”.  Some Indians like Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse, just to name a few, fought back and succeeded at slowing down the demographic tide.  A 1911 ad offering "allotted Indian land" for sale

For most American history books, we see that they talk about the Indians almost always when they are being pushed off of their land by Europeans (King Philip’s War, Powhatan War, Seminole War, Indian Removal Act) or when they fight back (Battle of Little Bighorn, Red Cloud’s War) or after being indiscriminately massacred (Sand Creek and Wounded Knee Massacres).  Few cover the decimation of disaeases that faced the Native Americans when the Europeans first arrived.  Even fewer touch on 20th Century issues and laws regarding education, reservation (and sale of Indian land), tribal recognition, citizenship, Termination policy in the 1950s or other Indian policies like the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.  Our textbooks might talk about AIM or the standoff at Wounded Knee in 1973, but just as an inclusion of many minority groups in the chapter on the late 1960s / early 1970s. There might even be something about the seizure of Alcatraz Island by Native Americans. But rarely anything is heard after that.

 

In the following disturbing and moving video, photographer Aaron Huey lists the many things done (in the name of America) to the Lakota Sioux tribe.  He juxtaposes the litany of broken treaties and promises and horrific things with his own photos of the Lakota tribe at Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

Aaron Huey’s wish is that the American government honor the treaties and give back the Black Hills.  To atone for America’s sins, to use such a phrase, can anything truly be done?  Where, if anywhere, should Americans start to make up for what has been done to the Native Americans?   Is it right that we should speak in such manner as atoning for sins or asking for forgiveness?  Or do you feel that you have nothing to ask forgiveness for since these things had been done before you were born?  What responsibility do we have to Native Americans?

One major thing to consider is that though we may not have been personally responsible for oppressing the Native Americans, we benefit from the results of past policies of our government towards Native Americans (and even from past colonial practices).

Should we replace Columbus Day with Indigineous Peoples’ Day?

Should we push Congress to rescind the Medals of Honor distributed to the 7th Cavalry handed out after the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890?

Should reservations be abolished? Or should those that exist still remain yet receive generous help?

Should the Washington football team, the Cleveland Indians, or Atlanta Braves be forced to take new mascot names?

What can we learn from Canada and the way they have treated and honored their Native Americans?

Should we continue to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline (since President Trump has rescinded President Obama’s cancellation of it)?

Should Native Americans be given back their religious ceremonial artifacts, tens of thousands of which sit in museums, some on display, others locked in vaults? (for an upclose perspective, see the recent PBS film, What Was Ours here).

In finishing up the research for this blog (including reading chapters of the book, “All the Real Indians Died Off”: And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz) I found that Congress passed, as part of an appropriations bill, a resolution called the Native American Apology Resolution in 2009.  Introduced by Republican senator from Kansas, Sam Brownback, he said the reason he did this was “to officially apologize for the past ill-conceived policies by the US Government toward the Native Peoples of this land and re-affirm our commitment toward healing our nation’s wounds and working toward establishing better relationships rooted in reconciliation.”

Furthermore:

The Apology Resolution states that the United States, “apologizes on behalf of the people of the United States to all Native Peoples for the many instances of violence, maltreatment, and neglect inflicted on Native Peoples by citizens of the United States.”

The Apology Resolution also “urges the President to acknowledge the wrongs of the United States against Indian tribes in the history of the United States in order to bring healing to this land.”

The Apology Resolution comes with a disclaimer that nothing in the Resolution authorizes or supports any legal claims against the United States and that the Resolution does not settle any claims against the United States.

The Apology Resolution does not include the lengthy Preamble that was part of S.J Res. 14 introduced earlier this year by Senator Brownback.  The Preamble recites the history of U.S. – tribal relations including the assistance provided to the settlers by Native Americans, the killing of Indian women and children, the Trail of Tears, the Long Walk, the Sand Creek Massacre, and Wounded Knee, the theft of tribal lands and resources, the breaking of treaties, and the removal of Indian children to boarding schools.

  1. Tell us your reactions to the Ted Talk;
  2. Discuss your thoughts / concerns about how to acknowledge the debt America owes Native Americans and why.

400 words minimum for both answers.  Due Wednesday, February 1.  

Extended quotes come from the blog: https://nativevotewa.wordpress.com/2009/12/31/president-obama-signs-native-american-apology-resolution/

 

January 28

Hidden Figures

This film is a stirring show about the intersection of math and history and how math conquers all (rejoice, my math teacher friends!).  The story portrays the struggles of Dorothy Vaughn, NASA’s first African American supervisor; Katherine Johnson, the math expert on the John Glenn flightImage result for hidden figures review and also instrumental in the moon landing; and Mary Jackson, NASA’s first female African American engineer.  It is startling to see how Jim Crow racism was shoved in the face of these strong women, typified in Katherine’s struggle to maintain her dignity while sprinting across NASA’s campus to visit the only “colored” bathroom nearby.  Furthermore, the women of the West Computing Room have to deal with the intersectionality of both racism and sexism since they are women of color.  With Dorothy’s leadership, they are able to carve out a niche in the very male-dominated computing field.

In some ways, this is a film about progress: Civil Rights progress, gender progress, and also technology’s relentless march forward.  This is shown by the real film clips of Civil Rights protests occurring in 1961 and 1962.  We also see progress as women make strides into the male-dominated fields of computers and engineering. Image result for hidden figures review Almost all of the white male characters at NASA are
figurative clones, wearing white shirts, dark pants, and thin dark ties.  Occasionally, we might see a flash of color on Paul Stafford’s tie (Jim Parsons from The Big Bang Theory), but for the most part, all of the white men have the same uniform and haircuts.  That’s why the women of color stand out, not just in their attire but because of their skin color.  We see technology’s progress, however much it is double-sided, when Katherine temporarily loses her job as a “computer” in the Space Task Group when Dorothy finally gets the IBM Main frame computers online, a machine that can do 24,000 calculations a second.  This machine makes the women of both the East (white) and West (Black) Computing Rooms obsolete.  Only when the computer spits out different landing coordinates for John Glenn’s return to Earth right before launch does Al Harrison (Kevin Costner), NASA’s head of the Space Task Group, bring Katherine back in to confirm the computer’s numbers.

There was an outstanding moment near the end of the film when news of John Glenn’s orbit is released, and all Americans, regardless of skin color or gender, are united in their worries over the fate of Glenn (aImage result for hidden figures reviewnd by extension, America’s space program and maybe even it’s prominence in the Cold War).  Scenes show black and white Americans standing in front of a store front watching the TV reports about the peril Glenn faced as his capsule threatened to burn up on re-entry (an aside: imagine this dramatic scene of a nation gripped by a similar incident today – how would Americans be tuning into the progress of such an incident?  Certainly not standing on a street watching a TV).  Another scene showed Americans parking their cars and listening to their radios, staring up at the sky, looking for a fleeting glimpse of Glenn’s capsule, even though it was going to splash down in the Bahamas.  These scenes showed a united America, hoping and praying for the successful return of one of our golden boys, the Mercury 7 astronauts.  These scenes are also a way of showing how little militancy there is to this story of racial advancement and integration.  The most powerful scenes in the film are ones in which characters stand up for themselves or right the wrongs of our sordid past.  This is not a criticism of this film.  It doesn’t need to be angry about the past. In fact, this film emphasizes the women of the film and to dwell on America’s sad racial history isn’t what this film is about.  It’s about transcending that history.

I think that one of the larger question that everyone should be asking themselves is how did this story not make it into the history books?  It has great human drama, excitement, daring, perseverance, and a thrilling conclusion.  The other question is how many other hidden and forgotten stories are out there, waiting to be told?   If these ladies, who were such an extraordinary part of this story to send Americans into space, can be forgotten and shunted to the side for over 60 years, where are the rest of these stories?  One thing to keep in mind is that by telling these hidden stories of people / women of color, we as historians do not have to pick and choose to eliminate stories of white participants, but to include them all.    History doesn’t have to be like a pie to be carved up into smaller and smaller sections but like a tapestry that continues to be weaved into a more complete picture.

CHOOSE 3 OF THE 5 QUESTIONS BELOW AND ANSWER THEM. 

  1. Explain how the title “Hidden Figures” has different layers of meaning for this film and time period.
  2. Provide at least 2 specific examples of Jim Crow discrimination or racism perpetrated by the white characters and how they affected Katherine, Mary, and / or Dorothy.
  3. This is a story of overcoming challenges that white society put in the way of our main characters.  How did all three women overcame these obstacles.
  4. How did sexism affect Dorothy’s, Mary’s, and Katherine’s careers?  Provide specific examples.
  5. How does the Civil Rights Movement play as the backdrop for the advancing fight against the Cold War’s space race?  Provide examples.

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 350 words minimum for your total answer.  Due by 11:59 pm Saturday night, March 4.