#TBT: ‘Teaching Hard History’ has the history lessons not taught in schools

History February 3, 2022
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Listen to ‘Teaching Hard History’

For this week’s TBT podcast, we’re highlighting “Teaching Hard History.” Especially in light of school boards banning books about race, the Holocaust, and Critical Race Theory, it’s more important than ever to be learning our nation’s and society’s history. Especially its ugly history, because what we don’t know about American slavery, segregation, and racism is everyone’s problem.

Since 2018, “Teaching Hard History” has been releasing new episodes on a bi-weekly basis, racking up nearly 70 episodes in its RSS feed. Episodes are typically about an hour long, but some conversations need much more time than that, sometimes reaching nearly two hours. But, that’s 120 minutes with leading scholars and educators – most definitely time well spent.

“Teaching Hard History” is hosted by Hasan Jeffries and Dr. Bethany Jay. Jeffries is a college professor and author, and Dr. Jay is a historian and author, both specializing in American history. “Teaching Hard History” is a product of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s educational division called Teaching Tolerance.

While episodes primarily focus on slavery, the Jim-Crow era, and lasting racism in the United States, it does branch out to global topics as well. The Atlantic Slave Trade primarily brought enslaved Africans to both American continents as well as European and Asian nations. Most importantly, this podcast is not shaming anybody who doesn’t know about this side of history but instead inviting everybody to hear the truly important lessons that they think we should know.

Unsurprisingly, “Teaching Hard History” brings us interesting facts and stories not often taught in schools. Not leaving out any details, Jeffries and guests discuss the history of Black soldiers in America, from the American Revolution to finally being allowed to join the Union Army during the Civil War, through the Jim Crow era. They discuss the Tulsa massacre, the Red Summer, and the Great Migration, along with the history of the Black Panther Party and what (or, really, who) set the stage for Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

They speak with teachers about providing students with real American history, as well as speaking about race in the classroom and using #BlackLivesMatter to teach the Civil Rights Movement.

In a recent episode, they cover a topic that spans across generations, political ideologies, and beliefs: sports. Except, all of that isn’t true. As “Teaching Hard History” said, Black athletes have to play by two sets of rules in sports: that of the game and that of a racist society. They look at sports in the 20th century during the Jim Crow era: the athletes who broke the color line, Black fans, and Black press building communities.

They don’t just look at the 1900s, though. Race continues to be a major part of Black athletes’ careers. They cite specifically game 7 of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs. In overtime, Joel Ward, a Black left-winger for the Washington Capitals, scored the game-winning goal against the Boston Bruins. Bruins fans took to Twitter, flooding the social media site with racist tweets about Ward.

We saw it in June 2020 when former major league outfielder Torii Hunter gave several interviews about the racist abuse he was subjected to whenever his teams played in Boston. We saw it when Serena Williams became visibly frustrated at the 2018 Australian Open and an Australian newspaper printed racist comics about argument with the judge docked her a game. Not only did they depict her as extremely masculine, but instead of drawing a woman resembling her opponent, Naomi Osaka on the opposite side of the court, they drew a blonde white woman, for purposes of further alienating Williams into the “angry masculine Black woman” trope.

“Teaching Hard History” is arguably the most important “throwback” podcast we can recommend to you. It’s the history lessons that should be taught in schools across America (and is currently being suppressed). Hear these lessons from teachers and educators on “Teaching Hard History.”

Listen to ‘Teaching Hard History’

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