Pitchfork magazine wrote about the 2016 elections in an article titled, “How to Get Involved in Politics Right Now: Take These Musicians’ Leads.” They stressed the importance of teaching people’s history, “…we must take seriously the ways in which public school resources represent our history. One easy way to do so it to look at the Zinn Education Project.”
Pitchfork’s Daphne Carr wrote,
One of the most often blamed indices for why voters went for Trump was that they were “uneducated,” which is not an entirely accurate description of the situation. The problem is, people have been educated, but in a system that has been deeply manipulated by conservative Christian, racist, nationalist, and pro-capitalist forces. It comes from all sides, from forcing educational textbooks to valorize perpetrators of slavery and Indigenous genocide, to the creation of laws against the teaching of ethnic studies and other forms of accurate history.
If we are to shape a future that combats these forces, then we must take seriously the ways in which public school resources represent our history. One easy way to do so it to look at the Zinn Education Project and the materials created for teachers seeking to counter some of the current required texts within K-12 education. They have good recommendations not just for how to spread these materials, but how to advocate for accurate history in public schools.
Carr pointed to the work of Joey DeFrancesco, guitar player for the Downtown Boys, as an example of how to put this into practice.
DeFrancesco now does educational work at Slater Mill, an 18th-century cotton mill in Rhode Island—a place that school children and community members routinely pass but of which they may not know the real history. There is a way that this museum could sugarcoat the horrors of child labor and repression of labor organizing, but DeFrancesco is one of the people who keeps the museum honest in its representation of the mill as a foundational key to the exploitation of labor and the growth of industrial capitalism in America. He curated “The Mother of All Strikes,” an exhibit on the first organized labor strike in the U.S., which was led by women working at the mill.
Read the full article and with examples from the work of other musicians at Pitchfork.com.
To learn more about the Downtown Boys, called “America’s most exciting punk band” by Rolling Stone, watch this Democracy Now! segment.