When Statues Come Down, Students Can Help Determine What Goes Up

Christopher Columbus statue torn down at Minnesota State Capitol June 10, 2020. Credit: Tony Webster via Flickr

As monuments to enslavers come down, we recommend talking with young people about the stories that were ignored in their communities while white supremacist history was elevated. It is not just that Confederates were honored — the people who fought against them were hidden. One place to start is with Reconstruction, one of the most important yet under-taught periods in U.S.history. Reconstruction was a time of activism and promise — a moment of democracy with Black leadership.

What happened in your city or state during Reconstruction?

Through this research project, students identify Reconstruction history in their community to add to this map.

Young people can identify and document accomplishments in Reconstruction history such as schools, hospitals, election sites, Freedmen’s Bureau offices, Black churches, Black newspapers, Black-owned businesses, prominent individuals, organizations, and key events. For younger children, this can be a summer family research project.

We offer research suggestions to Make Reconstruction History Visible and a map where young people can share what they find as part of our Teach Reconstruction campaign.

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