Teach Truth Day of Action 2024

Contents

Action Plan Overview | Action Plan Step-by-Step Guide

Media Guide | Posters and Graphics

Messages for Signs, Social Media, and Chants | Record a Statement

Co-Sponsors | Workshops and More Events 

Sign Up to Host a Table or Event

Join us on Saturday, June 8 to defend the freedom to learn.

For the past three summers, teachers rallied across the country to speak out against anti-history education bills. The educator-led events received national media attention, providing a valuable counter narrative to the oversized coverage of the well-funded anti-CRT movement.

Once again, we invite educators, students, parents, and community members to host an information table or event to defend the right to #TeachTruth (including about Palestine) and defend LGBTQ+ rights.

The right has declared war on teaching the truth about structural racism and sexism and on LGBTQ+ youth. Books by Black, Indigenous, people of color, LGBTQ+, and Palestinian American writers are increasingly being banned.

While claiming to “protect” young people, the right-wing legislators block any efforts to address gun violence (the leading cause of death for young people) and the existential threat of climate change.

In this election year, we need to reach as many people as possible with information about the chilling effect of these laws and how they threaten any chance of an informed and engaged democracy.

Join the campaign to spread the word — it is easy to participate.

Host an information table at a public site (such as a library, bookstore, or farmers market) or organize a gathering at a historic site. Sign up today.

Event hosts can receive a Teach Truth pop-up installation box with banned books and other resources. All you need to do is select a site and register.

Action Plan Overview

While the step-by-step guide further below (after the co-sponsor list) is detailed, the process is simple:

  1. Select a public site. Host an information table at a public site (like a library, bookstore, museum, festival, or farmers market) or organize a gathering at a historic site. The group can be any size. Every voice and action counts!
  2. Select your activity. Information tables require just one or two people and you will receive a Teach Truth pop-up installation box with banned books and other resources. Or plan a history walking tour, book exchange, rally, etc. See ideas in the slides and detailed description further below.
  3. Post photos and videos to social media with the hashtag #TeachTruth

Sign up to receive resources and support.

Below are examples of day of action activities, from prior events around the country.

 

Sign Up to Host a Table or Event

Leadership

The annual Teach Truth Day of Action is coordinated by Rethinking Schools’ and Teaching for Change’s Zinn Education Project and led by educators around the country with the support of the co-sponsors listed below.

 

Co-sponsors

Abolitionist Teaching Network, Advancement Project, African American Policy Forum, AFT Share My Lesson, American Social History Project, American Youth Policy Forum, Amplifier, Anti-Racist Teaching and Learning Collective, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, BARWE, Black Lives Matter at School, BlackPast, Center for Black Educator Development, Center for K-12 Black History and Racial Literacy Education, Civil Rights Movement Archive, COLAGE, Color of Change, Communities for Just Schools Fund, Economics for Emancipation, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities, The Equity Lab, Faith & Prejudice, Foundation 451, GLSEN, HEAL Together / Race Forward, Historians for Peace and Democracy, Human Rights Campaign, Information Wanted, Institute for Common Power, Kinfolk, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, Learning for Justice, Monument Lab, NAACP NYS Conference, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, National Education Association, National Equity Project, National Women’s Law Center, The New Republic, Our Turn, Project 2043, Pulitzer Center’s 1619 Education Program, Red Wine & Blue, Roots to Revolution, SNCC Legacy Project, Stonewall National Museum and Archives, SURJ, Teach Rock, United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, Visiting Room Project, Voice of Witness, Wee Nation Radio, Who We Are Project, Women’s Equity Center and Action Network, and more groups.

Interested in adding your organization as a co-sponsor? Sign up here.

Event hosts also reference the Teach Truth Media Guide.

Day of Action Step-By-Step Guide

1. SELECT A SITE, DATE, AND TIME

Belton, Texas. Photo by Richard Beaule.

Plan where to host your table or event. Select any time on June 8 or another day. For example, San Diego high school teacher Don Dumas held an event last year with his students over Memorial Day weekend.

For an information table, select a place where people will come to you. It could be a library, bookstore, farmers market, museum, festival, pride parade, or other public place.

_ _ _

For events, pick a site that symbolizes or reflects history that may be off limits in the classroom under the anti-CRT laws. It could be identified by a historic marker, statue, archive, burial ground, or museum. There are also countless historic sites that are unmarked — such as a freeway that destroyed a neighborhood or a university building funded by enslaved labor.

The power of selecting a historic site is that it becomes the focus of your media interviews, providing a concrete example of the history young people have a right to learn. The event can also be a virtual teach-in or town hall. 

If in person, we encourage you to be aware of any local guidance or ordinances on public gatherings in your area. And although outdoor gatherings are safer, have paper masks available. 

 

 

2. PLAN AN ACTIVITY

Host an Information Table: Secure a location and determine if they will provide a table or if you need to bring one. Host the information table for two to three hours. Identify at least one other person to help you with set up, taking photos, and responding to questions as people come by.

The Teach Truth pop-up display box that you will receive from the Zinn Education Project includes three banned books with colorful information sheets about why they were banned, plus postcards, buttons, and signs. Bring a white tablecloth or white craft paper and any additional materials you would like for the display — such as more banned books and a “Teach Truth” photo frame.

If you are hosting an information table, you can skip to step 4. 

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Organize an Event. Invite fellow educators, family members, students, and community members to join you. The group can be any size.

Determine type of action. There are a lot of options for organizing your event. Below are some ideas from the events in 2021 (June and August), 2022, and 2023. For any events with speakers, it helps to have access to a microphone and amplifier so that everyone can hear.  

Teachers read pledges and/or students testify at a historic site. There is power in having a group of teachers read their pledges aloud and students testify to why they want to learn outside the textbook. Arrange to have one person as an MC who can create a list of the teachers who agree to read their pledges, introducing them one by one and keeping the program moving at a good pace.

In preparation, ask teachers and students ahead of time to write and read their pledges during the day of action to share why learning the truth about history is important to them. For example, in Washington, D.C., the group met at the African American Civil War Memorial. A teacher was the MC, the memorial director (who is also a SNCC veteran) spoke, and then teachers read their pledges. See photos and stories about the D.C. events in 2021, 2022, and 2023.

March. Walk on a route with signs to raise awareness about the threats to education. Or march to a local civic building. Music and chants are a plus.

Teachers and students on the Truth Walk in Decatur. Photo by Dean Hesse, 2022.

Walking tours. In addition to selecting a historic site for your convening, you can invite participants to walk or march to additional sites. Teachers in Memphis and Seattle organized walking tours, with different people responsible for sharing the history at each location. Here is the announcement for Memphis and photos of the event. In Waterloo, Iowa, speakers addressed the history of various sites that were in close proximity. A Seattle tour focused on sites relevant to 1919. 

Rally with speakers. In addition to having teachers read pledges, you can invite noted guests to speak. Speakers could include historians, elected officials, poets, voting or climate justice activists, labor leaders, and more. We recommend encouraging speakers to keep their talks to five minutes or less. Here are some sources for speakers:

Books to symbolize banned history. As you plan your event, consider visuals to convey the goals of your gathering to the public and the media. One suggestion is to have everyone bring a book that symbolizes the history they want to protect the right to teach about. In Concord, New Hampshire, there was a book swap.

Educators rallied to pledge to teach the truth in Concord, New Hampshire. Photo by Troy Cromwell.

The Concord invitation said:

Participants are encouraged to bring a book that changed their perspective on systemic racism/inequity that might be considered “divisive” under the new law and treat the event as a giant book swap. Attendees will be welcomed to place their book on the capitol steps and at the end of the event, anyone who brings a book can pick a new one!

In Pasadena, Maryland, organizers invited people to a banned books “photo booth” at a local library. They set up a table and had visitors take a photo with a banned book and cardboard frame.

We offer instructions and downloadable materials to create a pop-up Teach Banned Books display. If you sign up, you can receive a box with some of those materials.

Students as Historians. Students can be invited to share the local history of the respective site you select.

Sojourn to the Past students shared the Jim Crow history of swimming pools in Youngstown.

In Youngstown, students in a youth group shared the history of the local pool. (See photo above.) They also made the link to mass incarceration. A prisoner (speaking via cell phone and amplifier) addressed the group.  

In Georgia, participants were invited to write in chalk. Decatur High School staff member Jennifer Young said at the #TeachTruth event,

Jennifer Young. Photo by Dean Hesse.

What we would love for you to do is cover the sidewalk with whatever you learned today, because that’s not being taught in your school and it can be taught in the Square.

The reason we are using chalk is because this is just like history. If we’re not careful, it can all get washed away.

Gather at History Sites Countywide. In Westchester County, an organizer got folks to pledge to #TeachTruth at sites throughout the county on July 22. Photos and description of how the event was organized.

Virtual teach-in or town hall. The day of action event can be offered online as a teach-in with various presenters or a large group town hall. For example, in 2021 the Foster Woods Folk School offered a virtual teach-in with a series of five- to seven-minute “illegal lessons” from or about a historical site or event near them. Sessions descriptions and video. Black Lives Matter at School — Iowa hosted a town hall forum for educators, parents, and students to discuss the impact of the legislation and honor the stories and experiences of Black Iowans.

For more ideas, see the actions from June and August, 2021, 2022, and 2023.

Before you keep reading, please sign up using the button below. It is important that we are in touch with all the site coordinators so we can offer support and resources.

Sign Up to Host a Table or an Event

 

3. SECURE SPONSORS

Invite local organizations to endorse or join your action, such as the:

    • state council for social studies
    • teacher education programs at local universities
    • teacher unions
    • middle and high school student groups
    • local poets, musicians, and artists
    • voting rights organizations
    • climate justice groups
    • education advocacy groups
    • community based civic organizations
    • local elected officials
    • parent associations
    • religious leaders
    • racial justice organizations

As an example, the D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice has secured the following co-sponsors for this year, in addition to the co-host, the African American Civil War Museum and Memorial.

 

4. SPREAD THE WORD

If you prefer not to have your event listed, skip this step.  

Create a Facebook event or webpage announcement. For Facebook, check out this example from D.C.

Send that link to the Zinn Education Project so that we can announce your event. We will add it to a page listing all the events nationally — and if you like — we can send an email to all the teachers on our list in your state or region. (We will send the email to you to check first to make sure all the information is correct.)

Create a graphic for your event. (See Berkeley example to right.) We will send you templates and customizable graphics as soon as you sign up.

On the announcement, include the hashtag #TeachTruth, a link to the national call to action, directions to the site, remind participants to bring signs (or a book), a mask, and a reusable water bottle. (We discourage the use of plastic water bottles, so encourage participants to bring reusable bottles.) Ask for volunteers to take photos and help with social media.

Create a social media profile picture with our Canva template to show solidarity with the June 8 Day of Action.

Use the sample copy and resources below to promote your action and share why you’re doing it! Use images from this folder.

Social Media

Use the hashtag #TeachTruth

Before your action

As an educator, it is my job to #TeachTruth. On June 8, we are raising awareness of the dangers of not teaching honestly about U.S. history and systemic racism, and also the need to defend LGBTQ+ students. Will you join me at (INSERT LOCATION or SITE)?

Not acknowledging our country’s history, including racism and other oppression, is deception, not education. That’s why I’m joining the Pledge to #TeachTruth on (INSERT DATE)! We’ll be meeting at (insert location or site) at (insert time).

Educators pledging to #TeachTruth know the power of knowledge to create a more just society. I’m joining the national movement to Pledge to #TeachTruth on (INSERT DATE. Join me! (Include event details…)

Post personal testimony. Some examples are:

I wish I had learned about.. . .
I won’t be able to teach  . . .
It was important when I learned…
I became a teacher to. . .
A democracy depends on students learning . . .

Day of your action

When we know the truth of our past, we understand our present, and see opportunities to build a different future. Today, we stand to say #WeWontLie. We Pledge to #TeachTruth!
Show solidarity with educators. Join all of us who are pledging to #TeachTruth today at [Include event details…] #WeWontLie
Lawmakers in at least 44 states are working to prevent teachers from teaching truth in our classrooms. Not acknowledging the history of systemic racism and other oppression is deception, not education. Stand with me today as I pledge to #TeachTruth.
Sample message and graphic for social media

After your action

On (INSERT DATE), we stood together and proclaimed, #WeWontLie. We pledge to #TeachTruth. Our work is not over. Tell your legislators: we will not accept bills that censor or force educators to lie!
Thank you for standing with educators who are pledging to #TeachTruth. You can continue to show your solidarity with us by telling your legislators: we will not accept bills that censor or force educators to lie to students.

Sample Social Graphics

Use social graphics with the post content above. Find those here!

You’ll see folders with graphics sized for Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram ready for use.  In each folder, you will find PowerPoint slides. Use the slides to create your own, customized graphic.

Download and open the slides.
Consider adding a quote from an educator, community leader, or yourself!
Consider adding a line of text to send a powerful message, for example, “Teach Truth to Change the Future”.
Select the slide you want to save as an image, then go to File > Save As (PC) or File > Export (Mac). Choose a location and file name, then select Save As Type and choose an image format (JPEG, JPG, or PNG).
Now the slide is ready for your post!

You’ll see a folder called “Local Event – Customizable Graphic” that contains files you can add your local event time, date, and location to and promote!

You’ll also find a folder called profile-pic, for use creating a social media profile picture to show solidarity with the June 8 Day of Action.

Download and open the slides.
To add your own picture, right click the image, select “change picture” or “replace image” and choose a file from your computer.
Select the slide you want to save as an image, then go to File > Save As (PC) or File > Export (Mac). Choose a location and file name, then select Save As Type and choose an image format (JPEG, JPG, or PNG).
Upload to your social platforms.

And finally, you’ll find a folder of graphics that can be printed on 8 ½ x 11 or legal sized paper and used as signs on the day of or as PDFs for outreach emails.

Ideas for signs

Sample Email Copy

Use the messaging before depending on which stage of the action you are organizing

For use before your action

Hi [NAME],

I’m writing to ask you to join me on the Teach Truth Day of Action. On (INSERT DATE), we are joining a national movement of educators who are coming together at historic locations around the country to speak up against legislative efforts to ban or prevent teachers from teaching the truth about the role of racism, sexism, heterosexism, and oppression throughout U.S. history.

When we know the truth of our past, we understand our present, and see opportunities to build a different future. This unites us.

Not acknowledging the country’s actual history, including racism and other oppression, is deception, not education.

On (INSERT DATE), we will meet at:

Location

Time

Address

Please be prepared to bring (ex. water, snack, etc). And don’t forget to also wear a mask, so we can protect the health and well-being of all people in attendance.

If you can’t join, you can still show your support using your social media and let your friends and community know that you stand with educators who are Pledging to Teach Truth!

You can learn more about this national call for action being led by the Zinn Education Project (coordinated by Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change) with more than 50 cosponsors.

For use the day of your action

Hi [Insert Name],

Today is the day!

Join us as we defend the freedom to learn. We’ll be meeting:

Location

Time

Address

Remember — if you cannot attend, you can still stand in solidarity with us by sharing our message on social media and showing that you stand with educators who teach the truth!

Thank you for joining us!

For use following your action

Thank you everyone who joined us, posted on social media, and cheered us on on (INSERT DATE)

It was inspiring to channel our outrage and energy into showing that we won’t lie about our history, and we pledge to teach TRUTH! Our message must persist.

You can continue to share and support our message by telling lawmakers: we will not accept bills that would censor and force educators to lie.

Thank you for helping us amplify our message!

Sample Website Copy

Create space on your website to tell people what you’re doing to defend the right to teach truthfully, and why. Use the sample copy below as a starting point!

We are joining the national movement to Teach Truth on (INSERT DATE). Join us! The details are below:

Date

Location

Time

Address

Please be prepared to bring (insert water, snacks, etc). And don’t forget to also wear a mask, so we can protect the health and well-being of all people in attendance.

If you can’t join, you can still show your support using your social media and letting your friends and community know that you stand with educators who Teach Truth!

You can learn more about this national call for action being led by the Zinn Education Project (coordinated by Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change) with more than 50 cosponsors.

 

5. PREPARE MATERIALS AND MORE FOR THE DAY OF ACTION

Make signs or download them, from this graphics toolkit. You can make your own signs — here are dozens of ideas for language. Listen to sample chants.

Print handouts from the toolkit.  

Gather supplies you might need, such as tape, a trash bag, sign-up sheets, pens, and markers. Bring a few water bottles as backup in case people don’t bring their own.

Review safety considerations for the day. The AFSC offers a list of tips.

 

6. GET IN THE NEWS

Make sure teachers’ voices are heard. We had a lot of success the past two years with local and national media coverage.

The media guide includes templates and guidance for media releases. We will offer a media training closer to the date.  Check out selected local coverage from June 2021 in Portland, Waterloo, Youngstown, and Rhode Island; 2022 for Georgia, Ohio, and Washington; and multiple cities in 2023.

The media announcements are sent as soon as you plan your event, two days in advance of the event, and on the morning of the event. Take some time to read the media guide FAQs and sample releases.

 

7. OPTIONAL  

Have tables set up for postcard writing to legislators. Have a list of legislators available to send postcards to.  

Have tables set up for social media posts with signs for people to hold. Once you sign up, we will send you lots of downloadable graphics to use as is or to customize.

Order yard signs for participants to take home. Learn how.

For your event, school, library, office: print this poster. Designed to be printed in 8.5. x 11, 11 x 17, or larger.

 

8. DURING THE EVENT

Post photos and videos to social media with the hashtag: #TeachTruth 

 

9. AFTER THE EVENT

Send pictures and descriptions from your event to the Zinn Education Project for posting online. Email to info@zinnedproject.org.

Take the time to congratulate yourself and your colleagues!

 


ASK FOR SUPPORT

Please stay in touch, share updates, and ask for assistance. We have team members who can schedule a call with you to help with your organizing and/or media strategy. We want every site to be as successful as possible.

Fill out the form below. We will send you a media guide and graphics.  

Sign Up to Host a Table or an Event

Not ready to organize an action? Here are other ways to participate. All you need is a sign, a historic site, and yourself!


Workshops and More Events

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