We express our heartfelt appreciation to Alison Kysia for her work with the Zinn Education Project.
Kysia began as a volunteer in the fall of 2013 and joined our staff for special projects in 2014. Here are a few of her many contributions.
Green Feather Movement: In response to recent attempts to ban people’s history and curricula, Kysia researched a student-led resistance campaign against McCarthyism in the 1950s. She located one of the few (if not only) surviving founders of the Green Feather Movement, Bernard Bray, for an interview. Kysia’s description of the movement is now online to inspire future generations.
Bashing Howard Zinn: A Critical Look at One of the Critics: Kysia wrote a carefully researched response to one of the many posthumous attacks on Howard Zinn. Her scholarly critique took on Sam Wineburg’s “Undue Certainty: Where Howard Zinn’s A People’s History Falls Short,” published in the American Educator. Kysia wrote in her introduction, “Although Wineburg is not the only critic of Zinn, he is nevertheless significant and less susceptible to easy dismissal…. Because Howard Zinn was a leading advocate of a grassroots historical perspective—one that inspires educators to rethink and revise their curricula—an attack on Zinn is a way of discouraging educators from teaching a people’s history. Thus, it’s worth subjecting Wineburg’s critique to careful scrutiny.”
A People’s History of Muslims in the United States: What school textbooks and the media miss: Kysia contributed an article to our “If We Knew Our History” series on the hidden history of Muslims throughout U.S. history. We had it published on Common Dreams and the Huffington Post, where it received an enthusiastic response.
William Loren Katz: A People’s Historian: William Loren Katz, has written many books for young adults on people’s history topics and has been an activist himself dating back to joining a protest in defense of the Scottsboro Boys along with his parents. Kysia interviewed Katz for a profile on the Zinn Education Project website about his childhood and his life as a teacher and historian. The result is a warm tribute to a dedicated people’s historian.
Lesson on “Congo, Colonialism and Cell Phones”: Kysia’s has long taught a lesson on the Congo in her community college courses. She adapted the lesson for high school and offered it as a workshop at the National Council for the Social Studies conference in 2014. It was so popular that she is now field-testing the lesson in the D.C. area in preparation for further editing and posting online.
Preparation of New Content for the Zinn Education Project website: Kysia led the project to prepare 12 new Rethinking Schools teaching activities for the Zinn Education Project website. The themes include the environment, displacement, economics, foreign policy, and civil rights. Working with writers, editors, designers, and artists, Kysia coordinated this vital task.
These highlights do not include the behind-the-scenes contributions made to strategic planning and overall operations. Kysia has greatly advanced the mission of the Zinn Education Project and will continue to serve on our planning team.