The Charney Challenge: Donate to Support Reconstruction History in Our Schools

Fellow Zinn Education Project educators,

Michael Charney, retired public school social studies teacher and labor organizer.

For the last three years, I have provided funding for the Zinn Education Project campaign to Teach Reconstruction. With this support, the Zinn Education Project team has produced curriculum and held workshops to support and promote teaching about Reconstruction during its 150th anniversary. Teachers have shared stories about the profound impact of the Reconstruction lessons in their classrooms.

Now we are in a crucial stage. The Zinn Education Project can expand the teaching of Reconstruction at a time when the current administration seems to be enacting the Democratic Party’s 1868 election slogan that screamed, “This Is a White Man’s Country, White Men Shall Rule.”

Students can learn about the tremendous accomplishments of an interracial coalition that brought public education, the right to vote, and other progressive laws to Blacks and whites alike.

I hope you will join me to support the Zinn Education Project’s Teach Reconstruction campaign. In my Charney Challenge, I will match all donations to ZEP up to $10,000. That means your donation will be doubled.

With your help, we can create a movement to teach about the people’s history of Reconstruction. We need the resources — for advocacy, teacher organizing, and community outreach. We plan to engage our Teach Reconstruction campaign advisors and many of the expert scholars from the recent PBS film on Reconstruction to lead a petition drive urging that school districts Teach Reconstruction.

As a former classroom history teacher, I know how important it is to have the interactive lessons and historical perspective that the Zinn Education Project provides. Imagine if school districts made a commitment to teach the history of Reconstruction. They could support professional development, classroom resources, and commemorations of the 150th anniversary of key events such as the 15th Amendment in 2020.

The Zinn Education Project needs staff to coordinate this national campaign. Please donate to this effort today.

Join my “Charney Challenge” to make a people’s history of Reconstruction a reality in the nation’s classrooms. Students need this history and understanding, teachers need the resources, and most importantly, the nation needs a vision of racial justice that a deep appreciation of Reconstruction provides.


Michael Charney


We have wonderful news to share. Thanks to a number of very generous donors, we met the Charney Challenge of $10,000 for the Teach Reconstruction campaign!

If you did not get a chance to donate, you can still make an impact to support this campaign. Make your donation today.

Michael Charney is a retired public school social studies teacher with over 30 years of experience in education, labor organizing, and education policy. He provides strategic guidance to the campaign. Charney wrote curriculum guides to support student organizing including “Fulfilling the Promise of America: The Struggle for Voting Rights,” “The Minimum Wage and the Youth Vote,” and the “Present as History: A Look into the Origins of the Cleveland School Desegregation Case.”