Exploring Our Universe of Obligation: a Message from Roger Brooks

Roger Brooks, President and CEO of Facing History and Ourselves

Dear Friend of Facing History,

The new school year is upon us, and as always it brings challenges and boundless possibilities.

But there is something new this year. The violence of Charlottesville has raised significant questions about fundamental American values. And just yesterday, as a result of the Trump Administration’s decision to end the protections provided by DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), in six months thousands of students may be faced with possible deportation.

The re-examination of who we are as a nation—and of who we are as global citizens—returns us to an unsettling, provocative place, the likes of which we haven’t seen perhaps since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 60’s. Questions of belonging, identity, and free speech pierce the air with urgency. These same questions are where every teacher can use the lessons of history.

Facing History can help you craft the conversation. We have learned from so many teachers to create a safe space in classrooms—our best laboratories for democracy—for discussion, debate and discovery. We can help you and your students to use the lessons of history to open a world of possibilities for the present and the future.

Over the coming year, Facing History will develop The Better Arguments Project, in partnership with The Aspen Institute’s Program on Citizenship and American Identity.

America doesn’t just have arguments; America is an argument: between Federalist and Anti-Federalist world views, strong national government and local control, liberty and equality, individual rights and collective responsibility, color-blindness and color-consciousness, Pluribus and Unum.
-Eric Liu, director of the Citizenship and American Identity Project

Now more than ever, we need to actively engage with those who have beliefs different from our own. And just as we do when contracting in our classrooms, we must now interact with respect, patience, and a willingness to listen with purpose. This is the perfect time to engage with your own civic responsibility and to help your students engage theirs: know the issues, make your voice heard, contact your representatives, vote.

But be active where you are—I have no doubt that the changes will radiate touching communities beyond your classrooms.

Facing History is ready to offer help. Thank you for all that you do in creating the next generation of world leaders.

With my gratitude for all you do,

Roger Brooks, President and CEO of Facing History and Ourselves

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