Inspired by Students: a Message from Roger Brooks

Roger Brooks, President and CEO of Facing History and Ourselves

 

Dear Educators,

What have our students learned this year about making a positive impact in the world?

Given the state of current events in political and cultural spheres across the globe, this question likely has an urgency not felt in recent memory. In the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges posed by repeated incidents of violence and hatred, both close to home and a world away, do we as educators help young people make their voices matter?

As we head into the summer months and many of us are finishing the school year, I believe the best inspiration comes not from us, but from our students themselves. In this spirit, I’m honored to share the experience of Facing History student Kobi J., a high school freshman from Palo Alto, California.

I had the great pleasure of meeting Kobi at a Facing History event in San Francisco this April. He gave a passionate account of his successful effort to get the Palo Alto school board to change the name of his middle school when he learned it was named after a supporter of eugenics (racist beliefs wrapped in pseudo-science about how to “improve” the human race). Everyone in audience was mesmerized by this young man’s ability to use what he learned through Facing History to help effect change in his community.

Please take a moment to watch this short clip of Kobi’s speech:

 

I urge you to remember Kobi’s words and actions over the coming months, and to share them with anyone who needs a reminder of how young people not only can, but must press forward to make our world a place that values knowledge and compassion, not prejudice and bigotry.

Kobi inspires me to continue broadening and deepening the work of Facing History and Ourselves, as does the hope that someday, every single young person will have the same opportunity as Kobi to make a positive difference in the world.

My thanks to each of you for your commitment to educating the next generation of Upstanders, both inside and outside of the classroom.

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