On November 4th, Katie, a senior at the Judge Memorial Catholic High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, and her mother "coincidentally" found themselves in Chicago.
Yes, Chicago. I was there (coincidentally) on election day – November 4, 2008. This wasn’t just any election in any city, though. This was THE election in THE city. It was the election that will forever make history. Obama was elected the first African-American president of the United States and I was there at Grant Park where he gave his acceptance speech. It was truly one of the most moving experiences of my life.
When Katie got home she posted her reflections on this event on Youth Voices, a social network for students that her teacher, Chris Sloan helps to maintain. The joy in Katie’s writing and in her image that she inserted with her text captured that important moment for the hundreds of other students who post their work on Youth Voices.
"I saw so many people whose faces expressed a relief that some glimmer of hope had finally come that, in fact, a black man could conquer a still very racist nation." Katie wrote in her post. "At that moment in time, our country seemed to get a little bit more accepting, and this was making people uncontrollably happy."
A Latina from Flushing, New York didn’t share Katie’s enthusiasm. In fact, for Dominique, an 11th grader at the East-West School for International Studies, something in what Katie had written brought to a head something that had been bothering her about the way people were
talking about Obama:
Another sentence that I found wrong and stirred up some anger is "a black man could conquer a still very racist country." It’s honestly comical. If this was " a still very racist country " then trust me Obama would have not become President. Let me give you some valuable insight. Without the support of the Hispanic population and Caucasian population, there would be no (according to you) "First African-American President ". You believe this country is racist, but you don’t realize that this country is racist because of people who exploit a certain race and make it seem that they on top of everyone else.
On the weekend after Dominique’s comment, Chris Sloan contacted Dominique’s teacher, Paul Allison, and Chris and Paul decided that it might be interesting to invite Katie and Dominique, along with another student, Farisa, to get together on Teachers Teaching Teachers to talk things over.
That’s where this show begins.
In addition the students were joined by Elizabeth Berryman, Director of the PBS Teacher Center in Virginia. Elizabeth provided some follow up to a project that Susan Ettenheim’s students at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in New York City participated in. We had talked with Elizbeth in an earlier show about the Video the Vote,a partnership between PBS and YouTube. On this show Elizabeth and Susan talk about how students and teachers took to this project, and Elizabeth begins to decribe the next project in which students will be invited to video the human impact of the economic crisis that we face.
Enjoy! And consider sharing this one with your students.