Log out
My profile and settings
My bookmarks
Comment history
Please complete your account verification. Resend verification email.
today
This verification token has expired.
today
Your email address has been verified. Update my profile.
today
Your account has been deactivated. Sign in to re-activate your account.
today
View all newsletters in the newsletter archive
today
You are now unsubscribed from receiving emails.
today
Sorry, we were unable to unsubscribe you at this time.
today
0
0
Back to profile
Comment Items
You have not left any comments yet.
title
you replied to a comment:
name
description
Saved Posts
You haven’t bookmarked any posts yet.
“He spoke briefly—just 5 minutes—but as soon as he had finished, I thought: Far more people should be doing this.”
read more
Become a Gates Notes Insider
Sign up
Log out
Personal Information
Title
Mr
Mrs
Ms
Miss
Mx
Dr
Cancel
Save
This email is already registered
Cancel
Save
Please verify email address. Click verification link sent to this email address or resend verification email.
Cancel
Save
Address
Cancel
Save
Email and Notification Settings
Send me updates from Bill Gates
You must provide an email
On
Off
Send me Gates Notes survey emails
On
Off
Send me the weekly Top of Mind newsletter
On
Off
Email me comment notifications
On
Off
On-screen comment notifications
On
Off
Interests
Select interests to personalize your profile and experience on Gates Notes.
Saving Lives
Energy Innovation
Improving Education
Alzheimer's
Philanthropy
Book Reviews
About Bill Gates
Account Deactivation
Click the link below to begin the account deactivation process.
If you would like to permanently delete your Gates Notes account and remove it’s content, please send us a request here.
Just mercy
An inspiring reminder of why teaching history matters
Bryan Stevenson makes a compelling case for why we should all learn about the past.
|
0

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to join 500 social studies teachers in watching a talk by Bryan Stevenson.

Bryan founded and runs the Equal Justice Initiative, an amazing organization based in Alabama that works to fix our country’s draconian criminal justice system. EJI provides legal representation for people who have been unfairly sucked into that system. The organization also does inspiring work to educate the public about the horrors of slavery and racism through its Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. It’s hard to imagine a better person to kick off a conference for social studies teachers than Bryan. (If you aren’t familiar with him, I recommend watching the movie or reading the book Just Mercy.)

His speech was part of a conference hosted by an effort that I created called the OER Project. They support social studies teachers by providing them with new curricula, content, and a community to share ideas (OER stands for “open educational resources”). I think most people are familiar with the work of the OER Project because of Big History, but they now offer multiple high-quality courses for educators. Attendance for this year’s conference is—like everything that OER offers—free to all teachers.

Bryan was one of several speakers over the course of three days. His remarks focused on the role teachers can play in examining the American experience and helping young people find a new way forward. He spoke at length about the parts of U.S. history that are often left out of the classroom, including the historical racism experienced by Black Americans.

I was moved by his description of EJI’s work to document lynching in the American South. Their researchers have identified at least 800 new victims of lynching so far, people whose names were lost to history until now. Bryan described how EJI collects soil samples from lynching sites and uses them to create memorials for the victims.

Bryan believes that “no innovation will take place if we don’t intimately understand the problem” we’re trying to fix. I agree. Today’s students have the power to create a better future for all people, and teachers are helping them build their framework for understanding the world. I’m glad that many schools are starting to teach a more comprehensive look at our country’s past. If you want to see the progress that humanity has made, you have to know where we came from—even if that past is ugly at points.

I hope the teachers who attended the conference feel inspired as they get ready to go back to school this fall. This is an incredibly challenging time to be an educator, but Bryan’s talk was a terrific reminder of just how important the work of educating people is. If you’re a social studies teacher, you can access all of the conference’s materials online for free by registering here.

Read this next
NEXT