Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Jimi

Today would have been Jimi Hendrix's 70th birthday...but like so many of his contemporaries he cut his life short at the young age of 27 by using LSD...amphetamines...alcohol...sleeping pills, etc. 
With the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, assassinations, and psychedelic drugs as his background music...he was arguably (though not a great role model) one of the greatest electric guitar players ever. He was one of many who used his music to question the world he lived in..."that's all I'm singing about...it's today's blues."

Here is a youtube of Jimi performing one of my favorites...
Hendrix interpretation of Bob Dylan's
All Along the Watchtower

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Reading is Revolutionary

Freedwoman Learning to Read
circa 1870

Freedman Schools were one of the most successful programs within the Freedman's Bureau...with over 4,000 schools built between 1865-1877. Unfortunately, these schools reached only 10% of 4 million possible African-American students of the South...because of lack of money, racism, etc.  
What is the current commitment to reading/ education in our culture? 
Considering that the Federal budget allocates only 4% of it's yearly budget to education and 6% to pay down the interest on our national debt...the question is a good one to ponder! Not to mention the amount of time texting, watching "mindless" television, etc. vs. nightly studies/ homework...
What reading does...a very short list.
Allows us to dream.
Takes us around the world.
Builds critical thinking skills.
Teaches us to pursue truth...freedom...justice...the best in others...

Oscar Wilde

I feel the legendary Irish writer and playwright Oscar Wilde says it best:
"It is what you read when you don't have
to that defines what you will be..."


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The "First" Thanksgiving

When does Black Friday start?!?
When was the "first" Thanksgiving in North America (Turtle Island)? 

Most of us were taught the "traditional story" (many historical myths surrounding this event) that in 1621 the Wampanoag Indians helped the Pilgrims to survive at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts and were invited by the Pilgrims to enjoy the fruits of their harvest at the first Thanksgiving feast.

There are many other claims to the "first" Thanksgiving:

St. Augustine, Florida...1565
James River Colony, Virginia...1619
Plymouth, Massachusetts...1621(Traditional Story)
Massachusetts Official Thanksgiving...1637
(Giving thanks for the death of 600 Native Americans)
Plymouth, Massachusetts...1676
(Giving thanks for the death of Metacom & 4,000 Native Americans)
Abraham Lincoln...1863
(Thanksgiving Proclamation as an official National Holiday)
Nanepashemet- Wampanoag Historian
It is hard to celebrate the "first" Thanksgiving when we begin to realize that the "first" Thanksgiving led to a betrayal of friendship...lies...broken treaties...genocide...forced assimilation...reservations...lost languages...poverty...

So what can we take out of Thanksgiving beyond massive amounts of food, parades, football, holiday advertising, the materialistic buying frenzy of Black Friday, past/ current sins against indigenous people groups, and the comfortable myths of the "first" Thanksgiving?
This is where I feel we must return to the "first" Thanksgiving to relearn valuable missed lessons:
Take responsibility for your actions...ask for forgiveness.
Learn from your mistakes.
Stand for integrity, honor, truth, justice, and reconciliation.
Give freely with a true heart to those who have nothing.
Give without holding back...the true way to earn respect.
Thanksgiving comes not once a year, but everyday.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Jellyfish Theory

Turritopsis Nutricula

The Theory of Transdifferentiation aka The Jellyfish Theory is a way to study ISMS (racism, sexism, nativism, imperialism, nationalism, etc.) in our history class and investigate how ISMS survive in various shapes and forms over time.  The reason we call it The Jellyfish Theory is based on the Turritopsis Jellyfish which is often called The Eternal Jellyfish.  This jellyfish transforms and reprograms itself from one cellular state to another through a process called transdifferentiation.  It truly is a jellyfish that does not die...unless killed!

For example using racism as our jellyfish:

The Black Codes
Jim Crow Laws
Dejure & Defacto Segregation
Racial Profiling
Police Brutality
Government Programs
Institutional Racism
Mass Incarceration
Media & Entertainment Racism
As you can see, it important before we start "Killing the Jellyfish" we must be very aware of what they look like and where they exist!  They are in the land where "ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL"...they are everywhere...
apartheid...caste systems...genocide...ethnic cleansing, etc. and this is just one ISM!
Have we lost our dream...of killing jellyfish?



Thursday, November 15, 2012


No matter what era of history we study there will always be common themes behind each and every historical event.The Big Umbrella is how we approach this concept of United States History at RHS.  The question could simply be stated:
What is the engine that drives history?
What is really behind (overarching themes) this event?
The Big Umbrella is "The Engine" or main theme behind the plot of historical events.  I feel that there are 5 major themes that are always present as "The Big Umbrella". Here are the 5 themes we try to get our students to identify behind historical events (and behind current events):
Political Power  
Religion/ Cultural Ideas

Another Look at The Big Umbrella?

"But Coach Fogs...what about me?!?"



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Funny WWII History Lesson

Sometimes students tend to get down on themselves after a rough test...the important thing is to learn from your mistakes and to continually look to improve. These are also attributes that will help you to be successful in the "real world".

George Washington Carver

"Start where you are, with what you have. Make something of it and never be satisfied."
                                                              - George Washington Carver

Here's a funny skit from SNL on WWII History to lift your spirits!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

"I only did my duty."


William Carney
Today in class we studied William Carney...the first African- American in United States History to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.  He received this award in 1900 (delayed by racism of the day) for his heroics during the Civil War at the Battle of Ft. Wagner. 
Lt. Col. Herbert Carter
This lesson reminded me of an African-American Congressional Gold Medal recipient whose medal was delayed for over 60 years!  Lt. Col. Herbert Carter passed away recently at the age of 95 on November 8th.  He was 1 of the 33 original Tuskegee Airmen and  flew 77 combat missions over the European Theatre during WWII.  President Bush awarded him and other Tuskegee Airmen the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007. A true American hero who fought for freedom and justice at home and abroad.

YouTube...My Greatest Challenge


Saturday, November 10, 2012

"Remembering" History

Whenever Hollywood (Steven Spielberg's Lincoln in this case) makes a movie "based on history", I read a book, Google search "information", or even listen to myself lecture...I caution my students to think about "how they remember" and as much as possible to rely on Primary Sources as "their lens" to history.

Why do we remember certain stories?

1. The story that is told usually "wins".  For example:
  • The Great Emancipator: Abraham Lincoln "freed the slaves."
  • Gettysburg Day 2: Little Round Top...what about Culp's Hill...The First Minnesota?
  • The Civil Rights Movement started with Rosa Parks and Dr. King.
  • "Weapons of Mass Destruction."
2. Those who have power can manipulate history.  For example:
  • Government
  • News Media
  • Publishers
  • Teachers...ouch!
3. We tend to "choose the positive" and the "comfortable myth".   For example:
  • The North and South "fighting for noble causes" during the Civil War.
  • "Remember the Maine!"
  • The Gulf of Tonkin Incident
  • Lee Harvey Oswald...

Geoffrey Barraclough quote..."to make anything out of history one must read, and consider, and reconsider, and than read some more." ...and maybe watch alot of college football to escape reality!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Veterans Day


Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day and was meant to celebrate the end of major hostilities in WWI which ended at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

Early traditions included 2 "Minutes of Silence" at 11 a.m.  The first minute to remember the 20+ million people who lost their lives during WWI and the second minute to pray for the living who had lost loved ones. 

In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower officially signed into law the changing of Armistice Day to Veterans Day...to honor all veterans.

Veterans Day seems to be a forgotten holiday by many (especially students) across the United States.  Once a solemn celebration to the dedication and sacrifice of U.S. Military Veterans...it seems to have been forgotten in many cities, schools, and organizations across the country.  I fondly remember honoring and listening to the stories of WWI, WWII, Korean, and Vietnam Veterans during school assemblies and the lasting impact these stories had on my life...a much longer lasting impact than text messaging, "reality" TV or even sitting in U.S. History class!!!

A famous poem "In Flanders Fields" (a generic term for WWI battlefields) was popularized by the soldier and poet John McCrae...here is the first verse.

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
between the crosses, row on row.
That mark our place; and in the sky
the larks, still bravely singing, fly.
Scarce heard amid the guns below.


The Inaugural Blog

Welcome to Fog's RHS US History Blog.  Time to start hunting jellyfish!!!