Welcome back to the 255! In honor of concluding Black History Month, we wanted to highlight an important new book from emerging scholar and former first parter of Stockton, CA, Anna Malaika Tubbs. Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr, and James Baldwin are some of the most famous figures of the long endeavor to combat racial injustice in the US. Three individuals that are less well-known in the history books are their mothers. Tubbs seeks to explain how Louise Little, Alberta King, and Berdis Baldwin shaped the future of the United States in her new book The Three Mothers. We’ve got all the details, plus articles and podcasts below to learn more information about Anna Malaika Tubbs and her work. Check it out!

Anna Malaika Tubbs is a force to be reckoned with. Tubbs is an activists, educator, scholar, and now author! She received her undergraduate degree from Stanford University and is currently a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Cambridge. Throughout her childhood, Tubbs grew up in many countries abroad, namely Dubai, Mexico, Sweden, Estonia, and Azerbaijan. Inspired by her mother’s women’s rights advocacy work, Anna now uses her intersectional lens throughout her work to educate and advocate for the rights of women of color. She has also participated in fundraising for women’s clinics and other organizations that share her passion for social justice and advocacy. Finally, Anna also works as a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant who has worked with companies and individuals interested in progressing their DEI goals. Follow her on Twitter @annas_tea_ and learn more about her biography and work here.

Malcolm X said “the mother is the first teacher of the child. The message she gives that child, that child gives to the world.” Unfortunately, it is not hard to understand how the work of these three women have been overlooked by the major voices of U.S. history. Tubbs’ book rewrites the narrative to feature the crucial impact these women had on the making of the modern United States. A New York Times article recently highlighted a review of Tubbs’ work in which they explain “[Tubbs] aims to correct [the] erasure [of these mothers from history] by piecing together what she can from the ‘margins and footnotes’ of books, speeches, funeral programs, and letters.”

Tubbs’ book, out now, is already being lauded by critiques. The Three Mothers is already being reviewed by major magazines and newspapers as one of the best “21 Books to Look Forward to in 2021!” (Fortune Magazine), one of the “Badass Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2021” (Badass Women’s Bookclub), and as an “eye-opening, engrossing read” by New York Times Bestselling author, Brit Bennett. The Three Mothers was also the topic of discussion on one of our favorite podcasts, Getting Curious, hosted by Jonathan Van Ness (from Queer Eye, another fav!) Tubbs joins Van Ness to discuss her new book as well as give the audience a deeper look into her studies of Black motherhood. Listen to the episode entitled How Can We Honor Black Motherhood? wherever you find your pods.

We hope you enjoyed this segment of #AcademiaIRL. It’s important to notice works of academia in the “real world”, and applaud those who work beyond the hallowed halls of colleges and universities to continue learning and educating. Be sure to look into Anna Malaika Tubbs’ book, The Three Mothers, and tells us your thoughts and takeaways. We will see you in our next segment on the 255! As always a gentle reminder to be kind, stay safe, and read books and work of black women!!

Welcome back to the 255! We hope that you all are settling into the new semester’s rhythm. This week’s blog post highlights the celebration of the upcoming Lunar New Year. We hope this post gives you more insight into the celebration of the Lunar New Year and the culture it’s part of. We’ll also debunk some common misconceptions regarding the holiday and demonstrates the various ways individuals can celebrate.

Although the holiday season in the United States refers to the months of November and December, many Asian countries anticipate another season of holidays soon after the start of the calendar year. The Lunar Year traditionally falls between January 20th and February 20th, depending on (you guessed it!) the cycle of moon. This holiday is referred to as the Lunar New Year as it marks the first new moon of the lunisolar calendar. An article in the New York Times discusses the difference between the Solar and Lunar year by adding:

A solar year –– the time it takes Earth to orbit the sun –– lasts around 365 days, while a lunar year, or 12 full cycles of the Moon, is roughly 354 . . . To correct for seasonal drift, the Chinese, Hindu, Jewish and many other calendars are lunisolar. In these calendars, a month is still defined by the moon, but an extra month is added periodically to stay close to the solar year.

Steph Yin

In China, many families kick off the holiday season of Lunar New Years’ Eve with a familial reunion dinner. Many traditional dishes are specific to the Lunar New Year and can be seen below. The end of Lunar New Years’ Eve typically concludes with the Lantern Festival –– also showcased below. The main themes of the celebration are fortune, happiness, and health.

One common misconception regarding the Lunar New Year is that it is only observed in Chinese culture. Many different cultures and countries celebrate the New Year such as South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, and Tibet. The popularity of the term “Chinese New Year” came from the many Chinese-Americans in the United States. Although in China and other countries, the holiday is referred to as simply the “New Year,” Chinese-Americans all over the United States collectively coined the term “Chinese New Year.”

Typical celebrations of the Lunar New Year include many fireworks, the Dragon Dance, the distribution of red envelopes, and other festive activities. The red envelopes are traditionally given from parents to children or to anyone who is single/unmarried. The tradition became popularized through an older version of the custom in which coins were distributed as gifts to ward off evil spirits. People often participate in this activity by wishing people “Gong Xi Fa Cái” which directly translate to “make money in the New Year.” Firecrackers, similar to the customs of the coins, are used to ward off an ancient monster called Nian. Although participants are equally satisfied with confetti poppers. Finally, the Dragon Dance is a key feature to the New Year. In addition to the most commonly known Dragon Dance, participants all over the world have their own traditional dances such as the Lion Dance, Phoenix Dance, and the Fan Dance.

The Lunar New Year is a 15 day-long celebration full of fun activities and events. The 2021 Lunar New Year will start the year of the Ox! We wish all of our MMC community a happy Lunar New Year. Reach out to us on Instagram and share the ways you and your loved ones celebrate. Lastly, as always, a friendly reminder to be kind, stay safe, and Xin Nian Kuai Le!!

More info on the Lunar New Year:

Welcome back to the 255! Fresh winter snow outside, a mug of piping hot chocolate in your hand, and the warmth of a blanket or two; what could possibly be more romantic? February is often viewed as “a month of romance” all centered around the internationally celebrated Valentine’s Day. Each year couples all around the globe attempt to muster together a series of activities that honor their romance and love for each other. But why? In reality, who is this notorious St. Valentine that we all learned about in elementary school? How has Valentine’s day changed throughout history? And why is the holiday centered about romance and love? Yupp, you guessed it. This post highlights the history of Valentine’s Day in our efforts to debunk some common misconceptions and share with you the reality behind this annual holiday.

The tradition of Valentine’s Day dates back to its predecessor, Lupercalia. Lupercalia is a Pagan festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman God of Agriculture. This holiday took place in the ides of February to celebrate the changing of the seasons. Often through sacrificing livestock, participants of Lupercalia would honor the Roman God, Faunus, and wish for fertility in the upcoming harvest. In the Middle Ages, the Christian Church deemed the celebration of Lupercalia unholy and barbaric. As a result, the holiday was “christianized” and the theme of love and romance replaced its traditional roots. Many Europeans believed February to be the start bird mating season and thus justified the new thematic holiday. Finally, religious authorities named the celebration after Saint Valentine which popularized the official title “Valentine’s Day.” The first recorded work mentioning the holiday was Geoffrey Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls.

But who was Saint Valentine? Although the historical figure, St. Valentine, is commonly mentioned in a single telling of a medieval romantic, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. The Church recognizes three different Saint Valentines. The first defied King Claudius II’s law prohibiting the marriage of men in the military by secretly holding ceremonies for young couples wishing to be wed. When Claudius discovered Valentine’s secret endeavors, he was immediately sentenced to death. The second St. Valentine was a bishop in Europe, living in the same time period as Claudius II. He too was eventually sentenced to death and beheaded. Finally, the last recognized Valentine assisted Christians escaping Roman prisons. He was said to have fallen in love with the daughter of one of the prison guards. Unshockingly, this Valentine, too, was sentenced to death. Before he died, he wrote a letter to his young love in which he famously signed From your Valentine at the end. Whether or not any of these stories are true, the character of St. Valentine quickly became a reflection of heroism and romance in defiance of power figures.

Through historic poetry and literature, the connection between romance and Valentine’s Day solidified. The earliest recognition of Valentine’s Day as an annual celebration of love is in the Charter of the Court of Love by Charles VI of France in 1400. Since then, references to Valentine’s Day became common in poetry and literature. A reference even made it into Shakespeare’s Hamlet in which he writes:

“To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day, All in the morning betime, And I a maid at your window, To be your Valentine. Then up he rose, and donn’d his clothes, And dupp’d the chamber-door; Let in the maid, that out a maid Never departed more.”

Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 5, William Shakespeare

And through the expansion of Western thought through colonialism and capitalism, the holiday has become internationally recognized as an annual celebration of love and romance. In honor the holiday this year, we wanted to share with you one of our favorite love poems.

“i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)” – E.E. Cummings

No matter how you celebrate Valentine’s Day, all of us here at the 255 wish you and your loved ones the best. We hope you enjoyed this post and walk away with a greater understanding of the history and reality behind Valentine’s Day. Instead of focusing on the stereotypical notions of romantic relationships and gift giving, we encourage you to self reflect on your definition of love and joy and celebrate accordingly. Lastly, as always, a gentle reminder to be kind, stay safe, and constantly give love and joy both to yourself and others.

Welcome back to the 255! We hope that all of our students are settling into the new semester. We are excited to kick off the Spring term with many interesting events hosted by the PHR/IS department. Be sure to check out our Instagram page to keep up with the goings-on of our Division. This week, in honor of Black history month, we wanted to highlight the incredible playwright, August Wilson. Wilson’s Century Cycle (a.k.a. the Pittsburg Cycle) tells the stories of African American experience throughout each decade of the 20th Century. We will also showcase the adaptation of his plays into films, headed by actor Denzel Washington. Let’s jump right in!

August Wilson was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1945. Wilson excelled as a student throughout his elementary and secondary education. After being accused of plagiarism in the 10th grade, Wilson dropped out of school and entered the workforce. Later in his life, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh honored him with the award of an “honorary high school diploma” based on his extensive presence at the facility. Wilson’s literary interests focused on black writers and history, highlighting the work of Ralph Ellison, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, and Arna Bontemps, among others. Wilson’s early writing career focused on poetry as he submitted entries to local newspapers and magazines and performed at bars and restaurants. He went on to co-found the Black Horizon Theater in 1968. His first works were performed at this theater, often times produced and directed by Wilson himself. Throughout most of the 80s, Wilson produced many of his famous plays such as Jitney, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Fences. Wilson’s work demonstrates the African American experience throughout the 20th century and focused on the examination of the human condition. Other themes in his works included questions of systematic racism, race relations, identity, migration, and discrimination.

As noted above, Wilson’s Century Cycle is composed of ten major plays that detail the African American experience in the 20th Century. All but one of the Century Cycle plays are set in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, PA, an area that was historically consisted of black neighborhoods. Below is a list provided by the August Wilson Theatre Company as well as the corresponding decade in which the plays take place.

  • Gem of the Ocean – 1900s
  • Joe Turner’s Come and Gone – 1910s
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom – 1920s
  • The Piano Lesson – 1930s
  • Seven Guitars – 1940s
  • Fences – 1950s
  • Two Trains Running – 1960s
  • Jitney – 1970s
  • King Hedley II – 1980s
  • Radio Golf – 1990s

Not only did Wilson’s work focus on the experience of African Americans throughout U.S. history, but his storytelling abilities famously deter from Western, Euro-centric traditions. Upon his death in 2005 two of his plays, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Fences have been adapted to the big screen, expanding Wilson’s work beyond the Broadway stage. Actor/producer, Denzel Washington, has taken on the project of turning all Wilson’s Century Cycle plays into movie titles. In an interview with CBS News, Washington expressed his interest in continuing telling these stories by saying

This is perfect, you know? It’s not hard. It’s a joy, it’s an opportunity, it’s a privilege, really, to shepherd [this] material. You know, no pressure. The pressure’s not on me. The pressure is on the filmmakers.

– Denzel Washington, December 11, 2020

The Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning August Wilson has produced many iconic onstage performances starring actors like James Earl Jones, Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Angela Bassett, Laurence Fishburne, and Samuel L Jackson. Viola Davis portrays the titular character Ma, in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which debuted on Netflix in late December 2020. In an interview, Davis expressed her gratitude and admiration for the work of August Wilson, by saying

I think he captures our humor as Black people. He captures our humor, our vulnerabilities, our tragedies, our trauma. And he humanizes us. And he allows us to talk.

Viola Davis, December 11, 2020

With the much needed, ongoing conversations about racism’s mark in U.S. society, the crucial impact of Wilson’s work to the arts and media is apparent. We encourage all of you to read and watch Wilson’s work. We look forward to seeing more movies in the Century Cycle Project released in the near future. Be sure to check out Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Fences on streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max. Reach out to us on Insta and let us know your thoughts and takeaways. Lastly, we want to remind our readers to be kind, stay safe, and read books by Black authors!

Good Morning, Griffins. WELCOME BACK to the 255! We hope that you all had a wonderful January break. We are excited to see all of you back in the virtual classroom, as well as those embarking on in person classes! We also wanted to promote some of the upcoming events of our Division and fill you in on how you can get involved!

Firstly, we want to highlight the amazing student led organizations offered within our division. Each of these clubs are amazing ways to actively participate in the MMC community and know about our college’s current events. The Social Sciences’ Assembly and Bedford Hills Club are two student led organizations that actively advocate for student led discussions and events around social justice and activism. These clubs partner closely with the Politics & Human Rights and International Studies departments to host amazing guest speakers and events. Be sure to check out both of their Instagram pages to stay updated on some awesome events. @socscimmc & @bedfordhills_mmc.

Secondly, speaking of the social sciences, the PHR/IS departments are hosting the Soujourner Truth Suffrage Academy this semester. The academy is a combination of content both in and out of the classroom to honor the centennial celebration of the Women’s Suffrage in the United States. Another goal of the program is to decolonize the discussions of feminism and look beyond traditional Western, Eurocentric stories of the feminist movement. To read more about the Suffrage Academy check out our previous post on the 255 [here]. This first week of classes is a great time to add and drop courses, if need be. Check out the Suffrage Academy’s list of courses to see if any of them fulfill your AIPs. Finally, follow us on Instagram @humsoc_mmc to stay up to date on the PHR/IS event series.

Also, to highlight our wonderful English and World Literature’s department, we would like to inform you of their upcoming semesters events. Although their Spring 2021 calendar is not currently published, the EWL department never fails to engage students through interactive seminars and discussions around reading world literature and creative writing. These events are often time great opportunities to learn more about the specific areas of expertise of the EWL Faculty, and showcase student work. Our Instagram page, @ewlmmc, will post alerts regarding more information about these programs as the semester progresses.

Finally, we wanted to send you all a reminder to care of yourself this upcoming semester. As we are sure you are aware, these are unprecedented times. Now more than ever it is crucial to keep a continued dialogue between your mind and body. Self-care is SOOO important. Your academic success is important to us, yes. But health and well being should always be our top priority, even and especially in the chaos. Take care of yourselves, and each other!

We look forward to bringing you new segments of #FacultyFeatures, #StudentSpotlights, and a new blog series to be released soon entitled #AcademiaIRL. We are incredibly excited about the ongoing activities of our Division and are eager to share these events, posts, and spotlights with you each week. Again, we’re sending a WARM welcome back, especially during a snow storm, and wish you all the best in the upcoming Spring semester. As always, we would like to remind everyone to be kind, stay safe, and enjoy your first week back at MMC!

Hello Griffins! Welcome back to the 255! We send our warmest regards to all students, faculty and staff, and hope for safe travels to all who are preparing for the start of the new semester. Needless to say a lot has gone down since our last update. Besides the general chaos of the holiday season, we witnessed an attack on U.S. democracy, a historic second impeachment of a U.S. President, and most recently, a transfer of political power as the Biden Administration assumes its place in the seat of government. The Inauguration Ceremony delivered many breathtaking moments, including performances by Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez, plus more than a few phenomenal fashion statements (jewel tones! mittens!) It also featured multiple historic triumphs for our country. We wanted to share our most inspiring moments, specifically addressing the swearing in of Kamala Harris and the stunning poetic performance of Amanda Gorman.

On January 20th, 2021 Kamala Harris shattered the glass ceiling as she became the first African American and Asian American Woman to be the Vice President of the United States. The daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, Vice President Harris was born and raised in California. After attending the HBCU Howard University, Harris went on to law school at the University of California and started her legal career soon after her graduation. Since then, Vice President Harris served as the Attorney General of California from 2011-2017 and then as a Senator of California from 2017-2021. Both of these accomplishments made Harris the first African American Woman to hold either of these positions. Regardless of your political opinion, Vice President Harris has made history by demonstrating the ability of women of color to rise to one of the most powerful positions in the country. Harris will be remembered and judged as the first, but her accomplishment reveals a promising future for the nation as we inch closer to a more representative government that is by the people, and reflects the truth of our citizens.

Amanda Gorman left the nation inspired and in awe after her recitation of “The Hill We Climb.” Gorman also shattered a glass ceiling, as she is now the youngest poet to perform at an Inauguration Ceremony. Gorman attended Harvard University and is nationally recognized as a poet and activist. In 2017 Gorman was the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate. Much of her work focuses on feminism, race, oppression, and the African diaspora. Some of her previous work can be found in her published book The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough. Using her platform in front of the nation yesterday, Gorman reminded the country of the struggles it continues to face with poise and eloquence. Her speech was markedly different than traditional patriotic messages delivered in past inaugurations. Gorman’s poem paints the United States as a country who is bruised by the mistakes of its past, but delivers hope despite all we’ve been through by adding that “The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.” Gorman beautifully demonstrated the power of words to all girls throughout the nation, reminding us all of why poetry and art and so vital to our national soul.

Watch out, everyone, there is glass on the floor! Vice President Harris and Amanda Gorman have shattered boundaries and set new precedents. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that these two women provided our most inspiring moments of the Inauguration Ceremony. Women of color all around this country are the reason why the Biden Administration won the election. The work of black women in political and community organizing delivered Biden’s victory in key states like Pennsylvania, Nevada and especially Georgia. But let this not be a single moment in U.S. history, but rather the beginning of a new era where the faces we see in DC reflect the truth of our communities across the country. Let this moment be a step forward for the United States as we start to resemble the diverse “melting pot” we have also claimed to be. We hope you enjoyed this entry on the 255. Once again, we would like to wish our students the best as winter break comes to an end. And as always, a friendly reminder to be kind, stay safe, and take a moment to absorb the history that is being made in front of our very eyes.

History Has Its Eyes On You GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

Welcome back to the 255! In this final week of the semester, we would like to wish all of our students the best of luck getting through their finals, projects, and exams. In celebration of the Winter Break, we are highlighting all of the wonderful holidays that make up this season. No matter what you’re celebrating this season, on behalf of the HUMSOC Division, we send you our best and warmest wishes!!

December 6 is Saint Nicholas Day. Historically, Saint Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, in what is now Turkey, in the fourth century, and he had a reputation as a giver of gifts and a defender of children. In time Christians in Europe and further East developed the tradition of leaving their shoes by the chimney in hopes that Saint Nicholas would leave them gifts. In the United States this tradition has not been widely celebrated, and Saint Nicholas, more commonly known as Santa Claus, has become more associated with Christmas than his own Feast Day. This holiday is observed by Christians in the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican communions. 

December 10 through December 18 mark Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday. Hanukkah is an 8-day celebration in remembrance of the Maccabean revolt, in which Jewish rebels, let by Judah Maccabee, liberated Jerusalem from the Seleucid dynasty. When the war was won, there was only one small container of consecrated oil with which to purify the temple in accordance with Jewish Law. This oil miraculously lasted eight days, leading to the celebration we have today. Hanukkah is typically observed with friends and family in the home, and involves games and gift giving.  Hanukkah dishes typically consist of sufganiyot, latkes, apple friters, and kugel!

December 12 is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a feast of particular importance in Latin American Catholic churches. Our Lady of Guadalupe is another title for the Virgin Mary, who in 1910 was made the Patron Saint of Latin America. According to tradition, Mary appeared to Juan Diego, a poor Aztec Christian, outside of Mexico City on his way to mass. Mary told Juan Diego to tell the Bishop of Mexico City to build a church on the hill on which they were meeting. The Bishop was skeptical, and required a sign, which Mary provided when she made the hill bloom with roses in the middle of winter. The church that was built on that hill is now one of the most visited holy sites in the world, and pilgrimages to it feature prominently in celebrations of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.   

December 21 is the Winter Solstice, also known as Yule. The Winter Solstice is celebrated in a variety of ways across cultures, but commonly involves feasting. Yule, which is the Germanic manifestation of Winter solstice, has been revived as part of the neopagan and wiccan traditions. While observations vary, neopagans typically commemorate Yule with feasting and gift giving. Wiccans celebrate Yule as the rebirth of the Great Horned Hunter god, and commemorate with their covens and/or families. Yule is also the origin of some of our favorite Christmas traditions, such as the Yule log or the Yule ham.  

December 25 is Christmas. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, who in Christianity is the Son of God and the Messiah. Christmas is marked by the decoration of trees, gift giving, and general togetherness, and is celebrated across Christian denominations as well as by those who recognize no religious affiliation at all. 

December 26 is the first day of Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Maulana Karenga, who got the name from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning “first fruits of the harvest.” The holiday has its roots in the Black Nationalist movement of the 1960s, and was meant to provide African Americans with a way to reconnect with African cultural and historical heritage by study of the Nguzo saba, the seven principles of African heritage. The seven principles are Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith. Each of the seven days of Kwanzaa are dedicated to celebrating one of these principles. 

And, finally, December 31 is New Year’s Eve. This is the last day of 2020 in the Gregorian calendar,  and begins the countdown to 2021. 

Again, we would to wish all of our students the happiest of holidays! As you work through this semester’s final stretch remember to stay hydrated and take breaks. As we depart for Winter break we wish you rest and merriment, along with a reminder to be kind and stay safe. We look forward to seeing all of you in the new year and new semester!!

Welcome back to the 255! Again, we would like to wish all MMC students our best wishes in these final weeks of the Fall semester. During this is a stressful time please be sure to take a few moments to care for yourselves. This week we continue our #InClassToday segment. This post highlights the work of Grace Delsohn and Zachary Chamberlain in Professor Jessica Blatt’s Reform and Revolution in Radical New York York City course. Blatt uses a “Reacting to the Past” pedagogy to educate her students on societal structures and relationships. We took to time to interview Grace and Zach to discuss and showcase their work to the entire division. Photos throughout this post were created by Grace and Zach!

Professor Blatt uses “Reacting to the Past” pedagogy in many of her courses, including courses like Playing Politics and America’s Founding that immerse students in critical historical time periods. Below is a description of Blatt’s current Reform and Revolution course:

What is the meaning of citizenship, and who should exercise it? What is economic justice, and how might it be achieved? What sorts of family and sexual relationships nurture and unleash human potential? This course explores how a diverse group of New York intellectuals engaged with such questions in the early twentieth century. These figures confronted a changing world: small-town America faced great cities and hitherto unimaginable contrasts of wealth and poverty. Ideas about American culture were challenged by an influx of immigrants and the claims of women and African-Americans to equal citizenship. Stable social roles were undermined by a new fascination with the Self, a unique identity that had to be discovered, nourished—even created. This course uses a game-based format called “Reacting to the Past” to immerse students in the ideological, artistic, and sociopolitical context in which these challenges played out.

Below are Zach and Grace’s reflections of their work as well as some content the students created throughout the course:

  1. How do you find participating in the interactive pedagogy of Professor Blatt’s course?

Participating in this class has been a lot of fun and a highlight of my week. It makes zoom class more engaging. It forces you to pay attention because the stakes are high at this moment in history, and everyone gets in to it. Everyone usually says or presents interesting and fun things. We have costumes and props. We present creative work, play games, debate, and discuss. 

Grace Delsohn

I took a game class with Professor Blatt last semester which is what led me to taking this one this year. To talk about the pedagogy and structure of this class tells its own story for my wanting and willingness to take another game class with her. With the zoom format, it is obvious that it is changed from the in person style. Luckily for us, the class becomes more interactive with one another, since the chat function in Zoom grants us the ability to ask questions during speeches, have relevant conversations with one another, as well as giving a platform for those that do not like to speak up as much a better chance at participating. I enjoy the pedagogy of Professor Blatt’s teaching, as well as the class itself as it works really well with the online format. 

Zachary Chamberlain
Cubist Painting – Grace Delsohn

2. How does this educational approach differ from a traditional lecture course?

It differs in the sense that it is more interactive and more personal. We all have personal goals and assignments, and it makes things be a bit competitive too. I know so much about this time period and it is rooted in my brain like stories I have been told, or things I have lived through. Other lectures, I tend to forget material after the test or paper is due, but this is not about memorizing. It is about learning, applying, and then fighting for your goal.

Grace Delsohn

This is not your typical, run of the mill college course. Most classes are spent with us having conversations, better worded, critiques with one another as opposed to the traditional lectures that are in many other classes. What I take away from this class in particular is that history is living within us. We the students take on roles that are based on historical figures, giving us the ability to see a time period from an individualistic perspective as opposed to studying it in an overview which I know is not very fun. When looking at other PS classes that I have taken besides the theoretical classes, I learn much more with the interactive structure rather than reading and lecturing.

Zachary Chamberlain
Zachary Chamberlain’s Presentation on the Suffragette Cook Book (here)

3. What are your highlights and takeaways from the class?

My favorite parts of this course were the movies we watched in preparation for the game, it made me feel very connected to the world and able to visualize events. I also loved the “heckling game”, where we heckled the labor faction like people did when they were in the streets. Mainly, I am taking away how to gain support for a movement, how to organize, what worked and what did not in history, and how to work with people to achieve radical change. These are all crucial with the current social justice movements in 2020, and now I feel more prepared and confident to get involved.

Grace Delsohn

So far, the highlights and takeaways from this class are that it gets people more comfortable with public speaking. After taking this class, as well as the game class last semester, I was always nervous giving presentations and thinking that I would fail. I still do get nervous, but after these I trust in myself as a speaker and presenter more. My confidence has been boosted as well as my physical ability to do so. I also have enjoyed learning about 1910’s America. I did not know that there were so many Progressive thoughts going around and it really changed my perspective of the country, specifically in New York, where women’s rights were becoming more and more important as well as labor rights for the country. 

Zachary Chamberlain
Watch and listen to Zach’s musical recreation here!

We would like to thank Zach and Grace for sharing their thoughts on the course as well as allowing us to showcase their work. We are happy to hear your positive reflections and takeaways. Congratulations to Professor Blatt for engaging students in such innovative ways. Finally we would like to gently remind everyone to be kind, stay safe, and always look for new ways to learn!

Welcome back to the 255! As we quickly approach the end of the semester, we would like to remind our students to take time for themselves to get through the challenging and stressful final stretch of the Fall term. This week would we are highlighting a college wide program launching in Spring 2021. 2020 marks the centennial of the ratification of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In commemoration and honor of the women whose work led to the amendment’s ratification and those who continue to struggle for its decolonization, the Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Departments are collaborating with departments across the college to create the “Sojourner Truth Suffrage Academy”!

The Suffrage Academy is an interdisciplinary curriculum across all of MMC’s Divisions such as Art, Dance, Business, Communications, and History. All Divisions are hosting courses for the Suffrage Academy that directly or indirectly discuss the history of suffrage. In recognition of the contested history of suffrage, the program is dedicated to Sojourner Truth, an abolitionist and women’s rights activist, who embodied both that passionate dedication to the cause and that critical spirit that seeks to make it deeper and more just. In order to further promote the program, we reached out to one of its primary coordinators, Erin O’Connor, to learn more about the Suffrage Academy and how students can participate.

  1. What is suffrage and why does it warrant this type of ongoing interdisciplinary scholarship?

Suffrage is the right to vote, straightforwardly. In terms of how it warrants ongoing academy inquiry, I believe it does because the sphere that we enfranchise as the rights to vote is in need of ever expanding. The inclusion can never be exhausted. The inquiry into suffrage stands today in that regard. Specifically, I think of the recent scholarships of the intersection of racial justice and climate. For example, I am teaching a class on Trans-Species Suffrage that is an inquiry into multi-species democracy. What would it look like if a tree had the right to vote? How does that sit in relation to the contested history of suffrage?

2. What is the Sojourner Truth’s Suffrage Academy?

The Suffrage Academy is an interdisciplinary initiative to bring multiple perspectives of the ongoing history of suffrage. That includes courses from across the college in arts, business, communications, international studies, politics and human rights, dance, other fields. I have solicited faculty and asked division chairs to recommend faculty whose courses might be relevant to the issue of voting rights. For example, COMM 363 Black Female Sexuality in Film with Professor Cyrille Phipps, she is not going to do a normative inquiry into suffrage but rather taking a few weeks to look at how do representations of black women in film inform or have they informed suffrage debates. Do they inform how people think of black women’s’ voting rights? Similarly, other examples are Erin Greenwell’s course Video Field Production and Elisabeth Motley’s course Dance Composition II. Both of these courses are very hands on and look at technique and how can we use technique to speak to the topic of suffrage and critique the history of suffrage. There are 15 classes in the Academy. Some of them are immersive and discuss suffrage throughout the entirety of the course and others are labeled connection courses that discus suffrage in an assignment or a few weeks throughout the semester. On the one hand the Suffrage Academy is the interdisciplinary curriculum itself. On the other hand, these courses will be placeholders for our speaker series. The Suffrage Academy is not actually made up but what was already existing in our speaker series. It just needed a name. All of these professors are already talking about social justice and women’s rights in their courses, so it was just natural for us to come together and give it a name. This history is so contested. This program is not seeking a normative dialogue around women’s rights but rather is going to allow us all to learn and grow together.

3. What led to the creation of this intiative across the departments?

Of course, 2020 is the centennial for the ratification of the 19th Amendment. When we were talking about our event series in the fall, it came to light that there was a theme of social justice. We did not seek out this theme but rather it emerged. And for the Spring, Professor Manolo received an email from the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard who had curated this 19th Amendment visual archive of the Suffrage Movement. And that little blimp was the impetus for us. It made so much sense – conversations about race and sex coming together. We were already discussing these themes in our classes. So it came up on the heels of the Fall event speaker series and the centennial for women’s suffrage. I think finally a crucial part is the hope to create a space in which difficult contested histories can be unearthed, rearranged, and be put forth anew. I always say the work of decolonization is a life time. We have to decolonize suffrage and decolonize our education around what suffrage looks like.

4. What are some of the courses being offered outside of Politics & Human Rights and International Studies?

In the History Department, we have Lauren Brown teaching a history course entitled American Women’s History and another entitled Monumental Debates. We also have a special faculty member, Ricardo Bracho, teaching Participation in Liberation: Women of Color and Citizenship. In the Business Division we have Professor Lorraine Martinez-Novoa teaching The Social Psychology of Dress. When speaking with her, she found it interesting that how fashion changes in line with these changing perceptions of liberation and freedom. In the Communications Division, there are courses such as Erin Greenwell’s Video Film Production, Sarah Nelson Wright’s Creating the City, Tatiana Serain’s Reporting Gender, and Cyrille Phipps’ Black Female Sexuality in Film. In the Dance Division we have Catherine Cabeen teaching Ethics, Aesthetics, and Gender Representation in the Performing Arts, and Elisabeth Motley’s Dance Composition Course.

5. Are there any courses for students looking for AIP courses? And do you have any favorites that stand out?

The Suffrage Academy is full of AIP courses. We have Reform and Revolution with Professor Jessica Blatt who teaches with a Reacting to the Past Pedagogy that is a EP and UP course. We have many REP courses, Participation and Liberation, Black Female Sexuality in Film, and Professor Brady’s Social Movements course are all REPs. In terms of EPs, there is my Trans-Suffrage course. Professor Nossiff is teaching Politics of Abortion which is a UP course. For anyone looking for AIP courses, the Suffrage Academy has a variety of selections.

We would like to thank Professor O’Connor for answering our questions about the Suffrage Academy. We highly encourage students to take the opportunity to participate in these courses and event series. For students who are interested in the program you can contact Professor O’Connor at eoconnor1@mmm.edu. We look forward to these crucial dialogues around the contested history of women’s suffrage and MMC’s efforts to decolonize it. Lastly, we would like to thank you all for joining us this week. As always, a gentle reminder to be kind, stay safe, and get ready for the holiday season.

Welcome back to the 255! We would like to wish all of our students a happy Thanksgiving break. This week, we wanted to highlight the reality of the evolution of the holiday commonly known as Thanksgiving. A principle of our Division is to think critically and analytically about the ways in which we perceive things. It is our hope that after reading this post, you too will look at the celebration of Thanksgiving through a new and interesting historical lens! To learn more about the scholarship regarding Thanksgiving, we reached out to MMC’s Librarian, Mary Brown, who specializes in historical archives.

True or nah?

Thanksgiving scholarship is a rich topic. The concept of thanksgiving and the cultural artifact of sharing a meal are both so widespread that one branch of Thanksgiving scholarship is devoted to finding Thanksgivings that took place before the one that became famous, at Plymouth Plantation in 1621.1For some scholars, the first Thanksgiving doesn’t matter so much as how Americans have reshaped the holiday to suit their purposes; The American Presidency Project has a blog surveying presidential Thanksgiving proclamations from George Washington to Donald Trump, which together have reinforced an image of Thanksgiving as a celebration of peace and prosperity.2 Those who do focus on Plymouth in 1621 have scant primary sources on which to rely: William Bradford’s History of Plymouth Planation and Edward Winslow’s Mourt’s Relations: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, 1622.3 . . . No Wampanoags left a written record.

Mary Brown, MMC Librarian, Archivist, and Bibliographer

George Washington University professor David J. Silverman has tried to reconstruct the Wampanoags’ participation in that first Thanksgiving in This Land Was Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Planation, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving.4 . . . The English had demonstrated they were dangerous, appropriating stores of corn the Wampanoags had buried for themselves. And their small numbers did not make them look like powerful allies. On the other hand, their weakness meant they share Ousamequin’s interest in an alliance, and what they lacked in numbers they made up for in new military technology. Plus, given the division of opinion among the Wampanoag, it was important that Ousamequin exercise his role as leader. Accordingly, Ousamequin reached out to the Pilgrims, bringing his men to display his military capability as both tribute an a show of generosity.

Mary Brown, MMC Librarian, Archivist, and Bibliographer

The Pilgrims knew they were a minority faith in their own land and one of many European groups scrabbling to establish themselves on the western Atlantic coast, and they could not afford to ignore Ousamequin’s offer. Their first winter had halved their numbers; the day the Pilgrims hosted Ousamequin and his ninety men there were fewer than fifty Pilgrims—men, women, and children. The first Thanksgiving may have set a precedent for many future ones in that it may not have been a stress-free gathering, but more like an opportunity for Wampanoags and Pilgrims to size each other up.

Mary Brown, MMC Librarian, Archivist, and Bibliographer

Plymouth’s long-time governor William Bradford died in 1657, and Ousamequin between 1660 and 1662, the new leadership was not like the old, and it faced a new pressure: Puritans, a different group of English Protestants, were arriving en masse in what they called “New England.” Ousamequin’s son and successor, Wamsutta, alienated the Pilgrims by reaching out to this larger and more powerful group, and the Pilgrims turned on him . . . The history of the first Thanksgiving then became two histories. White Americans created a national memory of settlers peacefully enjoying the bounty of the land with “neighbors”. Wampanoag historians mourned the Pilgrims’ arrival as the start of the loss of everything dear to them.5

Mary Brown, MMC Librarian, Archivist, and Bibliographer

Wampanoag historians rightly point to the great losses that can’t be restored, and to the need to work out a new equity for historically marginalized indigenous people in what’s become the United States. But a first step might be to work our way back in history to a first Thanksgiving when two very different groups of people met each other with respect, however wary, for what each brought to their table and started a working relationship that, however short a period of time it seems for us, was forty years for them.

Mary Brown, MMC Librarian, Archivist, and Bibliographer

A special thanks to Mary Brown for enlightening us with this insight into the scholarship of Thanksgiving. Although the holiday’s history is quite controversial, it has become something central to the United States’ culture. In discussions with students, we inquired how they engage with Thanksgiving. The diversity in response reflects the wide variety of ideas, cultures, and traditions that lie within our school community. Some students stick to a pretty traditional U.S. Thanksgiving celebration, citing classic standbys like mashed potatoes, Mac and cheese, and cranberry sauce. Many students celebrate with food, gifts and music that reflect their family’s ethnic and/or immigrant heritage, and some students don’t celebrate the holiday in any form for cultural or religious reasons. We had some parade enthusiasts, but almost everyone is most excited to get some rest! These conversations highlight how MMC students embody the diversity that is a pillar of our community. Regardless of how you relate to the holiday, we wish everyone a wonderful break and look forward to seeing you all return for fall semester’s Final Stretch. As always, a gentle reminder to be kind, stay safe, and treat yourself to some rest and relaxation during your time off.