Columbus on Trial, Sunday, October 9

by Kris Collett

Rethinking ColumbusWe are super-excited to learn that the New Jersey Teacher Activist Group (NJTAG) is hosting a teach-in this Sunday, Oct. 9, as part of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.  In anticipation of Columbus Day, they are calling it, “Christopher Columbus on Trial,” and they will use Rethinking Schools teaching materials, including The People v. Columbus, et al. and Bill Bigelow’s article, “Discovering Columbus: Re-reading the Past,” both from Rethinking Columbus (20 years in print this year!)

Katie Strom, a former teacher who is now an induction coach with the Newark-Montclair Urban Teaching Residency and co-founder of NJTAG, says “the teach-in presents an opportunity for participants to interrogate the textbook version of the ‘discovery’ of America.”  The agenda will include a discussion of the “genocide perpetuated by Columbus and the 500-year legacy of colonialism and racism that developed in the wake of the Spanish conquest.”

She said the teach-in on Oct. 9, as well as two others coming up on Oct. 16 and Oct. 23, are part of a teacher solidarity movement with Occupy Wall Street.  She is hopeful that these protests will continue to raise awareness of both educational and social issues.

Also helping to organize the Oct. 9 teach-in:

  • Brian Ford, history teacher at Montclair High School, Montclair, NJ, and co-founder of NJTAG
  • Brian Hohmann, history teacher at American History High School in Newark, NJ
  • Ira Shor, author and professor of English at CUNY

Kate promised to send photos after the event, so we’ll post an update next week.

Join in if you can.  It’s going to be a doozy of an event.

One thought on “Columbus on Trial, Sunday, October 9

  1. I teach fifth grade at a private school who gives preference to children of Hawaiian ancestry. As is true of most fifth grade social studies curricula, the focus is American history. I abandoned our textbook two years ago and am working on indigenizing this curriculum.
    One of the things my students and I have discussed is why we continue to celebrate and honor Christopher Columbus when he was a slaver, a liar and a person who killed so many indigenous peoples during his travels.

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