If We Knew Our History - Zinn Education Project New Monthly Column
Presented by the Zinn Education Project
A Collaboration between Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change

Bill Bigelow
It's Columbus Day---- Time to Break the Silence   

By Bill Bigelow

Co-director of the Zinn Education Project and
curriculum editor of Rethinking Schools magazine


Textbook depictions of Columbus are often filled with misinformation and distortion or are justified with references to manifest destiny.

This past January, almost exactly 20 years after its publication, Tucson schools banned the book I co-edited with Bob Peterson, Rethinking Columbus. It was one of a number of books adopted by Tucson's celebrated Mexican American Studies program----a program long targeted by conservative Arizona politicians.  


The school district sought to crush the Mexican American Studies program; our book itself was not the target, it just got caught in the crushing. Nonetheless, Tucson's----and Arizona's----attack on Mexican American Studies and Rethinking Columbus shares a common root: the attempt to silence stories that unsettle today's unequal power arrangements. Read more




"It's Columbus Day---- Time to Break the Silence" is the newest article  

in the Zinn Education Project's column called  

If We Knew Our History posted on GOOD magazine.

You can help us reach a wider audience in three steps:



Read, comment, and share today!

Related resources at the Zinn Education Project website

The People vs. Columbus, et al. Teaching Activity PDF. By Bill Bigelow. 8 pages. Role play in the form of a trial to determine who is responsible for the death of millions of Tainos on the island of Hispaniola in the late 15th century.
Discovering Columbus: Re-reading the Past. Teaching Activity PDF. By Bill Bigelow. 6 pages. How to engage students in a critical analysis of the textbook version of "discovery."
Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years. Teaching Guide. Edited by Bill Bigelow and Bob Peterson. 2003. 192 pages. Readings and lessons for pre-K to 12 about the impact and legacy of the arrival of Columbus in the Americas.
The Line Between Us: Teaching About the Border and Mexican Immigration. Teaching Guide. By Bill Bigelow. 2006. 160 pages. Lessons for teaching about the history of US-Mexico relations and current border and immigration issues.
Precious Knowledge. Film. Directed by Ari Luis Palos and produced by Eren Isabel McGinnis. 2011. 70 minutes. High school seniors become community leaders in Tucson's embattled Ethnic Studies classes while state lawmakers attempt to eliminate the program.

Even the Rain/Tambi�n la lluvia. Film. Directed by Ic�ar Bolla�n and written by Paul Laverty. 2010. 103 minutes. As a crew shoots a film about Columbus' genocide, local people in Cochabamba, Bolivia rise up against plans to privatize the water supply.

Zinn Education Project
The goal of the Zinn Education Project is to introduce students to a more accurate, complex, and engaging understanding of United States history.   www.zinnedproject.org
Like us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter   Donate to the Zinn Education Project