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Dear Zinn Education Project friends,
Last year, Zinn Education Project co-director Bill Bigelow wrote a reflection on the 4th of July holiday. It's a time of picnics and fireworks, but it's also a time of remembrance----when lessons are taught about the origins of the United States. What should we teach----and not teach----at this time of year? See below.

Lauren Cooper
for the Zinn Education Project
Fireworks over New York City. Rethinking the 4th of July
by Bill Bigelow  
In Portland, Oregon, where I live, the 4th of July holiday offers an excuse for a wonderful annual blues festival in Waterfront Park downtown. Unfortunately, in my neighborhood, it also provides cover for people to blow off fireworks that terrify young children and animals, and that turn the air thick with smoke and errant projectiles. Last year, the fire department here reported 172 fires sparked by toy missiles, defective firecrackers, and other items of explosive revelry.
But apart from the noise pollution, air pollution, and flying debris pollution, there is something profoundly inappropriate about blowing off fireworks at a time when the United States is waging war with real fireworks around the world. To cite just one example, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London found recently that U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan alone have killed more than 200 people, including at least 60 children. And, of course, the U.S. war in Afghanistan drags on and on. The pretend war of celebratory fireworks thus becomes part of a propaganda campaign that inures us, especially the children among us, to the real wars half a world away.
But the yahoo of fireworks also turns an immensely complicated time in U.S. history into a cartoon of miseducation. For example, check out Ray Raphael's "Re-examining the Revolution" at the Zinn Education Project, an article that every history teacher should read before wading into the events leading up to 1776. Raphael analyzed 22 elementary, middle school, and high school texts and found them filled with inaccuracies, some merely silly, but others that leave students with important misunderstandings about U.S. history, and how social change does and does not happen. Read more
Related resources at the Zinn Education Project website
Re-examining the Revolution
Founding Myths Re-examining the Revolution. Background Reading. By Ray Raphael. Based on his book Founding Myths, Raphael critiques the textbook portrayal of the American Revolution. The textbooks say that "a few special people forged American freedom" which "misrepresents, and even contradicts, the spirit of the American Revolution."

Danny Glover reads Frederick Douglass.Frederick DouglassFrederick Douglass: "The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro" (1851). Film clip. Read by Danny Glover. From Voices of a People's History of the United States. In this famous speech, Douglass says: "What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim." Watch film clip | Read speech.
�  2013 The Zinn Education Project, a collaboration of Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change.   

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.
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