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

Clarence Lusane
Missing from Presidents' Day: The People
They Enslaved
By Clarence Lusane
Program director for Comparative and Regional Studies at American University 
Washington standing among African-American fieldworkers harvesting grain. Image: Library of Congress.
A romanticized image of work at Mt. Vernon. Image: Library of Congress.
Schools across the country are adorned with posters of the 44 U.S. presidents and the years they served in office. U.S. history textbooks describe the accomplishments and challenges of the major presidential administrations----George Washington had the Revolutionary War, Abraham Lincoln the Civil War, Teddy Roosevelt the Spanish-American War, and so on. Children's books put students on a first-name basis with the presidents, engaging readers with stories of their dogs in the Rose Garden or childhood escapades. Washington, D.C.'s Smithsonian Institution welcomes visitors to an exhibit of the first ladies' gowns and White House furnishings.

Nowhere in all this information is there any mention of the fact that more than one in four U.S. presidents were involved in human trafficking and slavery. These presidents bought, sold, and bred enslaved people for profit. Of the 12 presidents who were enslavers, more than half kept people in bondage at the White House. Continue reading

"Missing from Presidents' Day: The People They Enslaved " is the newest article in the  
Zinn Education Project's column If We Knew Our History,
posted on GOOD, Huffington Post, and Common Dreams.
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Related resources at the Zinn Education Project website 
Lesson   'If There Is No Struggle...': Teaching a People's History of the Abolition Movement
Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. In this role play, students become members of the American Anti-Slavery Society, facing many of the real challenges to ending slavery.

Teaching Activity. By Bob Peterson. How a 5th grade teacher and his students conducted research to answer the question: "Which presidents owned people?" Also available in Spanish. 
 Constitution Role Play: Whose "More Perfect Union" and The Constitutional Convention: Who Really Won?
Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. A role play on the issues involved with the framing of the Constitution. An elementary school adaptation also available.
Book: The Black History of the White House
Book - Non-fiction. By Clarence Lusane. 2010.
The untold story of African Americans in the White House from the 18th century to the present, including the presidents who held people in bondage.

More resources for teaching outside the textbook about slavery. 
How Many Black Abolitionists Can You Name?
Every day during Black History Month, the Zinn Education Project is featuring a noted black abolitionist on our Facebook page. We also offer the role play on the people's history of the abolition movement which helps students learn a more accurate and empowering history of the fight to end slavery. View our slideshow.
New from Rethinking Schools 

Second Edition, New and Expanded
Edited by Wayne Au. 2014. 418 pages.
Rethinking Multicultural Education moves beyond a simplistic focus on heroes and holidays to demonstrate a powerful vision of anti-racist, social justice education.
Practical, rich in story, and analytically sharp, Rethinking Multicultural Education reclaims multicultural education as part of a larger struggle for justice and against racism, colonization, and cultural oppression-in schools and society. Read more.

Join Louise Derman-Sparks and the
Green Feather Movement
Donate for buttons and stickers to wear and share on March 1, the 60th anniversary of the Green Feather Movement, in defense of people's history.

Union made stickers and buttons available. Learn more.

�  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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