Oddly Aligned

The Sunday Review regularly produces a reliable number of history-related articles. Without trivializing the current importance of the stories, there are some great AP US History and AP World History connections in Isabel Wilkerson and Neil MacFarquar‘s stories this week (note: I could have sworn MacFarquar’s article was in the Sunday Review, but reading it online it does not look like it and substantively does not feel like it.)

Wilkerson strings together the parallels, changes, and continuities, from the murder of Emmett Till, through the Great Migration, to the murder of Tamir Rice. Any time Eric Foner, Wilkerson, and Jacob Lawrence make it into the Grey Lady, I’ll quote it:

It has been a century since the Great Migration that produced both boys began. Our current era seems oddly aligned with that moment. The brutal decades preceding the Great Migration — when a black person was lynched on average every four days — were given a name by the historian Rayford Logan. He called them the Nadir. Today, in the era of the Charleston massacre, when, according to one analysis of F.B.I. statistics, an African-American is killed by a white police officer roughly every three and a half days, has the makings of a second Nadir.

Or perhaps, in the words of Eric Foner, the leading scholar of Reconstruction, a “second Redemption.” That is what historians call the period of backlash against the gains made by newly freedmen that led to Jim Crow.

Oh, and if you have not, you must read Wilkerson’s excellent history of the Great Migration, The Warmth of Other Suns.

Moving around the globe to Russia, the story “Russian Orthodox Church Blocks Funeral for Last of Romanov Remains” tells the bizarre (or maybe expected in Russia these days?) story of the church denying the evidence pointing to the final remains of the Tsar’s family. We spend a lot of time looking at the Russian Revolution and its aftermath in APWH. These details shed pretty unique light on what was going down in the early days of the Civil War.

Early in the morning of July 17, 1918, the czar, his wife, their five children, as well as their doctor, a cook and two servants, were executed in the basement of a house in Yekaterinburg, in central Russia. The firing squad had the most difficulty killing the czar’s four daughters, because the bullets ricocheted off all the hidden diamonds sewn into their clothing.

In a series of steps that took investigators decades to determine, the executioners first dumped the corpses in a mine, named Ganina Yama in Russian, which had long been thought to be the burial place of their ashes.

The bodies of the 11 victims were actually loaded onto a truck for transport to a deeper mine, however. The vehicle got stuck on a muddy road through a bog. To lighten the load, the bodies of Alexei and Maria were removed and carted off into the forest — burned, doused with acid and buried. The Bolsheviks then decided to inter the rest right there in Old Kaptikovskaya Road.

As for using these in class? A few ideas:

  • Have students read the Wilkerson piece and identify changes and continuities over time. Push students to explain Wilkerson’s argument and propose potential counterarguments that she ignores. Also push for students to ask why there are continuities over time.
  • For APWH, I may have students read the selected passage as a Do Now  and just ask them to contextualize and make inferences based on dates and terms. What was going on in Russia in 1918 that caused this event? Identify three terms to connect this passage to the Russian Revolution.

Other thoughts?



This entry was posted in APUSH, APWH, History. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s