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Dashboard Analysis of Untold History! December 16, 2016
Untold History on Netflix! December 14, 2016
Great news. At last, Untold History is available on Netflix:
Los Angeles Times: Stone and Kuznick on Hiroshima August 6, 2016
The Los Angeles Times: Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick on why Hiroshima was not necessary to win World War II.
Peter Kuznick’s Hiroshima Lecture on C-SPAN July 18, 2016
In case you missed Peter Kuznick’s lecture the other night on C-SPAN’s American History TV, you can view it here.
Peter Kuznick to appear on C-SPAN, Saturday July 16 July 14, 2016
Peter Kuznick will appear on C-SPAN Saturday evening at 8 pm and midnight EDT. He will argue, as we do in the Untold History documentary series and companion books, that there were others ways to end the war in the Pacific without dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki:
Our bags are packed for Costa Mesa! Looking forward to Peter Kuznick’s and Marjorie Cohn’s Sunday keynote at California Council for the Social Studies annual conference. Kuznick and Cohn will be talking about Vietnam and discussing ways teachers can frame major issues surrounding the war. We will screen Untold History Episode 7, “Johnson, Nixon and Vietnam: Reversal of Fortune,” then host a panel discussion and Q&A. If you won’t be there, you can check it out here.
Untold History Now Available in Brasil July 6, 2015
A widely accepted notion in the United States is that the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to accelerate Japan’s surrender in World War II. The “winning weapons” are believed to have saved hundreds of thousands of American and Japanese lives that would have been lost if the United States had invaded mainland Japan.
But one prominent U.S. scholar says this logic is sheer “mythology.”
By Eric S. Singer, Untold History Principal Researcher
Reprinted from The Nation
In the last year, the killing of black men by police has become visible as an epidemic. Less visible—at least to those baffled by the scenes of mass unrest in the streets of Baltimore—is the impoverishment of black families. With a median net worth of just $6,446, African-American households in 2011 were 10 percent poorer than they were in 1984, according to a Pew Research poll. In contrast, median net worth for a white family in 2014 was $142,000. Today, the average black family has approximately 1/17 the wealth of the average white family.
In Baltimore, this widening economic gap between black and white has been exacerbated by an urban landscape that has physically and socially isolated poor black Baltimoreans from their neighbors. To understand the anger in West Baltimore and the reasons police brutality has not abated, we need to understand this history.
In 1950, Baltimore was the sixth-largest city in the country, with a population of roughly 1 million. At the time, the Sparrows Point Steel Mill was one of the largest employers in the city, with 30,000 employees. It produced over 10,000 tons of steel per day. At the mill’s height of production during World War II, blacks comprised a third of its workforce, a higher percentage than most other mills in the nation. These were relatively stable jobs, particularly after 1941, when African-American votes swung the balance in favor of unionization.
According to historian Linda Zeidman, there was not enough housing for workers near the mill during the 1930s and 1940s. Since the neighborhoods of Dundalk and Highlandtown to the plant’s immediate northwest were segregated, many African-American steelworkers settled 15 miles away in West Baltimore, one of the only neighborhoods where they could buy or rent property. Unionized and generally well-paid steel workers received decent health insurance, sick pay and vacation time between 1945 and 1970.
Then, in the early 1970s, foreign competition for steel resulted in huge job cuts. Three thousand workers lost their jobs in 1971; 7,000 more in 1975. By the late 1980s, the mill employed only 8,000 people. Those astonishing job losses devastated West Baltimore. Overall, Baltimore lost 100,000 manufacturing jobs by 1995, and the city’s population shrunk by 35 percent. Today, the city is the 26th largest by population in the United States.
As the devastation took hold, many Baltimoreans with means migrated across the jurisdictional boundary between Baltimore City and Baltimore County into newly built suburban neighborhoods. Some of those neighborhoods specifically forbade African-Americans, Jews and sometimes Catholics from moving in. Simultaneously in the city, banks used federal Home Owners’ Loan Corporation–produced maps to determine whom they would and would not lend to. Those maps marked red most of what became known as the “inner city.” Citing the risk of lending in neighborhoods characterized by “undesirable racial concentrations,” banks did not issue loans to those living within the red zones. In short, poor blacks became physically and economically trapped in parts of inner East and inner West Baltimore as whites and those with means moved into the county. Free of the city’s tax burden, many county residents paid only peripheral attention to the urban crisis unfolding just miles from their new homes. Not even Mayor William D. Schaefer’s desperate branding of Baltimore as “Charm City” in 1975 could stanch the bleeding.
As manufactured goods production moved out of town and overseas, new Cold War military-industrial aerospace facilities and associated industries built plants far outside Baltimore. As Baltimore’s tax base plummeted, residents in the city’s core became further trapped in a web of dysfunction. Many of those African-Americans had only recently migrated from the South for the very industrial jobs that were being simultaneously eliminated.
The built environment also produced new forms of segregation. Major thoroughfares and highways like Route 40, a sunken road built to interstate specifications that was originally designed to be the eastern terminus of Interstate 70, cuts through West Baltimore like a knife, dividing neighborhoods and creating dangerous zones of desolation. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, a major 6-lane high-speed thoroughfare built in the early 1980s, ironically slices directly through Old West Baltimore, once the city’s most important African-American neighborhood, and physically segregates it from the central business district. To the immediate northwest of MLK Boulevard lies the huge, hulking State Center office complex, which reinforces the divide, making it very difficult for West Baltimore pedestrians to enter downtown. In East Baltimore, the elevated Interstate 83 similarly divides the central business district from troubled neighborhoods further east, physically cutting residents off from City Hall and other vital institutions and creating what Jane Jacobs termed a “border vacuum.”
High-rise public housing projects reinforced the segregation caused by new roads. Constructed in the 1940s and 1950s, the high-rises replaced city blocks that planners had classified as “slums” and surrounded the central business district like a red brick wall. Since early- and mid-20th-century planners looked at the street as a breeding ground for filth and crime, they designed the new public housing structures around courtyards. In the early years, those courtyards were places for socialization. However, by the early 1980s, as jobs evaporated and those with the means migrated away, the courtyards, dark at night, became breeding grounds for drugs and violence. The city demolished most of the structures in the 1990s, but their absence produced more useless and, therefore, dangerous zones of desolation.
As a result of all of this, Baltimore became what urban geographer Mike Davis termed a “fortress city,” one “brutally divided between ‘fortified cells’ of affluent society and ‘places of terror’ where the police battle the criminalized poor.” Looking at a map of West Baltimore, which includes the neighborhoods of Upton, Sandtown-Winchester, Druid Heights and Harlem Park, it becomes easier to understand how many residents interpret the area in which they live as a physically, socially and economically isolated place of terror.
Bordering the Upton neighborhood to the southeast runs Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. To the east runs Interstate 83, which slices directly through the valley of one of Baltimore’s most historically important but profoundly neglected waterways, the Jones Falls. To the north lies the now infamous Mondawmin Mall and Druid Hill Park, which the Susquehannock Natives ceded to Lord Baltimore in the mid-17th century. To the far west lies Leakin Park, one of the most expansive urban wilderness parks in the country. Most of Baltimore’s vital economic, political and educational institutions lie far beyond those boundaries, virtually inaccessible to those who live within them. Living in neighborhoods devastated by an unemployment rate of 37 percent among black males, a black infant mortality rate of 10.3 per 1000 live births (roughly equivalent to rates in Romania, Panama and Mauritius), a black high-school graduation rate of only 64 percent, pervasive lead-paint poisoning, and a shameful lack of fresh food in addition to the legacy of slavery and increasingly acute economic inequality, the rage of black Baltimoreans becomes much easier to understand.
Most of those policing the West Baltimore fortified cell live far away, either in more stable sections of Baltimore City or in parts of Baltimore, Harford, Anne Arundel, Howard, and Carroll Counties. They patrol their territory in squad cars and police vans. Those vehicles, though efficient, separate police from those they are sworn to protect. This has been the case since the 1950s, when police departments across the country began to purchase powerful vehicles to move more swiftly throughout expanding metropolitan areas. If the police live in faraway neighborhoods and are physically, culturally, and economically separated from West Baltimore’s residents, it is no wonder that those residents view police with distrust and suspicion. To those residents, the police represent the only arm of the governing white power structure that they see on a regular basis. It is certainly true that many Baltimore politicians, including the current mayor, are black. However, that has arguably made the situation worse for poor black residents—it exacerbates racial divisions between the city, which is 64 percent black, and the rest of Maryland, which is 70 percent white. It should therefore not be surprising that, given all of these brutal forces, West Baltimoreans would explode in anger and grief when the police snuff out the life of an unarmed young man. In fact, it is surprising that it doesn’t happen more often.
In 1979, in the wake of an earlier explosion of anger in Baltimore, Sun journalist Barbara Koeppel reported that Mayor Schaefer shook his head repeatedly in front of television cameras, muttering, “I don’t know why, I don’t know why.” Koeppel enumerated the structural inequalities that still plague Baltimore and have only worsened 36 years later. West Baltimoreans are sick and tired of lip service, and many white Americans are still asking “why?”
Teaching “Untold” History Summer Institute April 10, 2015
July 10-12, 2015
East Side Middle School
331 E. 91st St.
New York, NY 10128
Please join us for an exciting and invigorating weekend as we explore ways to engage multiple historical perspectives in the classroom. Historians, master teachers and curriculum specialists will lead intimate, interactive weekend-long workshops, out of which will come tangible curriculum designed for teaching some of the most controversial topics in recent history. Director Oliver Stone and Historian Peter Kuznick, co-writers of the Showtime documentary series Untold History of the United States and companion book, are scheduled* to participate. Stone and Kuznick keynoted the 2013 National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) conference in St. Louis, the 2013 conference of the American Library Association, and have spoken at more than 50 other engagements since the release of Untold History in 2012.
The institute’s ultimate goal is to establish methods that empower students to think critically about history and the world around them, so that they may become better informed participants in the democratic process. Though historiographically focused, the workshops will also attempt to critique historiographical approaches to instruction. Ultimately, we will publish our curricular products on the Untold History website, making them available to teachers across the country and around the world.
The institute, which will run from Friday at noon through Sunday at 4 p.m., is open to all middle and high school US History teachers. Topics of concentration will include “Moving Beyond the Textbook,” “Globalizing US History” and “Deconstructing Engrained Narratives.” This experience will be valuable for:
Middle and High School US History Teachers working with Common Core requirements
Middle and High School US History Teachers working in non-Common Core environments
Any teacher interested in developing ways to teach multiple perspectives to diverse groups of students.
There is a $200 fee to attend, which covers the cost of speakers and 2 meals/day. Attendees will also receive:
Continuing education certificates
Copies of Untold History DVD, book and Young Readers’ Edition
Resources produced from the workshop
Networking opportunities with public historians, academics and curriculum specialists
Copies of the Untold History of the United States curriculum guide, designed to accompany each episode of the documentary series
We have reserved a block of rooms at the Courtyard New York Marriott Upper East Side. Rooms with 1 king bed are $195/nt, 2 queen beds $215/nt. It will be possible to share rooms in order to minimize costs. To reserve space, please contact Eric Singer at email@example.com.
Currently Scheduled Workshop Leaders:
Stephen Armstrong, Connecticut Social Studies Consultant
Past President, National Council for the Social Studies
Craig J. Perrier, Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax, VA
High School Social Studies/History Specialist
Adjunct History Professor: Northeastern University
2013 Longview Foundation Grant: Globalizing US History
Robert Sandler, Stuyvesant High School, US History Teacher
2014 Gilder Lehrman New York State History Teacher of the Year
2013 NCSS Outstanding High School Social Studies Teacher of the Year
Other Notable Attendees:
Principal, East Side Middle School
Dr. Peter J. Kuznick, Professor of History, American University
Organization of American Historians (OAH) Distinguished Lecturer
Author, Beyond the Laboratory: Scientists as Political Activists in 1930s America
Co-Author, Rethinking the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Japanese and American Perspectives
Co-Author, The Truth Behind the Peaceful Use of Nuclear Power
Co-Author, The Untold History of the United States
Co-Editor, Rethinking Cold War Culture
Dr. Eric S. Singer, MEd, PhD, Historian
Principal Researcher and Educational Outreach Coordinator: Untold History of the United States
Adapter of Volumes 3 and 4 of The Untold History of the United States: Young Readers’ Edition
Oliver Stone, Director and Three-Time Academy Award Winner*
Co-Author, The Untold History of the United States
Oscar for Best Director, Born on the Fourth of July
Oscar for Best Director, Platoon
Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Midnight Express
For more information on institute content, lodging options or to register, please contact:
Eric Singer, MEd, PhD
Principal Researcher and Educational Outreach Coordinator
Untold History Education Project
*Oliver Stone’s attendance is not guaranteed at this time