On January 27 and 28, 2016, Will Wilson, Park Guide at Vicksburg National Military Park (a unit of the National Park Service) participated in the teachers’ workshop sponsored by Facing History & Ourselves. Here’s what Will had to say:
I was one of two National Park Service personnel in attendance, while most participants were teachers from Memphis and Mississippi. The workshop focused on The Reconstruction Era and the Fragility of Democracy, but more specifically the 1866 Memphis Massacre. This event is little known, much less taught in our schools. This workshop was a means for me to learn more about the event and learn new ways to talk about race in American history.
I found that the staff at Facing History and Ourselves were well prepared and offered wonderful insight into this horrendous event in our nation’s history. The lectures were followed by activities that participants engaged in that allowed us to have a better understanding of how to use these activities to reach an audience. These activities, in particular the Gallery Walk; Graffiti Boards; Word Wall; and Think, Pair, Share – Facilitating Discussions in Small and Large Groups were all beneficial for the development of programs that the National Park Service is looking to incorporate into programs regarding Reconstruction.
As we have now concluded the commemoration of the American Civil War and are now commemorating the 150th anniversary of Reconstruction, all of these activities are great tools for the National Park Service to implement for visitors to have a better understanding of our nation’s past and how it plays a role in today’s society. We hope this is a way that we, as the Park Service, can connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters, and advocates.