Teaching American History Grant for McComb, Mississippi



A consortium of seven school districts, led by the McComb, Miss. school district and including Brookhaven, Claiborne, Columbia, Lamar, Marion, and Natchez-Adams districts was awarded a Teaching American History grant in August, 2010. Teaching for Change worked closely with McComb on the application thanks to the support they have received from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to deepen instruction about Civil Rights Movement and labor history in McComb. (Corinth County School District also received a TAH grant in 2010 and Jackson Public Schools received a grant a few years ago.)

The Teaching American History brings in a partnership with George Mason University, the University of Southern Mississippi, and the University of Mississippi at Oxford, to implement a $1 million, 3 year grant from the U.S. Department of Education with the possibility of a 2-year extension. The project, entitled Making Connections: Mississippi History as American History, is designed for teachers of studentts in grades 4, 5, 8, 9, 11 and 12. Making Connections is designed to increase: 1) teachers’ knowledge of traditional American History through the lens of Mississippi History; 2) teachers’ use of primary sources in traditional American history instruction; and 3) student knowledge of and interest in traditional American history.

The content of Making Connections focuses on significant turning points in US history as they reflected, influenced, or contradicted principles of freedom and democracy through examination of the founding documents and themes such as westward expansion; the Civil War and Reconstruction; the Jim Crow era; the labor movement; and the Civil Rights Movement — and the connections with these events and Mississippi history.

The team is headed by lead historian Dr. James Campbell of Stanford University, an award-winning scholar in African American history and American Studies who collaborated to create a website on the Mississippi Freedom Movement, Freedom Now! Additionally, he oversaw the Brown University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice, a three-year effort to research the role of the university in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Dr. Jenice L. View of George Mason University’s Initiatives in Educational Transformation Program is the academic project director, serving to guide the pedagogical growth of participants. Mike Jeanson, a former high school U.S. history teacher in McComb Schools for 18 years, is the project director.

Others named in the proposal include Dr. Charles Payne (University of Chicago), Dr. Susan Glisson (William Winter Institute, University of Mississippi – Oxford), Dr. Curtis Austin (University of Southern Mississippi), Dr. Kelly Schrum and Jeremy Boggs (George Mason University), Dr. David Blight (Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance & Abolition, Yale University), Bill Bigelow (Rethinking Schools), Linda Christensen (Oregon Writing Project), Dr. Louis Kryriakoudes (Center for Oral History, University of Southern Mississippi), and Thomas Thurston (Gilder Lehrman Center, Yale).