CJI's Illusion of Progress Features at Workshop for K-12 Teachers with the Southern Poverty Law Center

"When he sent the word out in the fall about the daylong Saturday workshop, “Resources for Teaching the History of Race in the United States,” the response was bigger than for any other program, he said. Usually 30 to 40 teachers from Virginia will show up for a particular topic, but this time nearly 200 expressed interest. Ultimately, 100 teachers from more than 40 school divisions attended the March 17 program in UVA’s Zehmer Hall, where the center is located. Several teachers even made the trip from Washington, D.C., Maryland and North Carolina.

The center’s program coordinator, Becky Yancey; associate director Natsuko Rohde; and the Zehmer Hall staff flawlessly managed the sudden surge, Luftig said, adding, “This might be the most productive event the Center for the Liberal Arts has run in my 18 years of directing the center,” he said.

Luftig reached out to two partners the center has worked with before: UVA’s Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project, to see what resources they might present to the teachers.

The free program introduced teachers to the Teaching Tolerance project’s “Framework for Teaching American Slavery,” an education guide that includes primary-source texts and images, teaching models, podcasts, a list of key concepts and summary of objectives; as well as the Woodson Institute’s website, “The Illusion of Progress: Charlottesville’s Roots in White Supremacy,” which explores this history and broadens the focus beyond Charlottesville’s Confederate statues. The Web-based project aims to show how entrenched stereotypes of racial difference enabled socioeconomic injustices to take root, thwarting black people’s claims to personhood, citizenship and basic freedoms."