Teaching Reconstruction in a New Age of Democratic Crisis

Endorsed by the OAH Graduate Student Committee, OAH Committee on Teaching, and SHGAPE

Thursday, April 13, 2023, 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Type: Roundtable Discussion

Tags: Civil War and Reconstruction; Politics; Teaching and Pedagogy


A critical period for expanding rights and the evolution of American democracy, Reconstruction (1865-77) is also one of the most undertaught eras in American history. Founded on the belief that teaching Reconstruction not only helps students become better educated but also better citizens of a democratic society, this roundtable features a diverse group of Reconstruction-era experts who will share practical advice for high school and college educators. Panelists will discuss appropriate learning objectives, teaching outcomes, and successful approaches while articulating the value and stakes of teaching Reconstruction in the 2020s. Time will be reserved for audience questions and discussion.

Session Participants

Chair: Alexandra E. Stern, City University of New York
Alexandra E. Stern is an ACLS Postdoctoral Fellow and Substitute Assistant Professor at the City College of New York. She is a political historian of nineteenth-century America and Native America, specializing in the Civil War and Reconstruction eras, which she teaches every year. More broadly, her research and teaching focus on the intersecting histories of race, law, federal power, land, and violence in nineteenth-century America. She is currently at work revising her book manuscript, Native Reconstruction: Indian Territory and the Making of the Modern U.S. Nation-State, a history of Indian Territory as a central site and historical laboratory where the political, economic, and social revolutions of Reconstruction took place.

Panelist: Robert Jerome Greene II, Claflin University
Robert Greene II, PhD, is an assistant professor of history at Claflin University. His research interests include African American history, American intellectual history since 1945, Southern history since 1945, and public memory. Dr. Greene serves as book reviews editor and blogger for the Society of U.S. Intellectual Historians. He also serves as Chief Instructor for the South Carolina Progressive Network’s Modjeska Simkins School of Human Rights. Along with Tyler D. Parry, Dr. Greene is the co-editor of Invisible No More: The African American Experience at the University of South Carolina (University of South Carolina Press, 2021). He is also working on his first solo-authored book, examining the role of Southern African Americans in the Democratic Party from 1964 through the 1990s. Finally, Dr. Greene has published several articles and book chapters on the intersection of memory, politics, and African American history, and has written for numerous popular publications, including The Nation, Oxford American, Dissent, Scalawag, Jacobin, In These Times, Politico, and The Washington Post.

Panelist: Jonathan S. Jones, Virginia Military Institute
Jonathan S. Jones, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the Virginia Military Institute where he teaches advanced courses on the United States Civil War and Reconstruction, nineteenth century U.S. history, and the history of medicine. His research investigates the complex social, cultural, and health legacies of the Civil War, including opiate addiction and disability among veterans and has appeared in publications including The Journal of the Civil War Era, Washington Post, Slate, and Vice. Jones’s public scholarship has also been featured on various public radio, television, and podcast programs. Jones is a first generation college graduate originally from North Texas, where he taught public school before obtaining his PhD.

Panelist: Tiffany Mitchell Patterson, District of Columbia Public Schools
Tiffany Mitchell Patterson, PhD, is a manager of social studies at District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). Prior to joining the central services social studies team at DCPS, she served as an assistant professor of secondary social studies at West Virginia University in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies. She taught middle school social studies for 10 years in Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Virginia. Mitchell Patterson earned her doctorate in multilingual/multicultural education and education policy from George Mason University. Her research interests include racial and social justice in education, education activism, critical civic education, teaching Black and underrepresented narratives in social studies education. Advocacy, activism, intersectionality, anti-racist and anti-oppressive education lie at the core of her work. She is also an advisor to the Zinn Education Project's Teach Reconstruction Campaign.

Panelist: Tyler D. Parry, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Tyler D. Parry is an Assistant Professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and an expert on colonization of the Americas, the African diaspora, and the historical memory of slavery in the United States. He serves in a number of capacities within the profession, including as an editor for H-Afro-Am and as Book Review Editor for Black Perspectives. His first book, Jumping the Broom: The Surprising Multicultural Origins of a Black Wedding Ritual (UNC Press) is the first definitive examination of the “broomstick wedding,” a popular marital tradition usually associated with Black Americans. He has also written several national op-eds on the importance of teaching Reconstruction and serves as an advisor to the Zinn Education Project’s Teach Reconstruction Campaign.