The challenges and joys of teaching USII in the age of Trump

This fall I am teaching the US History II (1870-present) for the first time in almost a decade. Oh boy. Typically I teach the European History II survey course that covers twenty-seven countries over five centuries. I jumped at this opportunity to teach the history of just one country over 140 years.

When I last taught USII, it was while I was simultaneously teaching at four different colleges. To maintain my sanity back then (and with a newborn on my hands), I stuck to a textbook-aligned plan that allowed for minimal flexibility. I had my stock lectures and themes and led primarily teacher-centered classes.

Things are going to be different this time around. My students will explore US History as it relates to some of the most pressing issues of today: namely race, immigration, and ethnicity. News coverage is saturated with Trump pronouncements about “building a wall” and halting Muslim immigration, as well as his “look at my African-American” comment at a recent rally. I can’t see any other way to teach USII without addressing the history behind these remarks and why they get so much traction today.

First stop, We’re History and The Junto. 

PS I found inspiration in this AHA Perspectives article: