Links for Learning
Curriculum Connections for High School Teachers and Students
This months Links for Learners will support high school
American History – roots of slavery; segregation
Social Science - working for economic and social justice; tools
for organizing service projects
Christian life styles - prayer; service to others; recognizing
those who serve
Statistics - understanding/applying survey results
from youth polls
Understanding Basic Terms in This Months Article
Look for these key words and terms as you read the article. Definitions or
explanations can be researched from the article itself, or from the resource
materials cited throughout the Link for Learners.
Migrant factory workers
One Woman's Power to Open Doors
Ninety-one year old Marie Wilkinson, only one generation removed from Civil
War-era slavery, still displays the leather whip used on countless slaves in
the South in her father-in-law's time. The whip reminds her of how her father-in-law
never allowed his anger at slavery to turn into hatred and bitterness toward
A lifetime advocate of economic and social justice, Wilkinson recently received
the Lumen Christi (Light of Christ) award for a lifetime of work on behalf
of the poor and the neglected. The Catholic
Extension Society , a group dedicated to missionary work in the United States,
recognized Wilkinson for the many projects
and programs she
has to her credit. The programs include fair housing, store desegregation,
redevelopment and health care for migrant factory workers. Wilkinson
goes head-to-head with racism and poverty wherever she finds it.
Other individuals have also opened doors in the cause of social justice:
Kenny - Sr. Bernie, as she is affectionately known in her little
corner of Appalachia , drives a Winnebago RV (the "St. Mary's Hospital
Wagon ") throughout two rural counties in western Virginia
caring for the sick. Also a recent recipient of the Lumen Christi award, Sr.
Bernie provides mobile health services to those who can't afford or can't travel
to a hospital or clinic.
Richard Jones has worked for over 40 years among the Lakota
people on the Rosebud Reservation of South Dakota. Another recipient of the Lumen Christi
award, Fr. Jones seeks to integrate Catholic teaching with Native American tradition.
, the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement, has spent a
lifetime working for social equality and justice. Best known for sparking the
Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott leading to the Supreme Court decision reversing
segregation in public transportation, Ms. Parks has put together a young people's
project called Pathways
to Freedom . The program allows youth to travel the paths of the
Underground Railroad and visit sites of critical events of the American civil
Racism and poverty also come under fire at the organizational level:
The Poverty and Race
Research Action Council, based in Washington, D.C., offers resources in
networking, research, and advocacy. You can sign up for a monthly e-newsletter,
and reports are available through the mail.
See the "Declaration
of African Descendants" issued at the World Conference Against Racism in December
2000 for a view of racist attitudes and practices still prevalent in our world.
The Law School at the University of Dayton in Ohio discusses the role of domestic and international
law in either promoting or alleviating racism.
What Doors Can Teens Open?
How do you become a Marie Wilkinson or a Sr. Bernie? By responding
to the needs that present themselves to you. By looking into the faces of people
who need your help. Listen, pray with an open heart, and you will realize who
needs you. Do these suggestions help your thinking?
Look for weekend or summer volunteer opportunities. The Appalachia Service Project is a good example of a summer program. Locally, your
own parish or diocese no doubt offers volunteer opportunities. On your own
diocesan website check out "Catholic Charities." The Diocese of Rochester
in New York supports through Catholic Charities the Catholic Campaign for Human Development
. This campaign will "… open eyes to just who the
poor and outcast in our midst are - the under-employed, untrained youth, isolated
elderly, disabled, migrant farm workers, refugees…" The program works
to empower people so they can escape poverty.
for Learners highlighting examples of teens working for peace may spark
your imagination. The Lutheran Peace Fellowship in Seattle, Washington suggests
24 ways students can work for peace in our world. Click on “Youth Work” on
the site’s home page to find the suggested activities. The Fellowship prompts
teens considering career choices to explore jobs that promote social justice.
Green , an organization that funds public service entrepreneurs,
includes on their website descriptions of civil rights and other service projects
developed by young people, most just out of college. The projects utilize the
skills and talents of their creators to fight poverty, racism and ignorance.
In your class or discussion group, imagine yourselves as a teen
version of the Catholic Extension Society. First, invite participants to share
their own experiences of racism or prejudice, or talk about someone they know
who is neglected or outcast. After identifying these situations, move to a discussion
of responses that fit the model of social justice. Did you or someone else
respond with Christian service? Would you nominate a peer for an award recognizing
teen service? What criteria would you use? Then take it to your school or
parish level to propose establishing an annual award recognizing a group of
teens for extraordinary service to social justice.
Youth Service America offers a project planning tool to help volunteer-minded youth organize an effective service
project. The questions and templates will guide you through the entire project
planning process, including developing a plan, funding your work, writing a
press release, and engaging in "service-learning reflection".
Can you use your talent for writing, media or art to explore
the world of those in need (which may also be your own world)? In April 2002
Suzan-Lori Parks became the first African American woman playwright to win a
Pulitzer Prize for her play "Topdog/Underdog", now running on Broadway.
Recognizing Teens' Commitment to Service
"Probability and Statistics" may not be your favorite high school
class, but check out the Youth Service America website for thought-provoking statistics on teen volunteerism.
Youths rank volunteering as one of the top three "cool" activities,
with teens volunteering 2.4 billion hours annually! Over 59% of America's youth
presently volunteer an average of 3.5 hours a week, 10% more than the adult
population. According to these numbers, teens could well be the unsung heroes
of service, clocking many more hours in service than do adults. President George
W. Bush is tapping that generosity in calling for every young person in America
to give 4,000 hours of service over their lifetime to the service of neighbors
and country. President Bush said, "We want to be a nation that serves
goals larger than self."
For another survey view on youth attitudes towards service, see the March
2002 report "Short Term Impacts, Long Term
Opportunities: The Political and Civic Engagement of Young Adults in America."
Based on a telephone survey conducted among 1,500 young adults after the tragic
events of 9/11, this thorough analysis indicates trust in government is at a
high point among America's young. At the same time, however, youth's feelings
of efficacy in helping to solve problems have not grown stronger. In other
words, they don't feel their efforts make much difference. One encouraging
note for religious leaders: the survey says that young adults who attend church
at least once a week also have community engagement as a core value.
Dr. Gwendolyn Midlo
Hall has researched and edited into a CD database thousands
of records from civil documents and published censuses covering the slave trade
in Marie Wilkinson's native Louisiana through to 1860. Her research work on
the background of over 100,000 slaves serves as a valuable historic resource.
This Afro-Louisiana history and genealogy
is proving invaluable to historians as well as to
Americans seeking links to their past.
For an inspiring story of the end of slavery in Louisiana, see the young adult
novel Sarny: A Life Remembered, by Gary Paulsen (Bantam Doubleday Dell
Books, New York, 1997).
What is probably the first novel written by an enslaved African American woman,
Narrative: Hannah Crafts has been newly published in the Spring
Try accessing some of these Internet sources for further general reference.
Be aware, however, that some of these sites may charge for downloading articles
contained within the site’s archives.
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
The New American Bible
of Vatican II
The New York Times
The Los Angeles Times
The Washington Post
The Miami Herald
The Associated Press
Pathfinder - Access
site to a number of online news publications
The History Channel
The Close Up Foundation – Washington, D.C.-based
Channel One – online resource for the school channel