Call Us! (by Sunday, April 19)

Special Episode

It’s time for our first call-in show! We know things are chaotic for you and every other educator right now. We feel it too, so this seems like the perfect time to talk. Pick up the phone and dial 888-59-STORY (888-597-8679). Our lines are open until Sunday night, April 19. Teaching hard history is even harder right now, so let’s talk about resources you can use if you’re teaching virtually. Ask us your questions; tell us your stories. And let us know how you’re doing.
Whether you work with elementary, middle or high school students or whether you teach social studies or English language arts, the coming months are a good time to plan how you can bring accurate, foundational content about enslavement into your lessons. Tell us how you’ve been introducing your students to enslavement. What have you learned? What can we do to help? And we’ll try to have you on the show next week.

P.S. If you like, you can also email us at


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Meredith McCoy: Hey, Hasan.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Hey, Meredith. It’s good to hear from you. How’re you holding up over there with all that’s going on? 

Meredith McCoy: You know, we’re week one into teaching in our new term. We’re on trimesters here at Carleton. You know, a new group of students. They seem to be coping alright. We’re just… we’re going to get through it together. How’s stuff going for you?

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Pretty good. We’re on semesters, so we sort of came back from an extended Spring Break.

Meredith McCoy: Mmm.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: And I’ve really been amazed at how well the students have adjusted. 

Meredith McCoy: Oh, that’s good.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: It is good! But I’m not so much worried about them, Meredith, as I am about me! ‘Cause fourth-grade math is about to kill me!

Meredith McCoy: Oh no!

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: But you know, with a little practice, I boost my confidence. And I’ll get through this with my girls. It too shall pass, and we will get past it.  

Meredith McCoy: Oh, I’m sending you good vibes. Good luck.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: I appreciate it. I appreciate it. I need all of it, all of it. So hey, what do you say? You want to get started?

Meredith McCoy: Yeah, yeah. Let’s do it. Let me head upstairs.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Alright, I’ll find a quiet corner, too.  

Okay, close the door for me, Layla? And tell your mother to hang up the phone, stop talking so loud?

Daughter: What phone?

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Tell her to stop talking so loud. 

Meredith McCoy: Y’all better cut that.

He’s going to get in trouble if you leave that in the audio.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: “Tell your mother, I said…” 

Meredith McCoy: Good luck.

I’m Meredith McCoy

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: And I’m Hasan Kwame Jeffries. And this is Teaching Hard History: American Slavery.

Meredith McCoy: A special series from Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Hey Meredith, do you mind if we turn off the theme song now. 

Meredith McCoy: No, that’s okay. I really do like it, though. 

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: This is such a different time. And this isn’t a normal episode. 

Meredith McCoy: Absolutely. 

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: With all of the changes that each of us are facing right now, we’ve decided to shift gears with our podcast too. It’s time to come together. So we were thinking: what if we do a call-in show? We could talk to some of our listeners—talk to you—to find out how you’re doing, and to ask how you’re using the framework to teach about slavery, and what we could actually do to help you out.

Meredith McCoy: So we had our team set up a number where you can leave a voicemail for us. You can call, tell us what subject you teach and what you want to talk about. Because we want to hear from you – the teachers and educators in our audience. 

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Exactly. We want you to share your perspectives, your experiences, your ideas, and the challenges that you are facing as you endeavor to teach hard history accurately and effectively. So if you can spare a moment, all you have to do is pick up the phone and dial 1-888-59-STORY. That’s 888-597-8679.

Meredith McCoy: So in the next episode, we’ll share your messages, address your questions, and have some of you on for an in-person conversation with us. Hasan, what was that number again?

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: That’s 1-888-59-STORY. And here’s our Executive Producer Kate Shuster calling in, so you can hear what that sounds like:

Kate Shuster: Hey, Meredith. Hey, Hasan. It’s Kate Shuster, calling from Montgomery, Alabama. Everything is tough right now. But I’m doing okay, and I’m glad that y’all are too. I’m spending quarantine doing chores I never usually would, like cleaning the windows. And, that’s given me a better view of my cats trying to hunt lizards outside. 

I am super excited that you’re doing a call-in show. I think that our listeners are really going to want to share their stories and ask questions. And I am thrilled to hear what they have to say! I feel like educators are doing extraordinary things in these extraordinary times. I’m just real thankful that you’re here to support them. We’re educators. We’re used to challenges. We’re going to get through this together and come out better on the other side. That’s all I have to say, and you know how to get in touch with me. Good luck!

Meredith McCoy: Thanks, Kate. That’s so true. Look, we know that everyone is overwhelmed right now. As teachers, we are struggling to figure out how to teach online, how our students can access lessons, how to teach kids who might be overwhelmed with additional home responsibilities. And that’s even if our students have adequate access to technology and resources at home, let alone how we can support students with unstable housing right now. So in the call-in episode we will also address distance-teaching challenges and specific resources for teaching hard history that you can plug-in to the new digital formats we’re all adjusting to right now.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Like so many things, the history of American slavery might seem like the last thing that anyone wants to think about. But slavery’s long-lasting legacy helps explain the painful reality that African Americans and Native Nations are being hit disproportionately hard by this pandemic. And as we’ve heard from a lot of educators, this is also a time for thinking about what comes next. And whether you work with elementary, middle or high school students—whether you teach Social Studies or English Language Arts—the coming months are also a time for planning and reflection on how to bring new and interesting content into our lessons. 

Meredith McCoy: So as you’re looking back over the last year, what new topics related to the history of American slavery have you tried to teach in your classes? And how did your students respond? Where have you found ways to incorporate Indigeneous enslavement into your existing lessons and learning goals? Are there any concerns that are standing in the way of trying something out? And have you found successful strategies for engaging parents and other teachers in this content? 

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: How are you introducing your students to systemic concepts like labor and land theft, or racism? If you teach younger children in elementary school, what ways have you tried to introduce them to the history of slavery?  

Whatever you’re experiencing, you can be sure you’re not alone. And we are here to wrestle with these challenges together and learn from each other.

Meredith McCoy: So pick up the phone and give us a call. Most importantly, let us know how you’re doing. And then also tell us how teaching hard history has been going in your classes. Feel free to tell us a story about something that’s happened during a lesson. What are you hoping to incorporate in the future? And if you’ve encountered problems that you’d like some help thinking about, let us know! Tell us about needs that you see or resources that would be helpful for you. And if you’re excited and proud of things you’ve tried with your students, tell us about those, too. And Hasan, how do they do that again?

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Just give us a call at 1-888-59-STORY. You can find that number in the episode description. Or, if you’re tech-savvy, you can record a voice memo on your smartphone and email us a message at However, you want to reach out is fine by us. The important thing is that you get in touch. We genuinely want to hear from you.

We will be taking calls and emails throughout the week. So be sure to contact us by the end of the day on Sunday, April 19th. 

Meredith McCoy: But you don’t have to wait. Go ahead and pick up the phone and call us now. And with that, shall we wrap this up?

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: Let’s do it.

Teaching Hard History: American Slavery is a podcast from Teaching Tolerance—a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center—helping teachers and schools prepare their students to be active participants in a diverse democracy. This special series provides a detailed look at how to teach important aspects of the history of American slavery. You can find us online at

Meredith McCoy: Our production team—Shea Shackelford, Russell Gragg, Barrett Golding, Gabriel Smith and Kate Shuster—deeply, deeply appreciate your patience as we work out the technical kinks of recording this podcast now that everyone is sheltering in place. 

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: And to all of you listening, we want to say thank you for being a part of this with us. Along with everyone at Teaching Tolerance, we are thinking about you during this difficult time. And we are so excited to talk with you in our upcoming episode.

Meredith McCoy: Stay safe y’all. 

Hasan Kwame Jeffries: I’m Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries—Associate Professor of History at the Ohio State University. 

Meredith McCoy: And I’m Dr. Meredith McCoy—Assistant Professor of American Studies and History at Carleton College.

Hasan Kwame Jeffries and Meredith McCoy: And we’re your hosts for Teaching Hard History: American Slavery.


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