History Teacher Shares Unkown Parts of U.S. History

Thursday, October 21, 2010

There have been several cases this week of public officials and public schools incorrectly describing aspects of U.S. history and civics. We talk with Mark Oglesby, a high school history teacher, about some important, yet unknown, facts from U.S. history that he believes all his students — and all Americans — should be armed with. Author Kenneth Davis also joins in.

We've been putting Takeaway listeners to the test. You can see how historically literate you are by taking this online, mini-quiz


Kenneth C. Davis and Mark Oglesby

Produced by:

Arwa Gunja

Comments [5]

Agree with Tom on nitpicking of the approval vs. signing of the Declaration.

I listened to this segment online tonight and thought that Mark Oglesby sounded a bit odd when explaining the most important song in American history: "The song I choose, during the 1920's, we talk about the jazz age, we talk about the music with the roaring 20's but 'Strange Fruit' by Billie Holiday is just a tremendous song. Billie Holiday just uses her power, her voice, to show what is going with African Americans and talk about lynchings."

I suppose he was a bit nervous, but as he mentioned the 1920's twice, the casual listener might have thought it was recorded then. But was written in 1936 by Abel Meeropol, and recorded in 1939 by Holliday.

Oct. 21 2010 10:44 PM
Tom from Boston, MA

Your question 1 epitomizes the failure of the teaching and learning of history in the US. The important fact is that July 4, 1776 represents the declaration of independence and the resulting struggle to separate from Britain. To focus so narrowly on the approval of the wording and call the other answers wrong (well, the Bill of Rights *is* wrong) is to sweat the details and ignore the concept. Once people get the idea that history is just details, and that they'll never remember those, they give up, and miss out on the concepts entirely. Leave the minutiae to the historians. If we know the concepts, we can look up the details on wikipedia.

Oct. 21 2010 02:28 PM
Steven from Brooklyn

Joan Baez sang Birmingham Sunday. It was written by her brother in law and fellow folk singer Richard Farina.

Oct. 21 2010 10:50 AM
Jeff F from Boston

Well, if we're picking nits, then it should be pointed out that the original account of Betsy Ross sewing the *first* American flag was made by her grandson in 1870 - nearly a century later! Other than his account, there's no historical evidence that it happened that way (although we know she did sew flags for the American Navy).


Also, one of the guests opined that the two distinct groups which have lived together longest in America are African-American blacks and European whites. I would suggest that the resident Ameri-Indians of the Northeast (eg the Wampanoag) and the Europeans hold that distinction.

Oct. 21 2010 09:46 AM

I thought the Continental Congress approved the wording. Shouldn't the quiz question should have included Continental before the word Congress?

The question on the test is confusing without it.

Oct. 21 2010 07:11 AM

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