Dissonant Voices Teacher Institute

Welcome to our summer teacher institute, Dissonant Voices: Seeking Justice in the American Experience.

June 22 – 24, 2010

Presidio, San Francisco, Golden Gate National Parks

Our workshop is framed by the essential question “How does the American Experience contradict justice for all?” We have chosen topics that are rooted in areas of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Angel Island, but are emblematic of larger social issues.

Daisy Martin, the Co-Director of the National History Education Clearinghouse, and Associate Director of Historical Thinking Matters at Stanford University, will set the stage with a discussion of how historic inquiry and issues based teaching can provoke students to pose meaningful questions, apply critical thinking skills, and build their own interpretations of local, national, and international events and issues.

Photo of Vietnam War veterans protesting the war, Presidio, San Franciso
Veterans for Peace


Session #1: Free Speech at the Presidio

Is it dangerous to dissent during war time?

Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi, authors of Wherever There’s a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California, will take a close look at what happened when a group of Vietnam War veterans tried to bring their anti-war message to the parade grounds of the Presidio in San Francisco. Their arrest and subsequent First Amendment lawsuit is part of a long tradition of government suppression of dissent during wartime – including the double imprisonment of Japanese Americans at Tule Lake deemed “disloyal” during World War II, the hounding of suspected “subversives” during the Cold War, and the surveillance of peace activists today.

Rik Penn, Education Ranger at the Presidio of San Francisco, will share the story of the “Presidio 27,” 14 of whom were charged with the capital offense of mutiny during the Vietnam War for rioting over the shooting of a fellow soldier while imprisoned in the Presidio stockade. Against explicit orders, some also marched with thousands of other protestors in the “GIs and Vets March for Peace” in October of 1968.

Photo of spray painted warning sign to "looters," during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

Session #2: Geologic Justice

How does our response to geologic challenges reflect our national values?

In this session we will examine the dynamic and surprising intersection between geology and environmental justice. How do political and commercial interests influence our experiences with geologic hazards and resources? How do the people behind these interests promote the health and safety of some communities, while denying others equal protection? What are the unnatural components of a natural disaster?

Roxi Farwell, Education Ranger in the Marin Headlands, and Charity Maybury, Senior Urban Ecology Specialist at the Crissy Field Center, will present classroom materials and teaching strategies for including socio-geologic issues in issues-based social studies and science curricula.

Photo of African American Alcatraz inmate working in the laundry

Session #3: African Americans at Alcatraz Penitentiary

How can activism create or further dialogue about injustice?

Kevin Epps, filmmaker and community activist, relates the story of jailhouse activist and prisoner Robert Lipscomb and his efforts at desegregating 1950s Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. Epps’s film, The Black Rock, unveils and examines the racism of the federal policies within Alcatraz, and the historic context in which African American inmates and guards found themselves.

Photo of Indian Occupation era "This Land is My Land" sign hanging above the Alcatraz prison entrance

Session #4: American Indian Occupation of Alcatraz

How can activism create or further dialogue about injustice?

Shirley Guevara and Ilka Hartmann, participants in the 1969-1971 American Indian Occupation, will reflect on this iconic call to political action. Visiting different areas of the island, they will reminisce about the Big Rock School, decisions deemed “Indian decisions,” daily life of the occupiers, and other political movements of the 1960s that inspired the Occupation.

Photo of Chinese immigrants detained on Angel Island

Session #5: Chinese Immigrant Experience on Angel Island

How do groups of immigrants experience American justice?

Angel Island, opened in 1910, provides the dramatic backdrop for the troubling narrative of Pacific immigration to America. Chinese immigrants, seeking a new life under the shadow of the Chinese Exclusion Act, were detained on Angel Island for months and sometimes years. Through contentious court appeals, collective protest, and deeply personal poetry, the newcomers fought their status as “arrived but not landed” (from Dong Kingman, Paint the Yellow Tiger). Park Ranger Ryan Mayeda will share these stories of Angel Island, and show us the newly-restored barracks where hope and resignation bunked side-by-side.


Session #6: Putting the Pieces Together

Daisy Martin will present a session on how to augment the traditional textbook learning with place-based learning. She will facilitate a hands-on session in which participants will design elements of a place-based lesson based on the information and strategies garnered during the three days.

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Building 201, Fort Mason

San Francisco, CA 94123-0022


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