Virtual Professional Learning

POV Watch Club: After Show and Resources | July

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In his 1963 address, “A Talk to Teachers,” James Baldwin spoke of the responsibilities that educators have in intervening in the world in order to change the world. He said, “The obligation of anyone who thinks of himself as responsible is to examine society and try to change it and to fight it - at no matter what risk. This is the only hope society has. This is the only way societies change.” What do we do, teachers, when people with power weaponize myths and legislation to defend white supremacist ideas and structures?  Watch Club calls it out! Welcome to this month’s After Show where the lies are exposed; the possibilities and necessity for intervening in these harmful systems and structures are realized; and where we offer practical tools for doing this work.

For July we featured POV's documentary,The Neutral Ground. The Neutral Ground documents New Orleans’ fight over monuments and America’s troubled romance with the Lost Cause. In 2015, director CJ Hunt was filming the New Orleans City Council’s vote to remove four confederate monuments. But when that removal is halted by death threats, CJ sets out to understand why a losing army from 1865 still holds so much power in America.

In this month’s After Show our guests CJ Hunt, Cora Lee Davis, Kyley Pulphus, and Kelsey Reynolds engage in a critical conversation about U.S. education, social justice, and media literacy from their specific perspectives as filmmakers and educators. Join us for a conversation about the power of storytelling and the essential role educators have. It is an inspiring reminder about the vocation of teaching and caring for students and their capacity to thrive!

Keep the conversation going in the Padlet and don’t forget to join the club for more critical documentaries and community conversations about how to teach towards liberation.


To support your continued growth on this journey and offer some tangible tools to bring into your classroom practice we are also providing this list of free resources. Each month, following the After Show, you can expect a list of resources to support your teaching, continued learning, and creativity in your own classroom.

  • The Neutral Ground film website
  • The Neutral Ground Lesson Plan: Confederate Monuments: They’re Not Neutral
    This lesson plan is designed to help students gain a more critical understanding of the controversies surrounding contemporary movements to remove confederate monuments. The goal is to foster healthy conversations and cultivate a deeper understanding of the subject matter while also promoting compassion and advocacy. Created By: Cora Lee Davis and Ahmariah Jackson.
  • The Neutral Ground Discussion Guide
    Use this guide to find support in framing dialogue around this film and the issues within the film. This guide provides historical and political context as well as engaging questions to guide these conversations. Created By: Cora Lee Davis and Ahmariah Jackson.
  • Lesson Plan: Laying the Groundwork for Conversations about Systemic Racism
    In this lesson created by PBS Digital Innovator All-Stars Warren Wise and Gabe Garcia, educators are guided through activities, discussions, and clips Through the Night in order to lay the groundwork for further conversations about race and racial justice. Educators will expand student understanding of key concepts including justice and systems. This vocabulary work will prepare students to identify systems, justices, and injustices in curated documentary clips. This guided screening will build students’ racial consciousness as they examine where, why, and against whom injustices in the film occur.
  • POV Community Network - POV’s Free Lending Library
    POV believes in the power of film to engage communities in dialogue around the most important social issues of our time. Join POV's Community Network to gain access to POV's award-winning films and digital projects and to screen this documentary in your classroom. Discover discussion guides, standards-aligned lesson plans, reading lists and other resources to help shape the conversation and inspire action.
  • Tools for Anti-Racist Teaching
    A virtual professional learning series brought to you by PBS Learning Media with conversations between educators, activists, scholars, and advocates who are working to address, name, and educate people regarding issues surrounding racial justice in education.


What did the confederacy say? 

  • The U.S. Constitution and Secession: A Documentary Anthology of Slavery & White Supremacy, Dwight Pitcaithley
    If you’re a teacher with very little planning time, this is the one book I’d recommend. It begins with a 60-page introduction summarizing the events leading up to the war. The intro is so well-written it could be assigned as its own text and still hit harder than any textbook. The rest of the book is filled with clean reprints of primary sources showing IN THEIR OWN WORDS how central slavery was to secessionists, their founding documents, and the compromises they demanded in an attempt to avoid war.
  • Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War, Charles B. Dew
    A perfect partner read for The U.S. Constitution and Secession. Many people forget that each seceding state appointed a Secession Commissioner to go and convince other southern states to secede. They traveled the country like salesmen. Looking at their “pitches” to other states, we see both how central slavery was to their argument and how they tailored that pitch to play on the racial fears of non-slaveholding whites.  This is the book you draw on when someone wants to argue “but only 2% of white southerners owned slaves.” Yup, the confederacy knew that and duped their base into believing: but if these blacks get free they’ll kill the other 98% of us and take our land!   

What do we remember? 

  • Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory, David Blight
    This book may be thick, but it’s the best thing you will likely read on the Lost Cause. It is written with an energy and level of verbal dexterity that makes the reading easy and captivating. Blight shows how America faced a choice as to whether they would publicly remember the Civil War as the birth of Black emancipation or the conflict that reconciled feuding white brothers. Oh the consequences of that choice! 
  • Black Reconstruction in America (1860-1880), WEB DuBois
    The best and most essential thing you can read on Reconstruction. Writing in the 30s, DuBois is also subverting all scholarship which at the time, deemed reconstruction an utter failure. It’s full of poetry, power, and receipts. However, it’s dense and will take some prep in order to find the right selections for students. Makes for a great paired read with Race & Reunion.   
  • Dixie’s Daughter’s: The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Preservation of Confederate Culture, Karen L. Cox
    An essential text on the history of the UDC and how they helped cement the myths of the Lost Cause in American memory. Reads almost like a true-crime thriller, following the breadcrumbs all the way back to the unexpected culprits who broke into the vault of our national memory and replaced the truth with forgery called “states rights.” This text is a focused way to talk about how women participated in white supremacy.  
  • How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with The History of Slavery Across America, Clint Smith
    Smith visits some of the same sites featured in the film, making this the perfect companion text for The Neutral Ground. It is beautiful, visceral first-person writing that would be great to teach in literature/ELA classes to discuss author’s voice and narrative nonfiction. More importantly, it moves past the rhetorical question “how do we reckon” and examines the literal text of what tour guides are saying at various sites dedicated to discussing (or avoiding) the history of slavery. I can imagine assigning students to write a similar first person narrative as they prepare for a local field trip.   

What are momuments? 

  • Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth-Century America, Kirk Savage
    This is written by an art historian and is a great text for talking about race and art. More importantly, Savage zooms out to invite the reader to ponder the larger question: what are monuments even for? How did monuments to war become one of the most common things on our landscape? If the Civil War’s great victory was freeing the slaves, why are there so few monuments to emancipation? 
  • No Common Ground: Confederate Monuments and the Ongoing Fight for Racial Justice, Karen L. Cox
    A great follow-up to Dixie’s Daughters. This book helps students remember that black people have resisted Confederate Monuments ever since they were erected. Cox traces the role of monuments in the ongoing fight for black freedom. It is refreshing and necessary to talk about confederate symbols in a way that spotlights black freedom rather than gets lost in the machinations and motivations of white supremacy.   

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