History, John Lewis, & the National Book Award; New Smithsonian for women’s history?; Our most diverse Congress ever; Learning from Lincoln on how to handle political disagreements

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Did you see that two history-based works won top prizes at the prestigious National Book Awards? Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad won the National Book Award for fiction and Democratic U.S. Rep. John Lewis, of Georgia, shared the prize for young people’s literature for a graphic novel about his civil rights activism. The national hero apparently came to tears during his speech, as he recalled that as a young boy in Alabama he was denied a library card because he was black. How you like him now? “To come here, receive this award, this honor — it’s too much,” he said. Awesome.

A congressional panel has called for a new Smithsonian museum dedicated to women’s history. The institution has other priorities at the moment (including a major overhaul of the Air and Space Museum), but they have labeled the congressional panel’s recommendations for funding the facility “an achievable plan” for the future. I wonder what will happen first, this museum, or a female presidency?

Speaking of Congress: the upcoming 115th Congress will be the most diverse in US history, which takes that distinction away from the 114th. That is a great trend we have going, yet the institution is still disproportionally (when compared to the US population) white and male.

Well here is more news that indicates that History channel is actually trying to be taken seriously again as a purveyor of legit history. They have got a line up shows to commemorate the Dec 7th attack on Pearl Harbor. Of course it remains to be seen if these will feature real historians, or if they will blame the whole thing on aliens.

Nice piece today over on History News Network by Jonathan W. White, history professor at Christopher Newport University. Using some appropriate anecdotes from Lincoln’s life,  he calls on us all to learn from the 16th president’s example in order to heal and smooth over our political rifts so that we can engage in more healthy and constructive policy debates. Let’s challenge each others ideas, not make attacks on each other’s character, so that compromise might still be possible. Amen.  (But then again, there was that whole Civil War thing).

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