July 4th is over and we have celebrated the independence of the United States from Britain once again. There are many stories, legends, and myths surrounding the birth and past of our country.They generally tell the story of those in power. The days leading up to Independence Day got me thinking about the stories of those who weren't in power or the stories of the regular folks. Here are a few.
Strange Fruit tells the stories of 9 African-Americans that contributed to our history that you don't usually hear much about. Lies My Teacher Told Me includes the other sides to those histories you learned in high school. The Port Chicago 50 tells the story of 300 sailors that were killed in an explosion in 1944. This happened right here in the Bay Area in Richmond and not many people know about it.
A People's History of the United States is Howard Zinn's classic that "seeks to present American History throught the eyes of the common people." There is a Young People's edition as well. Also Zinn's one graphic novel A People's History of American Empire is amazing. Learn more with powerful illustrations!
In Rethinking Columbus Bill Bigelow helps young people clear up some of the legends that have been tied to the formation of the United States for hundreds of years. And 500 Years of Chicano History was published in response to the Quincentennial celebration of Columbus's arrival in the Western Hemisphere. And most of us know about Brown vs. The Board of Education, but did you know there was a desgregation case here in California in 1946? Separate is Never Equal is a picture book for children that tells the story of that case.
The Untold History of the United States is a companion to Oliver Stone's documentary series. There is a Young Reader's edition as well. Did you know that Rosa Parks was an investigator and organizer for the NAACP? At the Dark End of the Street tells that little known history and a lot more about the Civil Rights Movement. In Murder at the Sleepy Lagoon, Pagán gives a lot of little known history of the Los Angeles area while helping solve a murder mystery during what has been known as the Zoot Suit Riots.
And this one isn't really a hidden history but it does tell our history from textbooks elsewhere in the world.
Spend some of your summer reading about our little known history with books from the Oakland Public Library. Let us know your favorite hidden histories of the United States.