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Church Tragedy Inspires Many To Learn More About Charleston's History
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Church Tragedy Inspires Many To Learn More About Charleston's History

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Church Tragedy Inspires Many To Learn More About Charleston's History

Church Tragedy Inspires Many To Learn More About Charleston's History
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Some academics, librarians and history students have been rallying around the hashtag Charleston Syllabus, suggesting readings that might help inform the public of some of the city's history.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The killings in Charleston last week offered many echoes of history. That includes violence targeted at a church. Kidada Williams teaches history at Wayne State University in Detroit.

KIDADA WILLIAMS: African-American churches have always been targeted. They have never been safe spaces when it comes to white supremacists who are looking to express their - or vent their frustrations in life on African-Americans.

MONTAGNE: Kidada and her colleague Chad Williams at Brandeis University wanted to help those outside of the African-American community better understand that history, so they started tweeting, using the hashtag #CharlestonSyllabus.

WILLIAMS: We started tweeting primary and secondary sources about Charleston history, about African-American churches. We asked other historians to chime in, and then it just grew from there.

MONTAGNE: Social media users have offered up documents, including South Carolina's Declaration of Secession from the Union, which ignited the Civil War.

WILLIAMS: That was something that a lot of people retweeted because they weren't familiar with that document.

MONTAGNE: Which is the point. Kidada Williams sees the lessons of history reaching new people, far beyond the academic world.

WILLIAMS: The audience is the larger public, ordinary people who are watching the news and trying to understand - where did a shooting like this come from?

MONTAGNE: The effort has shown people many different ways they can visit the past.

WILLIAMS: You know, a well-written historical (unintelligible) is something that's accessible. A museum exhibit in South Carolina, in Charleston, would be a great place for people to begin. So would documentaries. I think one of the things that we saw on the list was that people were open to embracing all of the resources for understanding this history.

MONTAGNE: But for Kidada Williams, understanding history is not necessarily the ultimate goal.

WILLIAMS: I hope that what happens is that people look at the resources, and they learn, and they turn that knowledge into action.

MONTAGNE: That's Kidada Williams, an associate professor of history at Wayne State University, who helped start the hashtag #CharlestonSyllabus.

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