Past is Prologue: How Lessons From the Reconstruction Era Can Help Us Build

Actions Panel

Past is Prologue: How Lessons From the Reconstruction Era Can Help Us Build

Virtual BLM at School event. Michelle Coles, author of "Black Was the Ink", to discuss the parallels between the Reconstruction Era & today.

When and where

Date and time



About this event

  • 1 hour
  • Mobile eTicket

Join D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice for a virtual event in support of the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action. Mimi Eisen, co-author of Erasing the Black Freedom Struggle: How State Standards Fail to Teach the Truth About Reconstruction, will be in conversation with Michelle Coles, author of Black Was the Ink, to discuss the parallels between the Reconstruction Era and today. What can we learn from the past? Further, what do current school districts’ standards reveal about the present-day failures to accurately teach Reconstruction? Participants will have time to collaborate, share resources, and reflect on their own Reconstruction teaching and learning experiences. Attendees will receive a copy of Erasing the Black Freedom Struggle or a picture or YA book connected to the 13 guiding principles for Black Lives Matter at School.

Michelle Coles is an award-winning young adult novelist, former civil rights attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, and public speaker. Her goal in writing is to empower young people by educating them about history and giving them the tools to shape their own destiny. Her debut novel, Black Was the Ink, the first young adult historical fiction about the Reconstruction Era, won the 2022 Grateful American Book Prize, a 2022 Skipping Stones Award, and the 2019 New Visions Award Honor. Learn more at

Mimi Eisen is a program manager at the Zinn Education Project. Originally from Philadelphia, she holds a BA in history from Cornell University and an MA in American history from Brown University, with a secondary focus in digital public humanities. Eisen specializes in civil rights, law, and citizenship in late nineteenth-century America. She has taught high school-level U.S. history and developed educational content across eras and mediums. Her work is grounded in the idea that the past is far more than a treasury of facts: it is contested, collective, and instructive of the perils and possibilities of the moment.

Event image
Event image