By teaching our students to think, care, and act, we empower them to build a peaceful future.

Welcome to Think, Care, Act, where teachers and students can find rationales and resources to infuse required curricula with peace, character, global, and multicultural concepts throughout the year.

To act in a world whose problems seem overwhelming requires being able to use the powers of critical and creative thinking and compassionate and inclusive care. Employing these tools, adults and youth alike can work effectively and conscientiously to solve problems big and small, global and local.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


As we consider our responses to the events in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, we recognize that different age groups will need different approaches.  Teachers of youngest children will appreciate the advice in the first article.  Teachers of middle school to high school and college students may want to use information from the second and third articles for class discussions and action projects.  All of us might find comfort in part four and the mother's prayer of Mairead Corrigan Maguire.

1. How to (and if to) talk to kids:

We are overwhelmed with sadness over the school shootings in Connecticut, yet those of us who teach will be in our classrooms tomorrow.  As we wonder about our day with our students tomorrow, we may find help in this New York Times blog by KJ Dell-Antonia, How Not to Talk With Children About the Sandy Hook Shooting.

 I especially resonate with the author's discussion of the phrase: "worried thought, brave thought...." The article in its entirety is worth reading.

“We teach kids to counter a worried thought with a brave thought,” she said, and to “know that although the worried thought may come back, the brave thoughts are always there as well.” A worried thought might be “A shooter will come to my children’s school and there is nothing I can do about it,” with the brave counter “School shootings are still rare, and countless people are working to make them rarer still....”
--(Nancy Rappaport, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of school-based programs for the Cambridge Health Alliance.) 

2. Gun violence:

Many of us are struggling with what actions to take in the wake of this tragedies (and others caused by gun violence).  Nicholas Kristof's column gives us some background on the frustrating delays and non-achievements in the realm of regulating gun purchases.  In Do We Have the Courage to Stop This?  he reminds us that the US has the highest rate of child-homicide-by-gun violence of any developed country. 

"The tragedy isn’t one school shooting, it’s the unceasing toll across our country. More Americans die in gun homicides and suicides in six months than have died in the last 25 years in every terrorist attack and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

"So what can we do? A starting point would be to limit gun purchases to one a month, to curb gun traffickers. Likewise, we should restrict the sale of high-capacity magazines so that a shooter can’t kill as many people without reloading...." 

3. Mental illness: 

The Huffington Post ran Lisa Long's painful piece on living with a child with mental illness: 'I Am Adam Lanza's Mother': A Mom's Perspective On The Mental Illness Conversation In America.  

Recounting the horrific details of managing her own son's mental illness, Long concludes: "It’s time for a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health. That’s the only way our nation can ever truly heal."

4. Peace People: 

It may seem a stretch to invoke Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire's work and words at this juncture, but her actions (with fellow laureate Betty Williams and journalist Ciaran McKeown) to respond to violence in Northern Ireland in 1976, are instructive.  Read about the formation and history of the Peace People and the decline in violence they accomplished through the united community action of ordinary citizens.  

"Over the next couple of days, chapels were packed for prayers, groups of people prayed spontaneously at the death site, and local women went from door to door with a petition for a end to the violence....  The People of Northern Ireland showed their great desire for peace, when thousands marched throughout Northern Ireland - and in the South. Within the first 6 months there was a 70 percent drop in the rate of violence, and things would never return to the terrible rate of death and destruction experienced in 1976 when it looked like the community was spiralling into all out civil conflict....."  

Also on the Peace People's webpage, in the HISTORY section, at the bottom left, click on the link to hear Maguire read aloud a portion of her "Letter to my son Luke," in which these phrases might comfort us, adult and child alike: 

"And now, my little son, let me say the most important thing of all to you. Be happy, be joyous, live every minute of this beautiful gift of life. When suffering comes into your life, and sadly I cannot, much as I would love to, protect you from suffering, and when you come through the winter of your life, remember that summer will return, the sun will shine again, and the road will be covered in beautiful, oh so very beautiful, yellow roses of love."

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sixth Grade Presidential Elections Unit Focuses on Critical Thinking, Cooperation, Creativity, and Civic Engagement

My colleagues and I have designed a timely and dynamic presidential elections unit that is firing up future voters in sixth grade.  First, teachers introduced students to the history of presidential campaigns in the United States, focusing on the role of political parties and the media in recent years.  Next, students interviewed three adult family members to elicit major issues of concern in the presidential election of 2012.  Analyzing our survey results to determine major issues for voters, students in each sixth grade history class worked in cooperative groups researching party positions on major issues such as the economy and jobs, taxes and government spending, health care and education, national security and foreign policy, immigration, the environment, and more.  They have watched and analyzed the televised debates as well as using party websites, library reference websites, and other media. The focus throughout has been on issues and party platforms rather than personalities and individual candidates.

New working groups have been formed in each class, as students move from being non-partisan researchers to campaign managers for one of four parties: Democrat, Republican, Green, and Libertarian.  Running a “political campaign,” students will work in cooperative groups to create a candidate stump speech, party platform brochure, visual campaign advertisement, and campaign video.  Each item will present a positive view of the group’s party platform and candidate for president, without denigrating other parties.  Setting up campaign tables in Middle School hallways, political party campaign groups will present their campaign media to Middle School “voters” as the Middle School holds a realistic mock election run by the entire Middle School history department on Election Day, November 6.  By focusing on issues, research, and identification of media’s role in the election process, teachers and students alike are becoming more active and informed citizens. 

Families have been involved since the beginning of this project, providing supplemental understandings and personal insights for their children.  In my book, Think, Care, Act: Teaching for a Peaceful Future, I have described the elections issue research process in detail, and I emphasize that family involvement is key to the success of the project.  Students see their teachers, classmates, and adults at home engaged in the civic process. 

Throughout the process we have focused on the following essential questions:

1.      How can citizens become involved in the election process?

2.      What are the important issues of the election?

3.      What news and internet sources offer balanced information?  What is the role of campaign advertising in an election?

a.       Where do citizens become informed about an election?

b.      How do citizens determine if a source is unbiased?

c.       What is propaganda?

4.      What does civil discourse look like and sound like?  Why is it important in society?

Several resources have been helpful in the course of this project, including party platforms from party web pages.  Teachers have identified websites with content at readable grade levels to introduce the issues, but students are eagerly venturing out of their comfort zones to understand the complexities.  They bring articles and web links to the attention of their peers and teachers daily. 

As we made the transition from being nonpartisan researchers to role playing the campaign staffs of one of four political parties, we analyzed videos of historical campaigns as well as a set of campaign ad spoofs to discuss the power of graphics, jingles, slogans, and video-production techniques to change public opinion. 

In our classes, we have the opportunity to help students develop the ability to think critically and engage in respectful civil discourse about presidential election issues.  Rather than focusing on political personalities and partisanship, we can aim to stimulate intelligent and thoughtful participation in the political process.  In the short term, we can research party positions and the media’s role in electoral processes.  In the long term, we can pique students’ interest in becoming informed citizens who vote responsibly and participate in their communities.  Seize the time to engage your students in the political process, whether you have days or weeks to devote to this crucial process.

Helpful links:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Investigating the Media: from September 11 to September 21

It is no surprise to friends and colleagues that one of the books I read this summer was Beyond War: The Human Potential for Peace, by Douglas Fry (2009).  What does surprise some is the author’s thesis: For most of human history, humans have found ways to solve problems without war, through courage, conflict resolution, generosity, forgiveness, humor, and creativity. 
As an anthropologist, a student of humanity, Fry criticizes the tendency of many historians and anthropologists to over-emphasize war in the history of human behavior.  For the present and future, his research “suggests that humans have the capacity to replace the institution of war with international conflict resolution procedures to ensure justice, human rights, and security for the people of the world….”  In spite of the fact that many people think that peace building is impossible, Fry sees this potential for active peace building in human beings today, and he wants us to focus upon this positive view of human potential.  So do I.  

When I go looking for peace in the news, I can find it: people doing the impossible—using courage, conflict resolution, generosity, forgiveness, humor, and creativity.  The problem is: I have to look for peace news—it doesn’t seem to make the front page.  Our media seem to focus on the bad news instead, using the unfortunate motto: “If it bleeds, it leads.” 

That’s one reason the United Nations declared September 21 the International Day of Peace “devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples.”  It is hoped that we can take one day, at least, to focus on the promise of peace.

Investigating the media: September 11-21

During the month of September, in the days between September 11 and September 21, my students and I investigate the effects of the media on our perceptions and emotions.  The anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001 comes quickly during the opening days of school.  The tragedy offers a host of important learning opportunities for our students and our country.  Yet, this event is too often covered in the mainstream media with a harmful absence of critical thinking and background information.

In the May/June 2002 Columbia Journalism Review, journalist Russ Baker (2002) chastised fellow members of the press for “wrapping themselves in stars-and stripes graphics” rather than asking tough-minded questions about the attacks and the American response.  He continued with a helpful clarification that it is necessary to “distinguish between patriotism, love of one’s country, and nationalism—the exalting of one’s nation and its culture and interests above all others.  If patriotism is a kind of affection,” he writes, “nationalism is its dark side.”  Students are able to understand this distinction, and it helps them evaluate media coverage of such events as 9-11.

The Center for Media Literacy offers us five questions to help us analyze media:

1. Who created this message and why are they sending it?
2. What techniques are used to attract and hold attention?
3. What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented in this message?
4. What is omitted from this message? Why do you think it was left out?
5. How might different people interpret this message?

My students and I also use the research of Robin H. Gurwitch, modifying ideas from her Building Strength through Knowledge lessons for our students. 

Students keep simple media logs in the days surrounding September 11th.  They determine the emotional effects of specific media coverage in a category called “Promotes Healthy Mental Outlook vs. Hindrance to Healing.” Next, they tackle the category “Informational and Factual vs. Sensationalism.”  Some students are quite astute at seeing sensationalism for what it is. They appreciate historically comprehensive coverage while chastising channels for repetitive replaying of the burning Twin Towers, manipulation of images, and intrusive interviews, for example.  Finally, students determine whether coverage “Promotes Patriotism vs. Nationalism and Isolationism.”

Students build understanding of words that will help them analyze media coverage of 9-11: patriotism, nationalism, emotions, empathy, empowerment, resiliency, media, opinion, fact, sensationalism, manipulation, terrorism, and isolationism.  Family participation is key to a meaningful outcome. Indeed, in a letter home to families explaining our rationales, we strongly encourage adults to actively participate in the exercises, to discuss their own understandings and feelings with their children, and to listen to their children’s responses. We assure families that we are not asking them to immerse themselves in media coverage of 9-11, but that we want students to evaluate the effects of the various media upon them. 

We move from investigation of media coverage of 9-11-related events to local and global peacebuilding efforts.   

If the only knowledge students (and sometimes parents) have comes from superficial news coverage, teachers have to work extremely hard to bring historical perspective, controversies, and multiple sources of information into the classroom. And students appreciate it!  Further, if the only emphasis on current events is on negativity and violence, students do not appreciate the tenacity of local and global heroes working non-violently for justice and peace.

Returning to the same online and print news sources, we celebrate International Peace Day, September 21, with an analysis of neighborhood and international peace news.  

Before we can celebrate, however, students come to class complaining, “Mrs. Cannon, I can’t find anything positive in the news.”  Their complaints lead to discussion of why media focus on negativity and violence.  A perfect example is the fact that most of my students have heard of the Kony 2012 video that went viral in the spring.  It described the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army’s war against the government and people of Uganda.  But most students never heard of the Ugandan peacebuilder, Betty Bigombe, Ugandan government minister and peace activist who has worked for peace in Uganda for decades.  She says, “When you bring a political solution to any kind of violent conflict, then all these other underlying causes are addressed, and therefore people can start living together in harmony.  Peace is absolutely possible….”   I introduce her to them through a short online video.

After we watch the video demonstrating Bigombe’s courage and creativity in working for peace, we bring the search for peace news closer to home.  We identify issues of social justice, human rights, global outreach, and environmental sustainability to help students see that there is good news to be found—if they look hard enough.  I model such discoveries often, sharing with them news of neighbors beginning food banks and urban gardens, children starting animal shelters, and courageous peacebuilders around the world creating frameworks of durable, active, peace.  We use these examples as models to emulate—beginning our efforts in the world of our classrooms and school, working to make them safe, respectful, and welcoming places for all.

From 9-11 to Peace Day, students appreciate the chance to interpret media influence on their lives.  We can inoculate students to resist the mind-numbing impact of media in their lives. By helping students develop tools with which to engage with various media, questions to ask about the origins and purpose, and opportunities to discuss their emotional and critical reactions with parents and teachers, we can introduce a lifelong habit of critical—versus thoughtless—media consumption to our students and families. 

Finally, with a practical optimism about humanity’s potential, we can also help students identify the peacebuilding work going on around them—on Peace Day and every day.  Surely, they will feel empowered to join the effort to build a peaceful future.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Non-Violent Labor & Civil Rights Pioneer: A. Philip Randolph

For Labor Day: 

Learn about A. Philip Randolph, nonviolent labor organizer and civil rights pioneer (1889-1979).  Randolph founded and led the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.  He bucked race barriers to build this organization of black workers into a strong and successful one, earning a contract in 1937 with the Pullman Company.  When Randolph told President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941 that he would lead an anti-discrimination protest march on Washington, D.C., Roosevelt issued an executive order against discrimination in federal agencies, creating the Fair Employment Practices Committee.  Teach your students about the life and work of A. Philip Randolph

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Teaching Tolerance: Resources to Promote Safe & Welcoming Schools & Communities

As we gathered for school meetings today, several teachers admired a set of posters I received FREE from Teaching Tolerance. Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, offers teachers numerous free and immediately useful resources, including Teaching Tolerance Magazine, downloadable anti-bias, anti-bullying, civil rights, and other peace and equity lessons with deep and varied connections to curriculum. In my middle school classes, we use these resources as well as the Mix It Up Day surveys and program ideas.

Many years ago I used a video and support materials about globally known humanitarian Gerda Weissmann Klein, with third graders, for example. The posters I received today complement Facing History's Choosing to Participate exhibition, in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution. Links to this project's resources for teachers and families are below. This project aims to help inspire us to "consider the consequences of our everyday choices--to discover how 'little things are big....'" in promoting respect and civic engagement.

Periodic emails from Teaching Tolerance offer timely suggestions for building welcoming school communities and empowering youth to act. Often I open a link and use it in a lesson the very day it arrives. My school’s mission urges teachers to challenge, nurture, and inspire students to live lives of purpose, faith, and integrity.  As we embark on a new year, resources from Teaching Tolerance may be helpful tools in our endeavors.

Best wishes for a wonderful year,

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Thinking the Olympics

I’ll admit that my hopes for a peaceful future get fired up during the Olympics.  I am a fan of the accomplishments and striving of each generation of athletes who gather in an Olympic Village to compete.  I’m also a fan of the idea that people all over the world pause to appreciate and cheer for them.  Yes, I know the games are commercialized, controversies abound, and media coverage—in every country—often tends to promote nationalism versus a sense of global community.  I still love the Games.

I also love the opportunities Olympics' issues offer to thoughtful teachers and students.  Here are ways to continue the excitement of the games in the classroom, with an eye to enhancing critical thinking, media literacy, discussion of human rights, and appreciation of sportsmanship and athleticism.

Look at nationalism versus global unity: 

Colman McCarthy is one of my heroes.  Former Washington Post journalist McCarthy details his transition to peace educator in his 2002 book I’d Rather Teach Peace.  He directs the Center for Teaching Peace, and if you don’t know of McCarthy’s work, please visit the links below.  Perhaps he points to the need for peace education best by asserting “Unless we teach our children peace, somebody else will teach them violence.”

In 2006, McCarthy wrote an article entitled The Olympics are too Politicized, describing the career and critical thinking of 1990s Olympic speed skater Nathanial Mills.  Mills valued the games—as many of us do—as an opportunity for internationalism and the way they bring athletes and spectators together in pursuit of and appreciation of excellence.  However, McCarthy wrote, Mills began to look at the Olympics with a more critical eye:

It was only after he retired from competition that Mr. Mills saw how nationalism and pseudopatriotism degraded the Olympics. Why, he wondered, are national flags raised at the medal ceremonies? Why are national anthems played?
If the Games become contests between hired gladiators of various nations with the idea of building national prestige or proving that one system of government or other is better than another, they will have lost all purpose.
"The simplest way to de-nationalize the medal ceremony," Mr. Mills believes, "is to raise the Olympic flag and sound an Olympic anthem when awarding the winner. The Olympic flag, representing the continents on which humanity resides and not the nation-states artificially created upon them, has become one of the most recognized positive symbols on the planet. A denationalized ceremony would simply recognize the accomplishment of the winner—and all competitors—as a victory for humankind, giving everyone cause to say, 'That is one of our own….'"
McCarthy continues:
At the 2002 winter games in Salt Lake City, where he spoke as a representative of the U.S. Athletic Commission, Mr. Mills expressed those views. He was rebuked as a dreamer, an agitator and an unpatriotic nag….
Such thinking is beyond the executives of NBC, the Olympic broadcaster providing coverage—if past performance means anything—gushingly pro-American. NBC might as well become the Nationalistic Broadcasting Company….
Think about media coverage with your students.  Have they thought about the nationalism versus patriotism versus internationalism concepts Mills and McCarthy raise?  Probably not. 
  • Classroom activity to promote media literacy and a discussion of the nationalism factor of the Olympics: Invite students to browse lead stories from an international array of news sources during the time period of the 2012 Olympic Games.  Assign pairs of students to work in teams to represent different countries.  Ask them to count mentions of “their” country’s athletes versus those of other countries on “frontpage” headlines.  (See the link below to REFDESK, a compendium of national and international online newspapers.)  Follow with a discussion of Mills's suggestion of abandoning national flag ceremonies for Olympic flag ceremonies.  I can guarantee an engaging debate on the symbolic nature of national and international flags, media focus, and the role of the Olympics in international life.
Think about human rights and the Olympics:

While McCarthy decries the over-politicization of the Olympics, many wonder why certain issues are not discussed.  Which countries encourage women to compete?  Where are women’s rights discouraged?  What are the economic barriers to athletes and families?  Which countries support athletic development.  Is that support “fair?”  What is the role of the Olympian as role model?  Does an athlete on the global stage have a duty to speak out against human rights abuses in his/her country?  What happens to athletes who go “out of bounds” to bring such questions to the fore? 
In the 1968 example of U.S. gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos, their demonstration against racism and poverty caused immediate controversy.  Most of our students have not heard of Olympians Smith and Carlos.  They should know what they did on the medal stand—and more importantly—why.
  • Classroom activity to discuss the 1968 Mexico Olympic Award Ceremony in which U.S. gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos raised fists on the podium to bring attention to human rights issues.  Watch several minutes of the Democracy Now recap of the race and ceremony (and a compelling interview with Juan Carlos in 2011).  Have students read Dave Zirin’s Fists of Freedom article.   Pose the following questions for your students: Is it appropriate for an Olympian to use the award pedestal to make a statement about human rights in his/her country?  Would the American media applaud a Chinese athlete who did this today?  Did the raised-fist athletes disgrace or enhance the image of the United States?  What happened to the careers of these athletes compared to their peers?  Who supported these athletes’ stands?  Why?  These and other questions will engage your students in active thinking about the roles of athletes and the Olympics.
Think about questions of disability versus ability and the example of Oscar Pistorius:  

Colleague Matt Newcomb and I involve our 7th and 8th grade debate class students in this topic with a debate of the appropriateness of runner Oscar Pistorius competing in the Olympics.  What’s the controversy?  Pistorius is a double amputee from the knee down.  Nicknamed “The Bladerunner,” Pistorius runs with prosthetic limbs—spring-like devices that have some commentators crying unfair advantage.  Others applaud the resilience of Pistorius, born without bones in his lower legs, to have made such strides in the demanding sport.   Denied permission to compete in the 2008 Beijing Games, Pistorius ran in London in 2012.  I cried as I watched him run. 
  • Classroom activity: Invite students to read the Christian Science Monitor article about the Pistorius controversy.  Let them watch YouTube videos of on-street interviews and his competitions.  Using such resources, invite students to record pros and cons of allowing athletes with prosthetic devices to compete against so-called “able-bodied” athletes.  (Debate that term as well!)  In addition to the critical thinking that will result, awareness of disability rights is but one outcome of this activity.
Think about sportsmanship and the Games:

Is it wrong to conserve energy in one race to more effectively compete in another?  Can one fairly fall down after starting a race to ensure a better re-start?  Should a team “throw” a qualifying match to pull an easier opponent on the way to the medal stand?  These are questions raised in the 2012 Olympics that will surely engage students.  The most visible occurrence of such strategy was in the badminton qualifying rounds, where top teams were judged to be playing poorly to fare better against easier opponents later in the competition.  Eight Olympic badminton players were eliminated from the Games.  But some highly decorated Olympians admit to reserving energy in one race to better compete later.  Is this unsportsmanlike behavior?
  • Classroom activity: The questions raised in the Los Angeles Times article (and online videos) will fuel formal debates and informal discussions in your classroom.  Consider such questions as the following: What is the role of sportsmanship in the Olympics?  What is the role of sportsmanship at our school?  Does our school have a “win at all costs” culture?  Is it cheating if you don’t try your best?  Should all students have the opportunity to play some sport during the school day?  Are some sports valued more highly than others?  Why?  Who benefits from the popularity of sports in our culture?  Your students will take over this discussion, raising numerous issues of personal and school relevance.
The wrap up: Regardless of where you stand on the Olympics, they offer opportunities for us to teach students to think critically.  Watching how we watch the Olympics—as citizens of one country or a global family (or both?), evaluating the role of Olympic athletes in consciousness raising, discussing the meaning of able-bodiedness, and bringing questions of sportsmanship from the Olympics to students’ personal lives are valuable ways for us to change watching the Olympics to thinking the Olympics.
Links to resources:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Teaching about Muhammad Ali: Olympian, Boxing Champ, Humanitarian, & 2012 Liberty Medal Recipient

Muhammad Ali was recently announced as the recipient of the National Constitution Center’s 2012 Liberty Medal, awarded to “individuals of courage and conviction who strive to secure the blessings of liberty to people around the globe.”  The award makes me smile.  I never liked boxing as a sport, but I always liked Muhammad Ali.  Aside from his obvious talent, Ali had guts, he spoke out, he was funny, and he refused to fight in a war I also protested.   His religious views interested me in Islam, and his views on civil rights provoked me to become a more multicultural person.  Using his world-renown, he embarked on citizen diplomacy missions whose success intrigues me.  Suffering from Parkinson’s disease, Ali continues to work for the greater good: “I wanted to use my fame, and this face that everyone knows so well, to help uplift and inspire people around the world.”

This complex figure is one who will captivate the imaginations of students: a world famous athlete and humanitarian with a hip-hop wit and outspoken views.  Ali’s civil rights, humanitarian, diplomacy, and anti-war and anti-racism work are deserving of attention in the classroom. 

The links below are good tools for introducing students to Muhammad Ali.  Numerous encyclopedia articles and biographies are also available.  In 1967, Ali spoke out dramatically against the Vietnam War. The YouTube video provides details of Ali’s refusal to be drafted that galvanized the anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960s-70s.  The Constitution Center announcement provides background information on the Award and Ali’s career.  The Ali Center website provides videos featuring the Center’s core principles (respect, confidence, conviction, dedication, spirituality, and giving) and a Peace Garden curriculum, inviting schools in underserved communities to apply for funding to plant gardens.  Finally, the Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial Staff provides a strong defense of Ali’s choice as Liberty Medal recipient. 

The selection of Muhammad Ali is controversial, and this aspect of the award is one to pursue with students.  For example, the Inquirer website has a reader poll featuring questions suitable for a classroom debate: Was it right to give boxing great Muhammad Ali the 2012 Liberty Medal?  Yes, honors his fight for religious freedom…  No, he dodged the Vietnam draft…. Yes, despite Parkinson's, he's devoted himself to traveling the world on humanitarian missions….  No, better candidates than a former heavyweight boxer…. Other aspects of Ali’s life provide students with opportunities to explore such topics as the relationship between the religion of Islam and the Nation of Islam, freedom of religion afforded under the U.S. 1st Amendment, the U.S. civil rights and anti-war movements, diplomatic and hostage crises from Lebanon to Afghanistan, and brain injury among athletes.  Ali will receive the award in a ceremony in Philadelphia on September 13, 2012.

·         Link to YouTube Video—Muhammad Ali: Went to jail rather than be drafted for war:    Muhammad Ali defends his 1967 decision to refuse to fight in Vietnam: "My conscious won't let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn't put no dogs on me, they didn't rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father....”

·         Link to National Constitution Center announcement of Muhammad Ali as winner of 2012 Liberty Medal:

·         Link to Ali Center:  

·         Link to Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial praising the decision:  Ali a good choice for the Liberty Medal