“Get Up, Stand Up:” Resistance Through Popular Music and Poetry


The Idaho Humanities Council’s 2021 weeklong Summer Teacher Institute, titled “Get Up, Stand Up:” Resistance Through Popular Music and Poetry, was held July 19-24, 2021, on the campus of the College of Idaho in Caldwell. Twenty-nine teachers from around the state participated.

During this extraordinary time in U.S. history, institute participants examined protest poetry and music as scholars focused on an exploration of historical and contemporary protest expressions around the country. Participants joined in lectures and discussions, watched films, attended workshops, and collaborated with one another and the leading scholars to immerse themselves for the week, sharing ways of teaching this subject.

The week offered historical content and context of poetry and song, and workshops on creating and teaching poetry. Evening presentations on the topic were free and open to the public. Evening presenters included the keynote by Major Jackson, Vanderbilt University: “Poetry is the Message, The Message is Love,” a virtual presentation. Remaining presentations were in person, including Alexandra Teague, University of Idaho: “Feminist Poetry of Resistance: Redefining Ourselves;” Sienna Reuben, University of Idaho graduate: “Guiding Resiliency Through Poetry;” Kurt Ikeda, Minidoka National Historic Site: “Minidoka: Art During the WWII Incarceration of Japanese Americans;” and Izzy, Nez Perce/Afro-American Rapper: “Scribes of a Prophet – a Rap Presentation and Discussion,” moderated by Bob Santelli.

Participants received institute texts and an electronic compilation of other pertinent primary and secondary readings. The institute texts were: How to Love a Country by Richard Blanco; Songs of America:  Patriotism, Protest, and the Music that Made a Nation by Jon Meacham and Tim McGraw; The Hill We Climb:  An Inaugural Poem for the Country by Amanda Gorman; and Of Poetry and Protest: From Emmett Till to Treyvon Martin by Philip Cushway and Michael Warr.

Attendees of IHC's 2021 Institute
Scholar presenters leading the daily discussions included Carolyn González, California State University Monterey Bay; Major Jackson, Vanderbilt University; Jan Johnson, University of Idaho; Margaret Johnson, Idaho State University; and Bob Santelli, Director, Grammy Museum.



Sample Evaluation Comments:

The theme of this year’s institute was so timely given the events of the last few years!

I tell all my colleagues that this week is like a vacation for my brain. It’s full of great activities and expert scholars, people with a real passion for their subject. It’s a multifaceted, multicultural smorgasbord of learning.

I enjoyed the learning and the camaraderie and am grateful for IHC’s ongoing commitment to substantive and inspirational professional development.

I have more material than I know what to do with. And that is great. This week has fed my mind and my heart and inspired me to do more to challenge what people are afraid of. Thank you for providing me with more historical understandings and connections.

Super impactful. In a word, it made me think more deeply about things that I already think very deeply about. The institute always leaves me with new things to bring to my classroom, and this one was no different. I know that my students are hungry for relevant and interesting information – and this conference more than delivered on that.

This institute has been amazing: so instructive, so eye-opening. It’s something I can bring back to my students and show them, concretely, that I’m still learning like them–that we’re all just life-long learners–and that we can break through our ignorance together if we’re willing to expend the effort. I’m so excited to sign up for the future institutes that will have the most relevance to my teaching subject.

This institute was a highlight of my summer and the last five years of my teaching career! I have not attended a more applicable and enjoyable conference where I have left educated, enriched, and excited to share the learned knowledge in a long time. My teacher’s heart needed to hear the messages as well as an opportunity to make connections with other educators.