Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Florida International University have for a number of years now been collaborating on program designed to encourage teaching professionals to earn a Master’s degree from the university while only incurring the cost of incidental fees, textbooks, and other related materials. Twenty of these teachers are currently enrolled in my Readings in American History: The Great Depression & New Deal Era course being taught at the Modesto Maidique campus at FIU this semester. This weekend, two of those ambitious students braved the South Beach parking nightmare and visited the Wolfsonian museum to learn more about the New Deal era.
Michael Littman drove out to the museum on Friday evening to one of our public programming events—a screening of the documentary Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story, followed by a question and answer session with the producer and director, Andrea Kalin of Spark Media. Renowned author and activist, Stetson Kennedy was also on hand to answer questions from the audience. Mr. Kennedy, who was featured in the film, had joined the WPA Florida Writers’ Project at age 21 and served as editor, oral history and folklore collector. Mr. Littman was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with Mr. Kennedy and to have him autograph one of his books which he had brought with him.
Mr. Littman returned to the Wolfsonian today in order to begin researching his final project—a virtual exhibit that will compare some of the similar programs enacted by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the United States, Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany, Benito Mussolini in Fascist Italy, and Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union. He was joined in the main reading room by another teacher enrolled in the pilot Masters program, Brian Orfall who is interested in using our original holdings related to the infamous Scottsboro race trial, the International Labor Defense, lynchings, and other civil rights agitation in the 1930s.