5 TED-Ed Lessons about American power, politics and protests

Liberty walking 3 TED-Ed Blog

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress,” said Frederick Douglass in 1857. “Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.” [Read the full text of this 1857 speech here, and explore books by Frederick Douglass here.] To learn more about US history, watch these 5 TED-Ed Lessons about American power, politics and protests:

1. How to understand power

Every day, we move and operate within systems of power that other people have constructed. But we’re often uncomfortable talking about power. Why? Eric Liu describes the six sources of power and explains how understanding them is key to being an effective citizen. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

2. How is power divided in the United States government?

Articles I-III of the United States Constitution allow for three separate branches of government (legislative, executive, and judicial), along with a system of checks and balances should any branch get too powerful. Belinda Stutzman breaks down each branch and its constitutionally entitled powers. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

3. What you might not know about the Declaration of Independence

In June 1776, a little over a year after the start of the American Revolutionary War, the US Continental Congress huddled together in a hot room in Philadelphia to talk independence. Kenneth C. Davis dives into some of the lesser known facts about the process of writing the Declaration of Independence and questions one very controversial omission. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

4. History vs. Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson was both beloved and loathed during his presidency. In this imaginary courtroom, you get to be the jury, considering and weighing Jackson’s part in the spoils system, economic depression, and the Indian Removal Act, as well as his patriotism and the pressures of the presidency. James Fester explores how time shapes our relationship to controversial historical figures. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

5. How to turn protest into powerful change

We live in an age of protest. On campuses, in public squares, on streets and social media, protestors around the world are challenging the status quo. But while protest is often necessary, is it sufficient? Eric Liu outlines three strategies for peacefully turning awareness into action and protest into durable political power. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

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