America’s Hallowed Ground Team Shares Vision for K12 Curriculum at Bass Connections Showcase

A group of smiling people pose for a picture.
Members of the America’s Hallowed Ground Bass pose in front of their table at the Fortin Foundation Bass Connections showcase. From left to right, curriculum designer Kendall Surfus, Duke University sophomore Irma Lopez, co-director Mike Wiley, Duke University Master of Public Policy student Crystal Card, and co-director Charlie Thompson. Photo credit: Sarah Rogers.

What do we mean when we say “hallowed ground”?

A signature program of the Kenan Institute for Ethics, America’s Hallowed Ground works with communities to tell the stories of sites connected to broader conflicts and struggles in American history. Often, these stories are about moments when America has fallen short of its ideals — like equality, justice, and democracy. In a term inspired by Lincoln’s Gettyburg Address, the sites are “hallowed” by the sacrifices of those who fought for these ideals — or were harmed by others’ attempts to subvert them.

One of these sites is in Wilmington, North Carolina, where white supremacists overturned the city government and massacred Black citizens in 1898. In a 2023 workshop, an array of professional artists associated with America’s Hallowed Ground, including muralist Cornelio Campos, led Wilmington community members in unpacking the painful legacies of 1898 through painting, movement, song, visual arts, and writing.

Through a 2023–2024 Bass Connections project, America’s Hallowed Ground is creating curricular materials for 7 through 12th graders, aiming to help students connect with the past through the power of the multidisciplinary arts. As co-director Mike Wiley has noted, the arts are not only a powerful way of teaching us about the past: they help us to remember it, often far more so than assigned readings, lectures, and quizzes. By taking part in virtual artist workshops, students can explore the meaning of historical sites in their own communities, deepening their connections to their homes, to our nation’s past, and, hopefully, to our nation’s future.

Watch the America’s Hallowed Ground Bass Connections Team talk about this project in the video below.