Robert Mayer, Robert H. Mayer, robert mayer author
Jan Muzyczka.
Robert H. Mayer.

Educators That Rock!: Robert H. Mayer

November 01, 2010
by findingDulcinea Staff
At the National Council for the Social Studies conference in November 2009, the Carter G. Woodson Book Awards honored Dr. Robert H. Mayer for his book, “When the Children Marched: The Birmingham Civil Rights Movement.” Mayer was recognized for “accurately and sensitively” portraying an issue related to ethnic minorities.

FindingEducation spoke to Mayer about locating primary documents, understanding “historical thinking” and examining the civil rights movement. Images of the African-American children that were marched to jail, decades earlier, still resonate for Mayer. “They experienced the degradation of segregation as much as their parents. So to see in their faces the lack of fear—it just says a lot,” he explained. A social studies teacher for 12 years and a professor at Moravian University since 1987, Mayer also authored “The Civil Rights Act of 1964,” and numerous essays on teaching.

fE: What sparked your interest in history?

RHM: I’ve always had some kind of interest in history. As a child, I always enjoyed reading about things in the past. I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and I remember reading about William Henry Harrison, the ninth U.S. president, and being fascinated, because his statue was downtown by the library.

fE: Can you describe the process of writing “When the Children Marched” and “The Civil Rights Act of 1964”?

RHM: The process was different for the two books. For the civil rights book, I edited it. I found primary statements from the time about the Civil Rights Act and then wrote introductions for various articles. And for ”When the Children Marched,” I wrote the entire thing. I used oral histories and also newspapers, because I wanted to get a stronger sense of the time, and what the events in Birmingham were before I began actually organizing the book. The similarity is that before I start writing, I really read as much as I can, and I study as hard as I can. For both books, I read deeply in primary documents.

Read the rest of the Q&A with Robert H. Mayer at findingEducation's Digital Teachers' Lounge.

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