Dear Readers, as of today, The Zamani Reader is officially two years old! A couple of weeks ago, I dug back into the archives and found my first blog post. It was posted on February 1, 2014. The post was called “The Columbian Question: A Call for a Plebiscite on Columbus Day.” It was a reflection on the controversy that surrounds the US holiday Columbus Day, with a list of three ways that Americans can respond to the annual celebrations. You can read that article by clicking on the link above. Suffice to say, it does not seem like our approach to Columbus Day has changed very much since I published that piece. Of course, we have not changed the name of the holiday; yet, as a nation, we continue to welcome its yearly arrival with a mixture of irony, banality, and indifference.
Since today is the two-year anniversary of TZR, I wanted to take a brief moment and reflect on the blog’s origins. First, there is no doubting that this blog would not have been started if I hadn’t ended up pursuing my master’s degree at Loyola University Chicago. As many people know, the History Department at Loyola University emphasizes “public history,” an innovative approach to the study of history based upon fostering sustained engagement between professionals and non-professionals. Loyola University offers one of the most unique History programs in the entire nation. While most History programs base their curriculum on a standard model of reading and then discussing a seemingly endless list of books written by practitioners of History, Loyola requires its students to do work that is much more versatile. Most importantly, teachers encourage their students to build connections with local people and non-academics in nearby communities.