Carnegie Council has curated ten of our favorite primary sources for students to analyze and interpret in the American history, global history, and philosophy classrooms. They focus on 20th century history and include diaries, speeches, and articles. Click here for the full list or for a curated list relating to ethics and war and peacemaking and social justice.
Best of 100 for 100:
Visiting Mahatma Gandhi, 1929
In 1928-29, Henry Atkinson, president of the Church Peace Union (now Carnegie Council) took a five-month trip through Asia to meet with religious leaders and persuade them to work together for world peace. In this fascinating excerpt from his travel diary he records his visit with Mahatma Gandhi, who is very welcoming and gracious, but skeptical.
The Other China: Hunger Part I—The Three Red Flags of Death (1976)
Ivan D. London, Miriam London
Up to to 43 million people died in China's famine of 1959-61, but few knew about it until decades later. Yet the information was there. From 1965-75, the Londons interviewed Chinese refugees and reported on the real story. It's hard to comprehend millions of deaths. These vivid and distressing interview excerpts bring it home.
A New Sense of Direction (1968)
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. King gave this speech just a few months before his assassination and it is his last thorough evaluation of the movement. Still sadly relevant, he discusses U.S. racism, injustice, and militarism, and despite all, reaffirms his commitment to non-violence.
Mission to Hanoi
In February 1968, peace activists Father Daniel Berrigan and historian Howard Zinn flew to Hanoi to obtain the release of three American prisoners of war. Here are Berrigan's notes from that historic trip. "The mission is calculated to outrage some on both sides," he writes.
On the Moral Implications of Torture and Exemplary Assassination
Paul W. Blackstock
First published in May 1970 during the Vietnam War, this WORLDVIEW magazine article is just as relevant today.
An Ambassador's Reflections on a Bloodbath
Thomas Patrick Melady
Everyone knows of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, when Hutus massacred Tutsis. But few have heard of the 1972 genocide in neighboring Burundi, when Tutsis slaughtered 80,000-210,000 Hutus. U.S. Ambassador Melady was an eyewitness. In this 1974 article, he discusses Burundi and other countries where hostile groups live side by side.
The New Dimensions of Human Rights
"The interface between ethics and science will hence be the new frontier of politics—the third new dimension of human rights," warns Zbigniew Brzezinski in this 1995 lecture. Increasingly, politics is likely to be dominated by ethical dilemmas stimulated by science's potential for reshaping the very nature of the human being.
Ethical Issues for Today (1996)
What is the difference between ethics and law? Unlike the law, ethics involves other people, says Elie Wiesel, in this powerful, moving, and wide-ranging talk in 1996. We must be sensitive to the needs of others and constantly ask ourselves if we are doing enough to stand up for victims and care for others, both compatriots and strangers.
Human Rights and Asian Values
Human rights are neither a uniquely Western phenomenon nor a hindrance to economic development, the charges usually leveled against those who seek to implement human rights in Asia. In this valuable 1997 lecture, Amartya Sen points to intellectual strands within Asian thought that value human rights.
Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda
Roméo A. Dallaire, Joanne J. Myers
Dallaire recalls the agony of not being able to take action to halt the Rwandan genocide because he lacked the requisite authority as well as manpower and equipment. In essence, he lacked the support of the international community.