Three Milton students, Jana Amin ’21, Will Bourell ’23, and Elliot Smith ’22, joined 12 of their peers across the country in creating and producing UnTextbooked, a podcast exploring the real effects of history now and in the future.
“We created UnTextbooked to help address the incomplete narrative found in many history textbooks and to find answers to big questions,” Smith said. “Each of the 15 episodes features one teen podcaster, one book, and one famous historian.”
Smith’s episode, “How a Black teenager and his young lawyer changed the criminal justice system,” features an interview with the historian Matthew Van Meter, author of Deep Delta Justice: A Black Teen, His Lawyer, and Their Groundbreaking Battle for Civil Rights in the South. Van Meter’s book chronicles the wrongful 1966 arrest of Gary Duncan in Plaquemines, Louisiana and the era’s Civil Rights battles; Duncan’s case, argued by attorney Richard Sobol, reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that states must honor requests for jury trials by defendants in criminal cases.
“This podcast shows the value of bringing together people with different perspectives to talk about history,” Smith said.
Bourell’s episode, about U.S. foreign policy, features Yale professor Paul Kennedy, author of The Rise and Fall of Great Powers. Amin’s episode, about the role of gender in revolution, features Leila Ahmed, author of Women & Gender in Islam. Other historians featured in the series include Deirdre Cooper Owens, who spoke about the history of slavery and racism in gynecological developments; Sabine Lang, on the subject of gender expression beyond the male/female binary; and General Stanley McChrystal, who discussed the myths and realities behind leaders throughout history.
The UnTextbooked student podcasters were assisted in the project by Fernande Raine P’21, ’26 and ‘27, the founder of got history?, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reenvisioning history education and encouraging young people to be agents of change. Each episode is hosted by Harvard student Gabriel Hostin. Amin is one of three founders of UnTextbooked, along with Anya Dua, a junior at the Ransom Everglades School in Miami, and Victor Ye, a freshman at the University of Southern California.
All episodes of the first season of UnTextbooked are available now on untextbooked.com as well as podcast platforms like Spotify and Apple Podcasts.