Margaret Lincoln, a Holocaust-teaching dynamo from Battle Creek, has been educating people around the state for years.
Three years ago, Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law legislation that mandated Michigan schools provide at least six hours of instruction about genocide to students between grades 8-12. After the signing, Snyder stated: “Teaching the students of Michigan about genocide is important because we should remember and learn about these terrible events in our past while continuing to work toward creating a more tolerant society.” These are words of wisdom about an idea that we, and our civic leaders, should keep in mind every day.
Of course, the Holocaust is one of the prime topics taught within the larger subject of genocide. In many ways, Michigan Jews have led the way in Holocaust studies. For example, the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills celebrated its 35th anniversary this year. It opened nine years before the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Since 1981, for another example, the University of Michigan-Dearborn has interviewed Holocaust survivors and preserved these oral histories in the university’s Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive.
But, what about Holocaust studies outside of Metro Detroit, which holds the largest Jewish population in the state and the largest number of survivors? Well, there is plenty of activity around the state, but I would like to tell you about a Holocaust-teaching dynamo from Battle Creek with whom I have recently become acquainted. Margaret “Gigi” Lincoln has been teaching about the Holocaust in Battle Creek and around the nation for a long, long time.
Lincoln and her husband, Gary, moved to Battle Creek in 1973. Since that time, she has been a library media specialist with the Lakeview School District. Lincoln holds a bachelor’s degree in French and a M.L.S. from the University of Michigan, as well as other assorted graduate classes and certificates from Arizona State University, Michigan State University, Columbia and Syracuse universities, and a Ph.D. in information science from the University of North Texas. I’ll run out of space if I list all her presentations, articles, projects and awards for her work in information science, media and instruction in the Battle Creek area, as well as in state and national forums.
What stands out in Lincoln’s rather lengthy resume, however, is her work with Holocaust studies. Since 2002, she has been a U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum teacher fellow, and at least from that time until today, Lincoln has been heavily involved in Holocaust education.
In the July 9, 2004, issue of the JN, then-Editor Robert Sklar wrote about her, citing an online presentation in which Lincoln wrote: “Today’s high school students and their parents were not alive at the time of the Holocaust. Through appropriately designed learning activities, they can be alerted to the vigilance necessary to prevent the reoccurrence of a similar tragedy.”
Indeed, this is a cogent, succinct rational for Holocaust and genocide studies. It took another 14 years before Michigan legislators reached the same conclusion. Since this time, Lincoln has also studied other genocidal situations such as those in Rwanda and, most recently, in Myanmar.
I should also mention that Gigi and Gary Lincoln are part of a small but active Jewish community in Battle Creek. They are members of Temple Beth El (point of interest: Beth El was vandalized last year. The JN ran a story about this in its Dec. 13, 2018, issue).
It is an old adage that a single person can indeed make a difference. Want proof of this? Spend some time with Gigi Lincoln.
Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.