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"Hyphenated Americans": When “Bricklayer Bill” Won the 1917 Boston Marathon, It Was a Victory For All Irish Americans

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Language Arts And English +7 Age Level High School (16 to 18 years old)

This collection explores the notion of hyphenated Americans, through the story of one man, William Kennedy, an American of Irish descent, born in New York in the late 19th century, who went on to win the Boston Marathon in 1918. Bill's nephew, in writing about his uncle, said, "When “Bricklayer Bill” Won the 1917 Boston Marathon, It Was a Victory For All Irish Americans." What did he mean?

To aid discussion, included in this collection are images, a cartoon, several articles, a story fro WBUR, and one thinking routine from Harvard's Project Zero Global Thinking - "Step In, Step Out, Step Back" - to "encourage learners to take other people’s perspectives, recognize that understanding others is an ongoing process, and understand that our efforts to take perspective can reveal as much about ourselves as they can about the people we are seeking to understand."

This collection complements chapter 6 ("The Flight From Ireland") of Ronald Takaki's A Different Mirror for Young People: A History of Multicultural America, and supports Unit 2: What is the history?, and Unit 3: Local History and Current Issues, of the Austin ISD Ethnic Studies Part B course. 

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