Making Connections: Multicultural Teaching and the National Humanities Center's Library of Primary Resources

Article excerpt

The four preceding articles range over wide swaths of history. Sharonda Allen's lesson on ancestral connections carries us back to early African civilizations. Paula Marie Seniors' comparison of forced labor and slavery sweeps through four centuries of the American past. The work of Rebecca M. Giles and Alicia L. Moore deals chiefly with the Civil Rights Movement, while Cleopatra Warren's service learning project takes a broad view of the United States in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries.

In each case the National Humanities Center's library of primary resources could be used to enrich both teachers' and students' understanding of the topic being studied.

Teachers and students pursuing the lines of inquiry suggested in Ms. Allen's lesson on African heritage might examine the "Freedom" section of "The Making of African American Identity: Volume I, 1500-1865." (1) There they will be able to explore ways in which the peoples of west and central Africa, many of whom became African Americans, lived their lives before the Atlantic slave trade began.

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To enrich Ms. Senior's comparative study, teachers and students might turn to the material on Spanish missions and the Spanish imposition of slavery found in the "Settlement" section of "American Beginnings: 1492-1690." (2) This material might profitably be compared with African American accounts of slavery found in the "Enslavement" section of volume I of "The Making of African American Identity." (3)

The survey research of Professors Giles and Moore reveals a distressing lack of knowledge about twentieth-century African American history on the part of the very people who are supposed to teach it. Teacher educators who decide to heed the call for greater emphasis on content might direct students to all three volumes of "The Making of African American Identity", but especially to volume III, (4) which covers the period from 1917 to 1968. There they will encounter resources that illuminate the ways in which twentieth-century African Americans combated segregation, built communities, and redefined what it means to be Black. …