Celebrate African-American Art, Music, and Literature
Joseph, Linda C., MultiMedia Schools
[Editor's note: URLs mentioned in this article appear in the chart that follows on p. 38]
Approach Black History from a different perspective. Explore the rich heritage of African Americans through art, music, and literature. Most of our students know the impact of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X. They know rap. But do they know about the Lindy Hop? Have they heard the sounds of W. C. Handy, read first-hand stories from former slaves, or been to an African-American art exhibit? Let the voices of the past speak to our students in a way that will give them a deeper appreciation for African-American culture.
Our history belongs to all of us and ought to be celebrated each and every day ... all cultures add their strength to the fabric, if only we are open to the possibility of diversity. Here is a good vehicle to deliver a year-long cultural theme.
A Journey Through Art with W. H. Johnson
William Johnson (1901-1970), a major figure in 20th-century American Art, studied at the National Academy of Design in New York. Prior to World War II he spent time learning from European artists in southern France. You are invited to journey through a chronological timeline of Johnson's works. In this series of colorful paintings, you can observe how his style evolved. The "Fighters for Freedom" collection depicts famous men and women who were leaders in the quest for racial equality. In "Scenes from City Life and Country Life," universal themes are portrayed that touch the human spirit. Activities for elementary students, such as creating a self-portrait, planning a make-believe trip, or writing a story about one of the paintings, accompany each page.
Breaking Racial Barriers: African Americans in the Harmon Foundation
During the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, William E. Harmon established a foundation to recognize African American achievements. In 1944, "Portraits of Outstanding Americans of Negro Origins" traveled around the country with the goal of reversing racial intolerance. Twenty of the original 50 portraits are presented in this National Portrait Gallery collection. Paul Robeson, James Weldon Johnson, and Mary Church Terrell are a few of the individuals represented.
Tour this unique gallery by wandering through a 3-D visual that allows you to feel as though you are actually there. Click on a painting and you are given a close-up view. Click again and a larger image with information about the artist appears.
Stamp on Black History
Beginning in 1940, African Americans were recognized on U.S. postage stamps for their contributions and achievements in a variety of areas. This beautiful collection contains a picture of each stamp and information about the featured individual. There are word searches, puzzles, coloring pages, recipes, writing, and math activities that tie-in to the curriculum. Spark the interest of your reluctant students by visiting this fun site.
Web of Life: The Art of John Biggers
Critically acclaimed artist John Biggers, whose works include the "Upper Room," "Starry Crown," and "Family Unity," is the focus of this wonderful online presentation titled the Web of Life. Read about the artist's life and his eventual journey to Africa that transformed his work. View dozens of his drawings and paintings in the galleries section. In addition, there are hands-on activities for elementary and secondary students that will stretch their minds from mere observation to understanding the complex symbolic themes of Biggers' works. This exhibit, along with a corollary unit, African-American Art, is sponsored by the Getty Education Institute for Arts at their ArtsEdNet Website.
Archives of Early Lindy Hop
Have you ever wondered where swing began? Or the jitterbug? Look no further. In the 1920s, the Savoy in Harlem was home to the Lindy Hop, a popular dance that was soon emulated around the country. Learn about its history, the dancers, and the movies that made it famous.
Black History Music-Detroit Free Press
A timeline of Black music from the 1600s to rap is provided by the Detroit Free Press. Click on the timeline and information pops up on that particular era. This is a nice, quick reference for students.
The Blues: An Historical Tour
Magical is the word that describes the content in this historical look at Blues artists. Listen to the voice and music of W. C. Handy, father of the blues. Images of sheet music, photographs, and documentation of the lives of hundreds of blues artists will delight any student studying the history of African-American musicians. Although there are no lessons, teachers will enjoy developing activities around this wealth of material.
Brief History of Zydeco
Creoles of African descent brought their music to Louisiana in the 1600s. The music evolved in the early 1800s with the introduction of the accordion by the Germans. Read this fascinating page for more details and the differences between Creole and Cajun.
Hundreds of lyrics, including ragtime, gospel, spiritual, and blues music, can be found in the Digital Folk Song database featured at this Web site. Many of the songs have a midi file so you can listen to the tune.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Don't miss the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Check out the audio clips about such greats as Muddy Waters, James Brown, Mahalia Jackson, and Tina Turner. Numerous lessons on a variety of themes are available. It is easier to locate information on this site if you use the search and browse features.
Sitting for Justice
Songs without context mean nothing to students who were not around at the time the events took place. The Smithsonian obtained the Woolworth's lunch counter where the 1960 Greensboro civil rights sit-ins took place and added it to their National Museum of American History collections. The two-part online presentation tells the story that made this lunch counter a valuable piece of history. Included in part one are three audio clips of songs from the Civil Rights Movement: "We Shall Not Be Moved," "We Shall Overcome," and "Oh Freedom."
African-American Women Writers of the l9th Century
African-American Women Writers of the 19th Century is a digital treasure-trove of some 52 published works by l9th-century black women writers. Until the Civil Rights movement, most of these works were unknown, but thanks to the Schomburg Center these poems, essays, and books are available as full text online. Read and enjoy the viewpoints of these women on topics ranging from religion to family life. Selections include Hallie Q. Brown's "Homespun Heroines" and Phyllis Wheatley's "Poems." Each title or the entire database can be searched.
Afro-American Myths and Fables
"Why Crocodile Has a Rough Back" and "The Lion and the Hare" are two examples from a marvelous collection of myths and fables. Each story begins with a statement on its origin. Elementary children will love the illustrations while reading the stories.
American Slave Narratives
Over 2,300 former slaves were interviewed between 1936 and 1938 under the Works Progress Administration. Samples of these narratives are provided at this Web site along with photographs taken at the time of the interview. Much insight can be gained from the first-hand experiences of these individuals by carefully examining their stories.
Lady Freedom Among Us
Rita Dove's poem, "Lady Freedom Among Us," celebrates the statue "Freedom" that sits atop the Capitol Building in Washington, DC. You can listen while she reads the poem, see the illustrations by Claire Van Vliet, and download an MPEG movie showing a 360 degree view of the pop-up statue in the book.
Phat African American Poetry Book
Representative works of 25 African-American poets make up this collection. Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Countee Cullen, and Gwendolyn Brooks are a few of the notables. Pictures and links to other sites are included.
Did you know Virginia Hamilton collects frogs? Visit her Web site and contribute a frog joke or listen to hers. Hamilton's personality certainly shines through as she tells her own story and describes a picture taken of her at age five. You can also find the latest about her books and upcoming publications. Be sure to e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LESSONS AND ACTIVITIES
African Art and Culture, Grades 1-3
These lessons in theater, music, and the visual arts provide comprehensive objectives, methods, materials, and evaluation procedures.
Black History, Grades 9-12
Several ideas for projects, bulletin boards, and community service are listed at this Web site.
Black History Month: Past to Present, Grades 4-6
IBM has developed Web-based activities geared around specific Web sites.
Education First: Black History Activities
Pacific Bell's Education First team member, Tom March, created five activities for utilizing the Web and videoconferencing to support different kinds of learning activities. There is a hotlist of links for research, a WebQuest for understanding the Tuskegee tragedy, a series of activities sampling African America, an interactive treasure hunt about Black History, and ideas for utilizing videoconferencing.
Harriet Tubman Integrated Unit, Grades 2-6
Through warm-ups, introductory, and guided practice activities, students can work collaboratively to complete products about Harriet Tubman. These might be presented using hyperstudio or other media. Rubrics for evaluating projects are provided.
Jazz Talk, Grades 6-8, 9-12
Explore the history of African-American music through the activities prepared by the Discovery Channel School. Listen to RealAudio clips of slave songs, gospel, and blues. Then add today's popular music and make comparisons. This is an excellent introduction for any humanities teacher.
OWARE: THE NATIONAL GAME OF AFRICA
Awale: The Art of African Game
Oware (pronounced oh-wah-ruh) is a game that has its origins in Ethiopia. There are a number of variations including Awale and Wari. The game is played with a hollow wood plank and some stones or seeds. Because it is a strategy game, you may want to tie it into problemsolving lessons. Two versions are available on the Web. Oware, a freeware version based on DOS, will run under Windows 95 or higher. Awale, an elegant shareware program, is designed for both Macintosh and Windows. A trial copy can be downloaded for review.
After you have plugged in to these great Web sites, think about ways you can use community resources as well. Bring in a dance group, take a field trip to a museum, or videoconference with an author. Then, watch imaginations soar when your students produce their own creative works.
Be sure to visit the MULTIMEDIA SCHOOLS home page
by Linda C. Joseph, Media Specialist
Columbus Public Schools
Linda Joseph is the author of World Link: An Internet Guide for Educators, Parents, and Students, published by Greyden Press. The recipient of numerous awards, in addition to her work in the Columbus Public Schools, Linda is a part-time instructor for Ohio State University. Communications to the author may be addressed to her at Columbus Public Schools, 737 East Hudson Street, Columbus, OH 43211; 614/365-5277; ljoseph@ freenet.columbus.oh.us.…
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Celebrate African-American Art, Music, and Literature. Contributors: Joseph, Linda C. - Author. Magazine title: MultiMedia Schools. Volume: 6. Issue: 1 Publication date: January/February 1999. Page number: 30+. © Not available. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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