In this lesson, students analyze Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration of the Negro Panel no. 57 (1940-41), Helene Johnson’s Harlem Renaissance poem “Sonnet to a Negro in Harlem” (1927), and Paul Laurence Dunbar’s late-nineteenth-century poem “We Wear the Mask” (1896), considering how each work represents the life and changing roles of African Americans from the late nineteenth century to the Harlem Renaissance and The Great Migration.
In this lesson, students analytically read “Learning to Read,” a poem by Francis Watkins Harper about an elderly former slave which conveys the value of literacy to blacks during and after slavery. The activities help students examine the experiences of slaves, the history of literacy, and 21st century values on the power of reading.
Kerry James Marshall's painting Voyager, depicting two partially obscured Black figures standing aboard a ship, refers to an actual ship, Wanderer, which was among the last slave ships in the United States, illegally transporting more than 400 individuals from West Africa to Georgia in 1858—even though the importation of enslaved people had been banned in 1808. Use the painting as an entry point to discuss the Transatlantic slave trade and introduce students to the NEH-funded database Slave Voyages project.
Use Aaron Douglas’s mural Into Bondage to introduce the stories of famous Harlem Renaissance figures, including Langston Hughes, and to explore the history and importance of Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the end of Black enslavement in the United States.
By examining The Dove by artist Romare Bearden, students will learn to appreciate the artistic and intellectual achievement of Black artists in America in the first half of the 20th century. By listening to music, students will see how art and music intersect to tell us a story. They will relate that story to their own lives.
In 2017, 144 skyscrapers (towers at least 660 feet tall) joined the skylines of 69 cities across the globe—a record that will likely be broken again before the end of 2018. This inquiry-based lesson combines individual investigations of primary resources and visual media with group analysis to investigate the following inquiry: How is the evolution of the American skyscraper related to broader themes of modern U.S. history, economics, and culture?
This lesson discusses the differences between common representations of Native Americans within the U.S. and a more differentiated view of historical and contemporary cultures of five American Indian tribes living in different geographical areas. Students will learn about customs and traditions such as housing, agriculture, and ceremonial dress for the Tlingit, Dinè, Lakota, Muscogee, and Iroquois peoples.
Students study the interaction between environment and culture as they learn about three vastly different indigenous groups in a game-like activity that uses vintage photographs, traditional stories, photos of artifacts, and recipes.
For many people, Timbuktu is a metaphor for the mysterious, the remote, or the unobtainable. But the Malian city of Timbuktu was, in fact, once a thriving center of commerce and intellectual activity. In the lessons of this curriculum unit, students will learn about the geography of Mali and the early trade networks that flourished there. They will study how the spread of Islam influenced the cultures and economies along the Niger River. They will find out about the three kingdoms that evolved in ancient and medieval West Africa.