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Volume I: African Americans Impacts


A PAST AND PRESENT INTERWOVEN: HOW THE AFRICAN IDENTITY REEMERGED IN AFRICAN-AMERICAN ARTS
RUTH BEDEIAN
John Minadeo

This visual arts unit focuses on retentions of African cultural traditions in the art and artifacts of enslaved Africans in their new circumstance in America. Slavery by its very nature sought to stamp out all traces of the past legacy of the African and force the enslaved to accept their new roles and identities. The visual arts however, played a key role in the spiritual life of most African societies and thus this cultural urge could not be subdued even though it may have been sublimated. By examining the crafts works created by slaves we find the cultural legacy regenerated in new improvised forms. The traditions include pottery, basketry, woodworking, metal-crafts and textile arts which is the main focus of this unit. As the discussion proves African found way to make do and remake their traditions in the new world.


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The Gullah People: Their Culture and How It Contributed to the Civil Rights Movement
Lea Blumenfeld
Fulton French Academy and Lincoln Elementary Technology Academy Intermediate Campus

The purpose of this unit is to explore the topic, “The Gullah People, Their Culture and How It Contributed to the Civil Rights Movement.” An overriding theme will be the cultural geography and African heritage of the people, showing how both their heritage and habitat helped to determine their social practices. This curriculum will be presented as an as an interdisciplinary unit in the library classroom with the social studies, language arts, mathematics, art, and music classes involved. Our children in the Pittsburgh Public Schools are familiar with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, but they have little or no knowledge of the other people who were the impetus and the driving force for the modern Civil Rights Movement. This unit will help to fill in the gaps for them. My target audience will be mostly grades five and eight.


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Youth Participation in and Contribution to the Civil Rights Movement and a Look at the Relevance of Today’s Local Pittsburgh Agencies Promoting the Success of Youth
Jessica Colbert
Langley High School

The Civil Rights Movement has been defined as the reform movement in the United States aimed at abolishing racial discrimination of African Americans. I would like to believe that our social studies classes are addressing the Movement in the studies of Civics, African-American History, US History etc. What may be less apparent is the participation of youth in this movement. Children were often the heart and soul of civil disobedience. They were enmeshed in sit-ins, voter registration, and bus boycotts. They often came to the front lines with their mothers who also participated and are often not recognized. Youth saw, first hand, the value of the Civil Rights Movement. There are many unsung heroes of the time, especially the children. This unit will introduce the students to an element of the Movement they likely do not know much about, the youth involvement.

This curriculum unit will also explore the current social justice organizations in existence today in Pittsburgh, many run by and for African-American youth. These organizations include Urban Youth Action, Youth Places, Youth Works, One Vision One Life, Community Empowerment Association, Voices Against Violence, Homewood YMCA Community Outreach, Next Generation, One Step, Community Intensive Supervision Program (CISP), 100 Black Men of Western PA, CLAAY Program, Mother to Son, One Hood and others. Following our study of the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement we will segue into whether African-Americans have civil rights today or not and what does that look like? We will discuss all the current great black leaders of the above mentioned organizations as role models in the continued fight for equality and opportunity.


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Our Stories, Our History
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry: Mississippi in the 1930s through Historical Fiction
A Middle-School Unit
Kipp Dawson
Colfax Accelerated Learning Academy

Through a study of Mildred Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, this unit introduces middle-school students simultaneously to historical fiction as a genre, and to historical writing and research as parallel and corollary sources. The unit presents lessons designed to broaden students’ appreciation and understanding of a particular historical time and place -- in this case, rural Mississippi in the mid-1930s -- as well as of the varied and mutually-reinforcing ways to approach historical inquiry and writing. Using historical fiction and historical research simultaneously, students will learn an appreciation of both, as well as a sense of how each can reinforce the other.


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The Pursuit of Happiness: African American Achievements During Reconstruction
Jane Dirks
Brashear High School

The objective of this curriculum unit is for students to understand and appreciate the contributions of black Americans to American culture during the period of Reconstruction after the Civil War (1865-1877). The unit is appropriate for students of eleventh grade U.S. History, whose scope and sequence includes the post-Civil War period. It is particularly useful for students taking AP History, as it includes a critical perspective on the writing of history and the analysis of primary source documents. Students will become familiar with the political leaders who emerged during this time, as well as the context of black leadership in education, religion, economics and family life. Students will also critically analyze the previous scholarship on the Reconstruction Period, which misrepresented the power and potential for democratic participation which black Americans, many of who were newly-freed slaves, experienced during Reconstruction. Though many of the opportunities for black Americans were reversed with the end of Reconstruction and the coming of Jim Crow laws and an increase in racist violence, it is important for students to learn about and value the remarkable achievements of black Americans during this crucial period in American history.


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The Music of African Americans and its Influence on the American
Culture in the 1960’s and 1970’s
Arthur Powell
Miller African Centered Academy

This curriculum focuses on a section of African American music called “Funk”. It will present some of the icons and innovators of this style along with their philosophies concerning the concept of funk. The musical and social impact of this music will be considered. The influence of funk on subsequent styles from jazz to disco to rock and musicians from Prince to The Red Hot Chili Peppers will be discussed.


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The African American Culture: the History and Performance of Gospel Music
Ella C. Wilder Slaughter, NBCT
Taylor Allederdice High School

The curriculum unit that I have selected is entitled, “African American Culture: The Performance of Gospel Music.” The purpose of the unit is to share some historical background on the African American culture and the evolution of gospel music. The curriculum is also designed to serve as a standards-based guide for vocal music educators.


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BAM and Company: Renaissance, Rights, Power and Art
Renee C. Tolliver
David B. Oliver High School

Students will research the Black Arts Movement and complete a comprehensive project that includes a brief review of the characteristics of the literature of the Harlem Renaissance and the Civil Rights Movement which preceded the Black Arts Movement. Students will also learn about the Black Power Movement which encompassed the Black Arts Movement. In addition, students will research the contributors to the BAM and look at the works of the Black Arts Movement that are included in the tenth grade core curriculum. This includes “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara and “We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks. We will study these pieces at the culmination of the larger unit. We will use Crossing the Danger Water, an anthology of writings by African American writers as a major resource. The activities presented in this unit will facilitate the students’ understanding of cultural geography, the use of African American vernacular English, class consciousness and the use of literature as activism.


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Chatham University
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Jointly sponsored by Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University and the Pittsburgh Public Schools.
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