Finally, I developed a curriculum on the history of hip-hop culture to prepare students for college–they learned to navigate through lengthy news and feature articles and opinion pieces.
They analyzed music videos as well as documentaries.
One of my greatest concerns as an educator is students understand the importance of knowing history.
Without knowledge of history, how can our students understand themselves?
For the next four years, my students read poems such as Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “We Wear the Mask” to understand the concept of double consciousness.
And we read novels such as Their Eyes Were Watching God and The Color Purple to understand the limitations as well as motivations of African-Americans during the Jim Crow Era.
During a visit to the Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center, one of my students was able to visualize the trepidation associated with taking a literacy exam in order to vote.
Another was able to read actual newspaper articles written about Rosa Parks’ arrest.
That’s how people learn the humanity of others–by learning about their struggles and their joys.
Now that I work in an different educational environment, my ability to teach African-American history has changed drastically.