Friday, March 1, 2019

A Fresh Perspective on Black History Month


Each year, educators observe Black History Month. Looking for a fresh perspective, I researched works of contemporary artists and found Loveis Wise's vivid representation of Black History Month at the Poetry Foundation. Her artwork above showcases a diverse group of Black Americans looking backward into their ancestors' past while others contemplate the future. I paired this drawing with Latorial Faison's powerful poem, What is Black History?, to create a multi-dimensional lesson design on Black History for my professional development program. Fashion's reverent reflection is filled with visual imagery spanning centuries that emphasizes the power of story.

What is Black History?
from 28 Days of Poetry Celebrating Black History 3
by Latorial Faison (2012)

It is the dirt road our forefathers trod, 
Memories of their lives branded in our hearts. 
It is a word, a place, a state of mind. 
Black history is a peek into our ancestors' time. 
    
It is a piece of fabric our grandmothers wore, 
An old rope that our grandfathers lived to deplore. 
It is a slave ship and middle passage over seas. 
Black history is cotton fields and tobacco leaves. 

It is a plantation overseer and back door crumbs, 
Weeping and wailing, a beating of drums. 
It is a troubling truth, an unapologetic past. 
Black history is an entire race struggling to last. 

You can read the lines leading to the last two lines here.

LAST LINES

It is every single experience of our history.
Black history is the story of you and me. 

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While February 28th is the close of Black History Month, historical moments live on as does the following line from Fashion's poem.

Memories of their lives branded in our hearts.

THIS LINE NOW SERVES AS THE STRIKE LINE FOR A GOLDEN SHOVEL POEM I DRAFTED.

When thinking of the past, memories
reveal feelings of
pride, pain, family, and their
legacy in a chain of not-forgotten lives.
Within each happening branded
in retold stories and in
places of prominence, our
memories are held in our hearts
©CV,2019

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I started writing this post after watching Good Morning America the morning of February 28th. Singer, songwriter, and Grammy winner, India Arie, performed a song, What If, honoring Black American trailblazers in history and this became the inspiration behind my design of a multi-faceted lesson that can be delivered during and beyond Black History Month. 

In order to assist our students in becoming culturally literate, we need to present black history as a prominent piece of America's past, present, and future. Contemporary artists, poets, and songwriters are critical deliverers of the message.



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This post will serve a dual role as I offer it to the writing communities of
Poetry Friday and Two Writing Teachers.

Poetry Friday is hosted this week by a true poetry lover, blogger, and writer, Linda Baie, my friend from Denver. Linda's interest in anagrams has led her to grow a poem for spring. Join me at her blog post, TeacherDance to be delighted by her word choice and rearrangements that will surely brighten your winter days. 



Two Writing Teachers is launching their Slice of Life Story Challenge 2019 for the month of March. There are already 213 educators who have posted their blogs at the site. My series will be titled March Musings 2019.

17 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Kimberly, for joining me here. I appreciate your comments. I must admit that I had many rewrites on my golden shovel poem.

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  2. The painting is beautiful, Carol. Thanks for sharing Lovela Wise's work & then the poem by Latorial Falson, "Black history is our legacy of triumph without fear." I've seen much that wants Black History month to be every month as well it should be, and recently read about Carter Woodson, someone I did not know of. "Memories can be held in our hearts" when we search for them! Lovely poem from you, too!

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    1. Linda, thanks for always writing such comprehensive replies to our PF community and being the gracious host today. I was pleased to see another Black History trailblazer to explore. Researching Carter Woodson, I found several student-friendly sites, such as https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8Mn2a-7ZYg (your grandgirls may enjoy this animated video).

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  3. Amazing, Carol. I am going to bookmark and keep these ideas. I love your golden shovel and hope I find inspiration for one this March.

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    1. I hope you do try a golden shovel this month, Diane. I must admit that I had to rethink my golden shovel many times to give it the right feel. If you try any of my ideas with your students let me know so I can blog about it at Wonderopolis' Wonder Ground.

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    2. Diane, please send me the link to your blog and your Twitter handle. Thanks.

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  4. Powerful post with lots to think about. Always admire golden shovels.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by to read about my perspective on a Black History lesson.

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  5. Carol, I think fate brought me here today. We just finished our trimester, and I spent it teaching Kindred and a variety of African American poetry, along w/ some Latino and NA lit selections. It was a rewarding experience. We ended w/ art and a creative writing final.

    I love both the poem and art you’ve shared. It saddens me that we often treat black history as a one-off moment instead of giving it a full-throated place in our curriculum.

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    1. We are on the same wavelength, Glenda. If you have a list of your resources, can you please share so I can pass them on to the HS teachers I work with? Your final sounds fascinating. I would love to hear more about it.

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  6. I loved your golden shovel poem, Carol - and thank you for introducing me to the original, as well.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Tara. This golden shovel gave me multiple opportunities to refine it. Sometimes, the flow just needs to work itself out. It's part of the productive struggle. I still have not made my way around PF posts this weekend.

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  7. What a valuable, rich post. Thank you, Carol, for sharing these resources and your wonderful Golden Shovel. I love the historical echoes in "their/legacy in a chain of not-forgotten lives."

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    1. Catherine, thanks for referring to my line from the poem. I was not sure how that would be received. I played around with that thought for long period of time.

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  8. Thanks for this full robust post Carol, the art and poems are rich. I really like the golden shovel you built from Faison's poem. Each line and word so well crafted and then tie into events of slavery.

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    1. Thank you, Michelle. I am glad that you see where I was going with the golden shovel poem.

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