Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Teaching Multicultural Literature : A Workshop for the Middle Grades
Workshop 1 Workshop 2 Workshop 3 Workshop 4 Workshop 5 Workshop 6 Workshop 7 Workshop 8
Workshop 6: Historical and Cultural Context - Langston Hughes and Christopher Moore
Authors and Literary Works
Langston Hughes
Christopher Moore
Joyce Hansen/ Gary McGowan
Barbara Chase-Riboud
Key References
Video Summary
Teaching Strategies
Student Work
Interactive Workbook -- Explore two poems using strategies from these workshops. Go.
Channel-Talk -- Share your views on the discussion board. Go.

Authors and Literary Works
The African Burial Ground: An American Discovery

The African Burial Ground: An American Discovery, narrated by Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, is a one-hour documentary film chronicling major discoveries that add crucial information to our knowledge of the long African American quest for freedom dating from colonial days. These events also are critical to our understanding of the history of New York City, and are of great importance to the fields of archaeology and anthropology. Many viewers will be surprised at the film's revelation of the extent and duration of slavery in New York.

The African Burial Ground: An American Discovery tells the story of these findings in two different ways. The first half hour of the documentary shows the actual work of excavation, when as many as 65 archaeologists at one time were very carefully documenting the bones and artifacts in place, using tiny dental tools and making detailed drawings and taking measurements so that as much knowledge as possible would be secured from the actual site. No matter how much care was taken in the moving process, there would inevitably be a certain amount of damage to the very old, fragile items. (One of the most poignant findings was the skeleton of a woman with her infant in the crook of her arm.) All this was preliminary to the analysis of bones and artifacts at the Howard University laboratory, as well as the work of anthropologists and historians who would draw new conclusions from the scientific work.

The documentary follows up this modern-day scientific detective story with a second half hour about the history of the early years of New York, when slavery began and developed. From their first days as colonists of New Amsterdam, the Dutch introduced African slaves. When the British took over and established the colony as New York, the situation of African Americans worsened. Eventually, as many as one in five New Yorkers was of African descent. "The 18th century, during the British occupation, was one of extreme repression for both black people and natives or Indians in New York City," according to historian Dr. Sherrill Wilson. The film characterizes New York's slave laws as "more strict than any other state in the North, and comparable to the slave codes of the South." Slaves lost rights they had had during the Dutch era, such as the ownership of land, and were even prohibited from gathering in numbers of more than three or four. There could be no more than a dozen mourners at a funeral. Black people were not allowed to be buried in consecrated ground, thus the need for the special burying ground. Freedom did not come officially to all African Americans in New York State until 1827, and even then society remained strictly segregated.

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