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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
Overview
Authors and Literary Works
Langston Hughes
Biography
Work
Christopher Moore
Biography
Work
Interview
Joyce Hansen/ Gary McGowan
Biography
Work
Barbara Chase-Riboud
Biography
Work
Key References
Video Summary
Teaching Strategies
Commentary
Student Work
Resources
Interactive Workbook -- Explore two poems using strategies from these workshops. Go.
Channel-Talk -- Share your views on the discussion board. Go.


Photo: Horst
Authors and Literary Works
Biography

Barbara Chase-Riboud is a sculptor, author, and poet of international acclaim. Her commemoration of the African Burial Ground in New York City is expressed in all three genres: poetry, sculpture, and historical novel. "Africa Rising" is the name she has given to the poem and to the on-site sculpture honoring the burial ground that was recently excavated, yielding the remains of more than 400 African Americans. The remains and artifacts from the site are an invaluable resource that enriches people's understanding of the African American story.

Chase-Riboud won the Black Caucus ALA Award for Fiction for Hottentot Venus, her novel that is related to the Africa Rising sculpture. Both are based on the true story of Sarah Baartman, a South African herdswoman who was shockingly exhibited as a "scientific curiosity" in the capitals of Europe in the 19th century. "There has been a lot of academic writing about this woman," observes Chase-Riboud. "But she always has been presented as an object, never as a subject."

Chase-Riboud wrote several earlier novels based on historical characters, including the very controversial and internationally best-selling Sally Hemings, which presents a fictionalized version of a relationship between slave Hemings and President Thomas Jefferson, who was alleged to be the father of her seven children. Echo of Lions is based on the mutiny of Africans coming to America aboard the slave ship Amistad.

The poem "Africa Rising" encompasses the experience of the throngs of Africans forced by slavery from their homeland to America's shores:

We came into the Hell of deathly white
Zeila & Somaliland, Galla & Abyssinia, Tigre & Shoa
Niger & Nile, Orange & Congo, Cubango & Kasai
Strung out in caravans, we came, a stunned string of
Black pearls like a hundred year centipede: one thousand
One thousand thousand. one million. three. six. nine. thirty million.


Born in Philadelphia, Barbara Chase-Riboud studied art at Temple University. After graduation she won a fellowship to the American Academy in Rome, and then went on to the Yale University School of Art. She began showing her work in Paris in 1966. Some of the institutions that have exhibited her sculptures are the Centre Pompidou and Ministere de la Culture in Paris; the Schomburg Collection of the New York Public Library, the Metropolitan Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the University Museum in Berkeley, California; the New Orleans Museum of Art; and the Philadelphia Art Alliance.

Chase-Riboud began writing poetry in the early 1970s. At Random House she worked with then-editor Toni Morrison. Her first collection, From Memphis to Peking, was published in 1974. She has been awarded the Carl Sandburg Prize for Best American Poet. The French government knighted her in the Order of Arts and Letters.

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