Begin by having students review or think about the types of images that they find in their text books as well as in the media and popular culture portraying African Americans and African American history. What type of messages do these images portray? Have there been any changes in the depiction of African Americans over time? Explore the differences and the similarities between images found before and after the Civil Rights Movement. Take examples from the collection of art in our City’s schools: Newell’s, History of Western Civilization, Crichlow’s Untitled, and Adams’ Tributaries. Discuss the context of the time in which the work was made for the schools and how the meaning of something can change over time. What stories are told and which aren’t?
The African American Burial Grounds in Lower Manhattan, Seneca Village in Central Park, and Weeksville in Brooklyn are all sites where the presence of African American lives had been forgotten and until recently recognized. Develop a research project for students around these sites. How does knowing about them change our understanding of the history of New York City? How would students teach people about the significance of these places? Students can work in groups of two to write and illustrate children’s stories about one of the sites. When they are finished bind the stories and arrange with an elementary school for students to read their books with younger children.