African American and Ethnic Studies

Check out these resources below as examples of culturally responsive and appropriate resources for teaching about these important topics. Along with these content supports, it is important to take time to reflect and review not only your classroom curriculum, but to formally review the curriculum of your school and district. Also, please take time to review resources that encourage you to self-reflect on how you, your students, and your colleagues engage in this work as well.

 

Maine Related Resources for African American/Ethnic Studies:

The Atlantic Black Box Project - Atlantic Black Box has launched a public history project that relies on an “enlightened crowd-sourcing” model. Its aim is to empower interested community members—whether high school students or retired senior citizens or anyone in between—to conduct research into the maritime history of New England and to share their findings with others thanks to an online database, or “black box.”

Maine Calling: Maine's Role in the Slave Trade - In 1820, the U.S. passed an act that made participation on the slave trade an act of piracy. Yet, dozens of Maine vessels engaged in the slave trade illegally during this period. Thousands of enslaved people were transported and traded, leading to huge profits for slave traders--some of whom were Maine sea captains who are remembered as leading citizens of the day. Much of the millions of dollars from the slave trade funded the growth of New England's economy. In this episode of Maine Calling you will learn more about this troubling period in Maine's history, which has not often been mentioned or understood.

Black History in Maine: The Stories and Contributions of Maine's Black Individuals and Communities - In marking Maine's bicentennial, Maine Calling will look more closely at different aspects of our state's history in the coming year. One such aspect is the history of black people living here in Maine, even from before the state's founding. We'll learn how African Americans in Maine helped create settlements and lay the foundations for the future of the state in various ways, from social to economic to cultural. We'll also hear about the struggles that black residents have faced along the way, as well as the roles that particular individuals played in shaping their communities.

Abyssinian Meeting House - This short article gives a brief introduction to an important local landmark. The Meeting House is currently under renovations. The article shows pictures of the restoration so far and also has links to learn more about the Abyssinian Meeting House.

Portland Freedom Trail - If you are located near Portland or have the ability to take a field trip, you can take students on a walking tour of the Portland Freedom Trail. Many people don't realize the rich history that Portland has, and some students have never been to Portland. This walking tour helps bring the history to life. This could also potentially be done using street view on Google Maps.

Slavery and Maine (Grades 6-12 Primary Source Set) - This primary source set was created as part of a collaborative effort with the Maine State Museum, The Maine State Archives, The Maine Historical Society, The Maine State Library, and the Maine Department of Education. The site includes a primary source set, teacher guide, introduction, and analysis worksheets along with additional resources that might be helpful in teaching about slavery and Maine. Check out additional primary source sets that support teaching about the history of Maine.

Malaga Island:

Explore Malaga Island (Maine State Museum) - By July 1, 1912, the community on Maine’s Malaga Island ceased to exist. The State of Maine had evicted the mixed-race community of fisherman and laborers in order to clear the small coastal island of “It’s Shiftless Population of Half-Breed Blacks and Whites”, as one 1911 newspaper article described it. The mixed-race community was controversial in the state; many people saw the island as an ugly mark on the pristine beauty of Maine’s coast. After years of well-publicized legal battles, the state succeeded in removing the community of around forty people, committing eight to the Maine School for the Feeble Minded. By the end of 1912, all visible traces of the community disappeared – houses were moved and the cemetery was exhumed. The Malaga Island, Fragmented Lives exhibition at the Maine State Museum is now closed. But, you can continue to explore the island’s history through this website, which includes a variety of historical photographs and pictures of artifacts, as well as detailed information about Malaga Island and its people.

Othered: Displaced From Malaga - Educators from the University of Southern Maine along with others have compiled a collection of research and essays that contributed to this resource that tells the history of the people of Malaga Island.

Malaga Island: A Story Best Left Untold - In 1912, a mixed-race community of about forty-five people was evicted by the state of Maine from Malaga Island, just off the coast of Phippsburg. It was an act motivated by economics, racism, eugenics, and political retribution. Eight islanders were committed to the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded. The remaining islanders faired as best they could after moving to the mainland. Once the island was clear, the state moved the Malaga school to another island. Then they dug up the graves and reburied the remains in the graveyard at the Maine School for the Feeble-Minded. The Malaga community was erased. For generations, Descendants have feared to speak about what happened to their families because of the local stigma of mixed-blood and feeble-mindedness. Others in Phippsburg would rather forget the incident - a story best left untold, some say. This is that story.

Malaga Island/Maine Coast Heritage Trust - Malaga Island was once home to a mixed-race fishing community forcibly removed by the state in 1912. Now a public preserve and important Maine historical site, we encourage all to learn the story of Malaga and those who called the island home.

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy - Check out this review of a young adult historical novel by Gary D. Schmidt about two children and the events related to Malaga Island.

African American Studies:

Teaching Hard History: American Slavery - Most students leave high school without an adequate understanding of the role slavery played in the development of the United States—or how its legacies still influence us today. In an effort to remedy this, Teaching Tolerance developed a comprehensive guide for teaching and learning this critical topic at all grade levels.

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture - The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. It was established by Act of Congress in 2003, following decades of efforts to promote and highlight the contributions of African Americans. To date, the Museum has collected more than 36,000 artifacts and nearly 100,000 individuals have become members. You can check out the objects in their collection as well. Recently Smithsonian magazine also released an article featuring 158 Resources to Understand Racism in America. These resources are designed to foster an equal society, encourage commitment to unbiased choices and promote anti-racism in all aspects of life.

Facing History and Ourselves (Race in U.S. History Resources) - At Facing History and Ourselves, they believe the bigotry and hate that we witness today are the legacy of brutal injustices of the past. Facing our collective history and how it informs our attitudes and behaviors allows us to choose a world of equity and justice. Facing History’s resources address racism, antisemitism, and prejudice at pivotal moments in history; they help students connect choices made in the past to those they will confront in their own lives. Through their partnership with educators around the world, Facing History and Ourselves reaches millions of students in thousands of classrooms every year.

African American Perspectives: Materials Selected from the Library of Congress Rare Book Collection - "African American Perspectives" gives a panoramic and eclectic review of African American history and culture and is primarily comprised of two collections in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division: the African American Pamphlet Collection and the Daniel A.P. Murray Collection with a date range of 1822 through 1909. Most were written by African-American authors, though some were written by others on topics of particular importance in African-American history. Among the authors represented are Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Benjamin W. Arnett, Alexander Crummel, Emanuel Love, Lydia Maria Child, Kelly Miller, Charles Sumner, Mary Church Terrell, and Booker T. Washington, among others. The 800 + titles in the collection include sermons on racial pride and political activism; annual reports of charitable, educational, and political organizations; and college catalogs and graduation orations from the Hampton Institute, Morgan College, and Wilberforce University. Also included are biographies, slave narratives, speeches by members of Congress, legal documents, poetry, playbills, dramas, and librettos. Other materials focus on segregation, voting rights, violence against African Americans, the colonization of Africa by freed slaves, anti-slavery organizations and investigative reports. Several of the items are illustrated with portraits of the authors.

Library of Congress: Jim Crow and Segregation - The Library of Congress offers classroom materials to help teachers effectively use primary sources from the Library's vast digital collections in their teaching about African American history and culture.

African-American History Month - The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.

Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture - The Lewis Museum, the largest African American museum in Maryland, has been the authentic voice of Maryland African American history and culture since it opened in 2005. They tell their story through their permanent collection, special exhibitions, educational programs and public events.

The River Road African American Museum - The River Road African American Museum captures the spirit, soul, and significance of the people who thrived and enriched south Louisiana’s sugarcane country. Visitors receive a rare glimpse into the lives of the enslaved and free people of color who lived in the rural communities of this region, known as “plantation country.” Exhibits reflect the fortitude and achievements birthed by a generation of artists, educators, physicians, craftsmen, politicians, inventors, and musicians. The museum also has a collection of virtual tours.

The National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum - The National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum was founded in 1995 by Dr. Lyn Hughes. The facility is located in the Historic Pullman District in Chicago Illinois. On February 19, 2015 President Barack Obama designated the Historic Pullman district a National Monument that is now a part of the National Park Service. The museum is named after men who made history – Asa Philip Randolph and Pullman Porters, the men who made up the membership of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) union. Randolph was the chief organizer and co-founder of the BSCP, the first African-American labor union in the country to win a collective bargaining agreement. Under Randolph’s leadership, the Pullman Porters fought a valiant battle for employment equality with the corporate giant, the Pullman Rail Car Company. Their pioneering efforts created the first bona-fide union for the African American worker. This victorious struggle in America’s early labor movement was also the doorway through which many civil rights gains were made.

On This Day in Racial Injustice by the Equal Justice Initiative - The Equal Justice Initiative designed A History of Racial Injustice as a set of tools for learning more about people and events in American history that are critically important but not well known. This digital experience highlights events on this day in history with rich detail and intuitive sharing features, and our award-winning wall calendar is a tactile resource for display in classrooms, community centers, offices, and homes. Please join us in this important and long-neglected conversation about race in America by sharing this calendar.

The Google Arts and Culture Institute - Check out the resources, collections, stories, and items related to African American history and culture that are part of the Google Arts and Culture Institute collections.

EDSITEment! Lesson Plans - The National Endowment for the Humanities has a website called EDSITEment! that you can search for lesson plans and so many additional resources. Here is what they have for lessons related to African American history and culture.

Common Sense Education: Best African American History Apps and Websites - African Americans are central to U.S. history and responsible for much of what we consider American culture. The apps, games, and websites collected here tell that story, balancing the triumphs of African Americans in politics, literature, music, science, and beyond with the continued struggle for social justice. Use these picks to break free of the boundaries of Black History Month and integrate African American history all year long across the curriculum.

Smithsonian Learning Lab: African American History - The Smithsonian Learning Lab has seventy-five collections for educators who want to teach about African American history and culture as well as almost 50,000 related items in their collection.

EVERFI's 306: African American History Digital Curriculum - EVERFI offers two free digital programs to teach Black history as American history. 306: African American History is comprised of five 10 minute lessons on slavery in the United States, the Underground Railroad, Emancipation and Reconstruction, Harlem Renaissance, Jim Crow, Civil Rights & Beyond.  306: Continuing the Story extends the lessons of the original 306: African American History course, teaching students about events in U.S. history from both before and after the Civil Rights Era that have shaped the experience of many Black people in the United States in four 15 minute engaging lessons.  From learning about Juneteenth, Black Wall Street, and racial inequities in health care, students draw connections from past and present events to recognize and empathize with the ongoing challenges Black people face in the United States.

 

Civil Rights Movement:

Teaching the Movement - Prompted by reports showing that American students knew little about the modern civil rights movement, Teaching Tolerance launched an investigation into the social studies standards states expected teachers to teach and students to learn. We found that few states emphasize the movement or provide classroom support for teaching this history effectively. From the research of Teaching Tolerance comes this set of teaching principles and curriculum rehabilitation tools. This framework is perfect for history educators who want to improve upon the simplified "King-and-Parks" narrative and engage this critical content at the level of depth it deserves.

Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot - This film tells the story of a courageous group of students and teachers who, along with other activists, fought a nonviolent battle to win voting rights for African Americans in the South. Standing in their way: a century of Jim Crow, a resistant and segregationist state, and a federal government slow to fully embrace equality. By organizing and marching bravely in the face of intimidation, violence, arrest and even murder, these change-makers achieved one of the most significant victories of the civil rights era. The Selma-to-Montgomery legacy includes the sacrifices of young people whose history is seldom told.

Selma March 55th Anniversary in 2020 (Teaching Tolerance) - 2020 marks the 55th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery march for voting rights. Hundreds of activists, students and educators organized and marched bravely in the face of racist violence and arrests. Use these resources to teach how the Selma organizers achieved one of the most significant victories of the civil rights era: the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Beyond the BusBeyond the Bus, a special publication of the Teaching the Movement initiative, brings together key elements from several resources Teaching Tolerance has developed to help educators recognize and fill instructional gaps when teaching about the civil rights movement. Take the opportunity to teach about the individuals who acted collectively alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, and about how activists organize and operate, so that students, too, can work collectively with their peers. This means that discussions about Rosa Parks must acknowledge the activists who were arrested before her and the grassroots efforts that mobilized the community to boycott after her arrest.

Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Movement 1954-1985 - Individuals, groups and nations have responded to injustice throughout history. The purpose of this series of lessons is to look at one particular approach to responding to injustice: the strategy of nonviolence. While these lessons were written to be used together, they can also be used on their own. Facing History and Ourselves and put together a four part unit based on the PBS Eyes on the Prize video collection.

Choices in Little Rock - Choices in Little Rock is a teaching unit that focuses on efforts to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957—efforts that resulted in a crisis that historian Taylor Branch once described as "the most severe test of the Constitution since the Civil War." The unit explores civic choices—the decisions people make as citizens in a democracy. Those decisions, both then and now, reveal that democracy is not a product but a work in progress, a work that is shaped by the choices that we make about ourselves and others. Although those choices may not seem important at the time, little by little, they define an individual, delineate a community, and ultimately distinguish a nation. Those choices build on the work of earlier generations and leave legacies for those to come.

Civil Rights Historical Investigations - In this resource students trace the development of the civil rights movement in the United States from the 1950s to the 1970s. They focus on three of the movement's major events: the murder and trial of Emmett Till, voter discrimination in the South, and the struggle over school desegregation in Boston. By analyzing primary documents, developing historical claims, and drawing connections to their own lives, students actively engage in this important history.

Library of Congress: Civil Rights History Project - On May 12, 2009, the U. S. Congress authorized a national initiative by passing The Civil Rights History Project Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-19). The law directed the Library of Congress (LOC) and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) to conduct a national survey of existing oral history collections with relevance to the Civil Rights movement to obtain justice, freedom and equality for African Americans and to record and make widely accessible new interviews with people who participated in the struggle. The project was initiated in 2010 with the survey and with interviews beginning in 2011. The activists interviewed for this project belong to a wide range of occupations, including lawyers, judges, doctors, farmers, journalists, professors, and musicians, among others. The video recordings of their recollections cover a wide range of topics within the freedom struggle, such as the influence of the labor movement, nonviolence and self-defense, religious faith, music, and the experiences of young activists. Actions and events discussed in the interviews include the Freedom Rides (1961), the Albany Movement (1961), the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963), the Selma to Montgomery Rights March (1965), the Orangeburg Massacre (1968), the Poor People’s Campaign (1968), sit-ins, and voter registration drives in the South. The murder of fourteen year old Emmett Till in 1955, a horrific event that galvanized many young people into joining the freedom movement, looms large in the memories of many movement veterans.

Library of Congress: Rosa Parks Papers - The Library of Congress offers classroom materials to help teachers effectively use primary sources from the Library's vast digital collections in their teaching about Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights movement.

EDSITEment! Lesson Plans - The National Endowment for the Humanities has a website called EDSITEment! that you can search for lesson plans and so many additional resources. Here is what they have for lessons related to teaching about Civil Rights.

Created Equal - The NEH Created Equal project uses the power of documentary films to encourage public conversations about the changing meanings of freedom and equality in America. The four films that are part of this project tell the remarkable stories of individuals who challenged the social and legal status quo, from slavery to segregation. Created Equal is part of the Bridging Cultures initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities, produced in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

PBS Learning Media: Civil Rights - In 1954, the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education declared segregated schools unconstitutional and sparked a decade of groundbreaking civil rights activism and legislation. Using archival news footage, primary sources, and interview segments originally filmed for Eyes on the Prize, but not included in the final broadcast, this collection captures the voices, images, and events of the Civil Rights Movement and the ongoing struggle for racial equality in America.

Selma Online - This website by the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University is a free, online teaching platform that seeks to transform how the civil rights movement is taught in middle and high schools across the country. The project uses footage from Ava DuVernay's 2014 movie "Selma" and attempts to show students how events in 1965 shaped voting rights. Harvard scholar and documentary filmmaker Henry Louis Gates Jr. helped create an interactive website with the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance program and Left Field Labs.  

The Road to Civil Rights (a lesson plan from iCivics) - Discover the people, groups, and events behind the Civil Rights Movement. Learn about means of non-violent protest, opposition to the movement, and identify how it took all three branches of the federal government to effect change. Protest posters, fictional diary entries, and a map of the movement's major events develop a greater understanding of the struggle for civil rights.

National Civil Rights Museum - Noted as one of the nation's premier heritage and cultural museums, the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, is steadfast in its mission to share the culture and lessons from the American Civil Rights Movement and explore how this significant era continues to shape equality and freedom globally.

Five Essential Practices fro Teaching the Civil Rights Movement - Teaching the civil rights movement should empower students to be great citizens. If you are checking out this webpage, you likely share this philosophy. You want to teach about the civil rights movement as more than history—it is part of your mission to empower students with the tools to challenge injustice. This guide has emerged from our decades of Teaching Tolerance experience and research into teaching the civil rights movement. In it, they present five essential practices designed to provoke thought and innovation.

Race and Civil Rights in the Nation - The Nation has put together a five part Journey Through History on Race and Civil Rights:

  • Part I, From the Memphis riots of 1866 to the first anti-lynching conference, in New York City, in 1919.
  • Part II, From the “Red Summer” of racial violence in Chicago, in 1919, to Rosa Parks’s bus protest, in 1955.
  • Part III, From the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968.
  • Part IV, From the ban on segregation in housing, in 1968, to freedom for Nelson Mandela, in 1990.
  • Part V, From the LA riots of 1992 to the release of Selma, in 2015.

Students "Sit" for Civil Rights - On February 1, 1960, four African American college students challenged racial segregation by sitting down at a "whites only" counter lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C. Politely asking for service, their request was refused. When asked to leave, they remained in their seats. Their sit-in inspired others to engage in nonviolent protests, which drew attention to the inequalities in civil rights at the time. Learn more about these sit-ins and books to use with your students.

Juneteenth (June 19):

Juneteenth: A Celebration of Resilience - Juneteenth is a time to celebrate, gather as a family, reflect on the past and look to the future. The National Museum of African American History and Culture invites you to engage in your history and discover ways to celebrate this holiday.

The Historical Legacy of Juneteenth - Google Arts & Culture explores our country's "Second Independence Day". It has long been celebrated among the African American community and it's time to share this history with a wider public.

Teaching Juneteenth - Each year around June 19, Black communities across the country unite for a family reunion of sorts. Juneteenth activities feature the sights and sounds of Blackness: People enjoying art, music and food that connect them to a shared ancestry and history. They celebrate being their authentic selves. They celebrate freedom in both solemn and festive ceremonies. This celebration marks a day in 1865 when enslaved Texans learned they’d be free—two months after Robert E. Lee surrendered and ended the Civil War and two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Initially a uniquely Texan observance, Juneteenth has now been recognized in some form in every corner of the country.

Juneteenth: Emancipation Day - Juneteenth or Emancipation Day is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Why is this not a national holiday to celebrate independence? It is reported that on June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas. They brought the news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.

Best Resources from Learning About Juneteenth - Larry Ferlazzo has a collection of the "best of" websites and resources for teaching about Juneteenth.

Ethnic Studies:

Library of Congress: Immigration and Ethnic Heritage - The Library of Congress offers classroom materials to help teachers effectively use primary sources from the Library's vast digital collections in their teaching about Immigration and Ethnic Heritage.

Latino Civil Rights by Teaching Tolerance - Teaching Tolerance has produced a series of resources for teaching about Latino Civil Rights. Use the Latino Civil Rights Timeline: 1903-2006 in combination with the lessons Understanding the History of Latino Civil Rights (Middle and High School) and Exploring the History of Latino Civil Rights (Grades 3-5). 

Civil Rights and Conflict in the United States - This collection includes notable speeches from U.S. history concerning slavery, women's rights, racial equality, conflicts with Native Americans, and capital punishment.

Integrating Ethnic Studies in Social Studies Curriculum - Traditional social studies curriculum in the K-12 system focuses on United States history through a Eurocentric lens. The issue with focusing on a black-and-white version of history impacts people of color from ethnic backgrounds that are not equally represented in the curriculum. The research conducted for this project by Alyssa Denise Hernández specifically focuses on the impact of this subject matter on individuals in a predominantly Latino community. Through surveys and interviews, the researcher presents feedback on the experiences of these individuals and provides possible solutions on how schools can improve social studies curriculum at the high school level to be more culturally relevant and inclusive to the experiences of marginalized communities of color.

Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Guidelines - Based on a 2016 law that required the teaching of Ethnic Studies in California, the California State Board of Education created a website to provide helpful guidelines related to teaching about Ethnic Studies. You can check out the Los Angeles Unified School School district's Ethnic Studies course outline.

African American & Ethnic Studies Books

The books below may be of interest to anyone teaching about or wanting to learn more about African American and/or Ethnic Studies:

Paul Ortiz - An African American and Latinx History of the United States

Charles Mann - 1491

Charles Mann - A Young Readers 1491

Charles Mann - 1493

F. Fernandez-Armesto - Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States

F. Fernandez-Armesto - 1492

Mae M Ngai - Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens & the Making of Modern America

Ronald Takaki - Strangers From a Different Shore: A History of Asian-Americans

Cathy J. Schlund-Vials Asian American Primary Source Reader

Edward Baptist - The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Captialism

Douglas Blackmon - Slavery By Another Name

Henry Louis Gates - Life Upon These Shores

Jeanne Theoharis - A More Beautiful and Terrible History:The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History

Richard Rothstein - The Color of Law

Ta-Nehisis Coates - Between the World and Me

Ta-Nehisis Coates - We Were Eight Years in Power

Jesmyn Ward - The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race

Ibram X Kendi - Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas

Eric Foner - The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz - An Indigenous Peoples History of the U.S.

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz - All The Real Indians Died Off

J. Mendoza & D. Reese - An Indigenous Peoples History of the U.S. for Young People

Anton Treuer - Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask

Scott Richard Lyons - X-Marks: Native Signatures of Assent

 

Continue the Work Beyond Your Class:

Along with these content supports, it is important to take time to reflect and review not only your classroom curriculum, but to formally review the curriculum of your school and district. Also, please take time to review resources that encourage you to self-reflect on how you, your students, and your colleagues engage in this work as well.