To highlight the contributions of African Americans, Black History Month was created to devote one period during the year. It represents an opportunity for all, not just African Americans to learn about and appreciate the numerous contributions of Black Americans. That conversation, however, is changing at some local schools.
Karen Joostema, Director of Communications at Madeira said, “It’s part of Madeira’s curriculum…not specifically for Black History Month. [Students] taking Modernism will be researching a Harlem Renaissance poet of their choice, analyzing their lives and work. Juniors have also read Frederick Douglass’ Narrative and Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon to interrogate the promise, failures, and continuing work in the U.S. on race and civil rights.”
According to the Alexandria Gazette Packet, “The school’s curriculum, says Joostema incorporates studies of the contributions of all cultures including those of African Americans, seamlessly throughout the year. “AP (Advanced Placement) seniors will be finishing up Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, working to understand how Ellison viewed the struggles of race and class in the middle of the twentieth century and how he viewed himself as part of the American literary tradition, as voiced in his response to Irving Howe, “The World and the Jug,” she said. “Sophomores have just finished reading a short story from the Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o along with a play from the white South African playwright Athol Fugard. Ninth graders read Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings to explore how identity, one’s sense of self, are shaped by race, class, gender, and geography.”
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