Learning with the series “Black History, continued”

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There are many other compelling pieces in the “Black History, Suite” series that aren’t included in the five daily lessons we’ve listed above. Choose another item from the collection or watch a video from the project’s YouTube playlist. Then answer the following questions in writing or in discussion with a partner:

  • Which article or video did you choose and why?

  • What did the play make you think or feel? What personal connections can you make with the subject?

  • What was most memorable, surprising, provocative or moving?

  • How did the images or visuals help tell the story?

  • How does the new article or video deepen or challenge your understanding of black history?

  • What other questions does this raise?

Dodai Stewart, associate editor of Narrative Projects, writes:

Black history is not a static, majestic historical record, but a living narrative that is still unfolding, with many more stories to tell.

Pitch to the “Black History, Suite” Series Editors: What Black History topics, themes, traditions, or stories would you like the series to tell next? What do you think is still missing, overlooked or misrepresented?

Your elevator pitch should include the following: What is your idea? How would this fit in with and further the series’ goals of exploring “pivotal moments and transformative figures in black culture” and “how the past shapes the present and the future”? Why would this topic be engaging or enlightening to Times readers? What is your personal connection to the subject? Why do you think it is overlooked, misunderstood or ignored? How does it lend itself to rich visual and written storytelling?

To help you find exciting and overlooked stories, past and present, you can start by searching the Times’ Race/Related Topics page or by exploring these external resources:

What are the big takeaways from the series for you? How has this changed the way you view black history – and American history as a whole? How successful is the series in achieving its goals? Choose one or more of the prompts below in writing or in discussion with a partner:

  • What are your reactions to the articles you read and to the series as a whole? What does that make you think and feel? How does the show affect how you think about black history?

  • Shelton Johnson, a ranger featured in one of the series’ articles, said, “A storyteller is a healer and a good story has always been good medicine. The right story at the right time can heal the world. Do you agree? What is the power of storytelling and the stories explored in the series? How have the words, images and stories in this series affected, touched, enlightened or moved you? What moments and details stand out and why?

  • How do the topics, themes, and stories explored in “Black History, Suite” relate to your own life and experiences, and those of your family and community? What wisdom, inspiration and life lessons can you draw from it?

  • How black history is taught in schools is still a battleground today. For example, a new Texas law prohibits teaching that “slavery and racism are anything other than deviations, betrayals, or breaches of the genuine founding principles of the United States.” A recent rule in Florida prohibits the teaching of the 1619 Project in public schools. Published in 2019 by The New York Times Magazine, the 1619 Project “aims to reframe the nation’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of America’s national narrative.” And to date, more than 20 states — including New Hampshire, Michigan and Arkansas — have introduced regulations that restrict teaching about race and racism. What do you think of these efforts to restrict how schools teach about black history, race and racism?

  • In “How Black History Week Became Black History Month and Why It Matters Now,” Veronica Chambers concludes:

Why is Black History Month in particular, and the study of Black History in general, still so important? “There is no doubt that history is and continues to be a battlefield. The origin stories we tell are very important in knowing where we set the bar and how we set it in the future,” noted Professor Jones, of Johns Hopkins. “So when you talk about people like Carter G. Woodson, these are men who knew that if you don’t rewrite the history of Africans and people of African descent, if you don’t rewrite the history of the United United through the lens of black history, if you don’t make this record and if you don’t make this case, there’s [false] stories that will expand and move towards rationalizing and perpetuating racism, exclusion, marginalization and more.

What is your reaction to the quote? After being on the show, why do you think how black history is written, learned, and taught is so important? Do you agree that “unless you rewrite the history of the United States through the prism of black history” the false stories will continue and contribute to “rationalising and perpetuating racism, exclusion, marginalization ” ?

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