Civil Rights Movement
On the Block
Romare Bearden was a prominent collage artist based in Harlem. Share images of his work with kids by visiting the Romare Bearden Foundation website, then click on Education Resources to explore ways to incorporate Bearden’s work in your classroom. Begin by inviting small groups to make a collage of their neighborhood in the style of Bearden’s The Block.
Pay homage to great African American jazz musicians, such as Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, and Duke Ellington, by reading This Jazz Man by Karen Ehrhardt. Then listen to their music and have students free-write phrases to describe how the music makes them feel. Type the words into wordle.net to make a colorful “word cloud” that represents jazz music.
Print and display!!!
Where Black Canadians have come from –
This activity is based on the article “Coming to Canada” in the Black History issue of Kayak: Canada’s History Magazine for Kids. Please go to the link below to gain access the PDF.
For this activity, you will need a map of the world and several pieces of string and tape.
Provide a map for the students to explore. Once their exploration is complete, prompt them by asking, “Where do you think Black people who live in Canada originally came from?” Encourage them to share their thoughts. Together, begin to explore the different countries that Black Canadians came from. Be sure to highlight Canada and use different colours of strings to represent the different countries and connect them to Canada. This will provide the children with a visual understanding.
Challenge it further
Following the information in the article “Coming to Canada,” plot the highlighted Black Canadians and/or settlements on the map individually. Explore and discuss each location and the history of each settlement.
Plot famous Black Canadians and where they are from. For example, use renowned Black Canadians like Lincoln Alexander, Jean Augustine and Michaëlle Jean to discover their background and their contributions to our society.
Encourage the children to ask various Black members in their school community (e.g., teachers, peers, custodial staff etc.) where they are from. Then have them pinpoint the location on the map. Incorporate math by having the children create a bar graph or tally chart to collect data and record data of the different countries that the Black members of their community are from. This will allow the learning to be more meaningful as they make real-life connections.
“The Last Best West” – Thinking critically about the media we consume today.
At the turn of the century, many Black families in Oklahoma wanted to escape the state’s racial violence and discrimination for a new start in Canada’s “Last Best West.” The Canadian government, however, didn’t want them to settle in those vast, fertile western provinces. To stem the tide of Black immigration, the government began a secret campaign of disinformation. Uncovering this deception from 1911 can help us think more critically about the media we consume today.
ACTIVITY: After viewing the video, lead a discussion on the questions students have on what the see, hear or read in the news or social media today. What messages are fighting for their attention?
Female Freedom Fighters
Facing both sexism and racism, Black females are often some of the most overlooked members of society. This demographic, however, has contributed significantly to Canada’s rich history. Have your students read through the Canadian Encyclopedia’s collection of articles highlighting six Black Canadian female advocates, activists and catalysts for change within Canada.
Freedom Fighters Activity (LAW): In the activity above, you are introduced to Marie-Josephe Angelique, an enslaved Black woman accused of setting fire to a hospital and 45 houses on rue Saint-Paul in Montreal. Invite your students to complete this mystery quest: Solve the Mystery Quest! by examining key pieces of evidence presented at the trial. Your students will ultimately need to decide whether they are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that it was Angelique who set the fire!
Hot Black Canadian Historical Topics – Podcast Style
Encourage your students listen to Portraits of Black Canadians or The Secret Life of Canada. These two podcasts discuss some of the country’s hidden stories as well as spotlight some of the Black Canadians that have marked the country’s past and present.
The Danger of a Single Story
Chimamanda Adichie is a Nigerian writer who describes the effects that labels can have on how we think about ourselves and others in “The Danger of a Single Story”. How can we challenge the single stories within ourselves & plan our courses with a balance of stories?
- Create an identity chart for Chimamanda Adichie. Which labels on the chart represent how she sees her own identity? Which ones represent how some others view her?
- What does Adichie mean by a “single story”? What examples does she give? Why does she believe “single stories” are dangerous?
- Is there a single story that others often use to define you? Can you think of other examples of “single stories” that may be part of your own worldview? Where do those “single stories” come from? How can we find a “balance of stories”?
- Adichie herself admits to sometimes defining others with a single story. Why is it that people sometimes make the same mistakes that they so easily see others making?
Bright Spark – https://www.brightsparktravel.ca/blog/classroom-resources-for-teaching-black-history-in-canada
Canadian Encyclopedia – https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/black-female-freedom-fighters
Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History – https://www.mysteryquests.ca/quests/02/indexen.html
CBC – https://www.cbc.ca/listen/cbc-podcasts/203-the-secret-life-of-canada
Radio Canada International – https://www.rcinet.ca/en/podcasts/portraits-of-black-canadians/
Facing History and Ourselves – https://facingcanada.facinghistory.org/black-history-month-resources