artwork from The 1619 Project

Activity September 29, 2021

The 1619 Project Resources for Afterschool Education

Lesson Summary: These activities for afterschool educators give various entry points into exploring multimedia components and text excerpts from "The 1619 Project" in order to spark students' creativity, teamwork, critical thinking, and media literacy skills.

Below, you can also explore opportunities to bring a journalist guest speaker to your afterschool group to speak about reporting on themes connected to "The 1619 Project." Links: Complete activities on mizzen education

About these Resources:

These activities for afterschool educators give various entry points into exploring multimedia components and text excerpts from The 1619 Project in order to spark students' creativity, teamwork, critical thinking, and media literacy skills. In addition to examining the history and the legacy of slavery in the United States, these resources guide students in celebrating the contributions of Black Americans to democracy and exploring the genius of Black innovators and artists. Each activity is designed for facilitation across one or two 45-minute sessions. They can be completed in any order, but we recommend beginning with at least one activity from the introductory module to provide a strong foundation for further exploration.

How to Access the Resources:

Below, you will find an outline of the activities available to afterschool educators. The complete activities, including step-by-step instructions, downloadable worksheets, and facilitation tips, are hosted on Mizzen, a free app to help afterschool professionals deliver exciting learning opportunities that inspire, engage, and empower young learners. Register for free below! Once you have a free account, you can explore the app or click the links below to access complete activities. You can find out more about this content partnership here.

Introductory Module Activities:

1. Introducing The 1619 Project

Students analyze and discuss the main ideas of The 1619 Project after watching a video in which Nikole Hannah-Jones introduces the project. They then explore how the legacy of slavery can be seen in modern life through a pair activity, and reflect on themes and issues related to Black history they want to know more about.

2. The Idea of America: Celebrating Black Americans' Contributions to Democracy

Students evaluate how the values stated in the Declaration of Independence have manifested in U.S. society, and examine what it would mean to reframe U.S. history by considering 1619 the country’s founding date. Students read and discuss excerpts from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones’s introductory essay to The 1619 Project.

3. Visualizing the Legacy of Slavery: Gallery Walk and Quote Museum

Students will learn about the ways in which slavery’s legacy persists in U.S. systems and society by examining images and text in an engaging gallery walk activity. They will also practice visually communicating tone and information to others by creating a group “quote museum.”

4. Fact-sorting Challenge: Examining Common Myths About U.S. Slavery

Students learn about common inaccuracies in how slavery is taught and then strengthen their own knowledge and media literacy skills by working together to distinguish myths from facts, using credible sources.

5. Analyzing and Constructing Timelines of Racial (In)justice

Students reflect on how myths about history are perpetuated, analyze a timeline of racial (in)justice from The 1619 Project, and collaborate to build timelines that illustrate how the fight for racial justice continues in their own lifetimes.

Activities for Further Exploration:

1. Symbols of Democracy: Exploring the 1619 Podcast

Students develop a deeper understanding of how the U.S. is still working to achieve its ideals by engaging with the 1619 podcast episode 1, “The Fight for a True Democracy." Students will develop personal definitions of democracy and freedom, and will share a symbol of democracy as they define it using visual art.

2. Exploring Primary Sources from The 1619 Project

Students examine primary sources on the history of enslavement, curated by Mary Elliott of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.

3. Highlighting Underreported Stories About Black Innovators

Students explore the meaning of the word innovator, analyze two stories about Black American innovators from The 1619 Project, and conduct their own research on underreported stories about Black American innovators.

4. Reclaiming Narratives: Creative Accounts of Black History

Students explore creative accounts of underrepresented or misrepresented events in Black history. After considering the power of creative writing as a means to process and interpret history, they will write their own creative reimagining of a historical event.

5. Freedom, Resistance, and Genius in Black American Music

Students learn how Black American music has helped to change and define American culture and history, and create a playlist of songs by Black American artists that they believe portray freedom, resistance, and genius.

6. Erasure Poetry as Resistance

Students discuss what erasure means, and how it can be used both as a tool of oppression and resistance. They then explore examples of poems that use erasure to question, challenge, and subvert existing texts, and create erasure poems of their own in the spirit of resistance.


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