Units March 8, 2024

Picturing the Unseen: Illuminating Overlooked Narratives in African American History

Lesson Summary: Students research significant and often overlooked moments of American history and communicate their findings through art by creating data visualizations Downloads: Complete unit resources

This unit was created by the Amplify Through Art team as part of the 2023 cohort of The 1619 Project Education Network. It is designed for facilitation across approximately eight to ten 45-minute sessions.

Unit Overview

In this unit, students will delve into the often overlooked and censored aspects of African American history in the United States. Through the lens of visual representation, students will explore significant events, figures, perspectives and events that have been marginalized in traditional historical narratives.

By creating various forms of visual media such as data visualizations, students will engage with these stories, gaining a deeper understanding of the complexities of African American history and the impact of censorship on national memory.

Essential Questions:

  • Why do erasure and/or underreported stories exist, especially in the context of Black history in America? How about other communities? Who does it benefit and who does it hurt? 
  • How has art amplified underreported historical stories? In what ways have artists leveraged data/facts to advance the message of art?
  • How has art/data visualization been used as a tool to review the past? How can it impact the future?
  • Why are contemporary artists using data visualization to reconnect with the past and surface erased narratives and voices?

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Historical Awareness: Develop a comprehensive understanding of underrepresented and censored events in African American history, including their significance and impact on society.
  1. Critical Thinking: Analyze the reasons behind the underrepresentation and censorship of certain historical events, encouraging students to question the dominant narratives.
  1. Visual Literacy: Acquire skills in creating visual representations, including infographics, digital art, videos, and more, to communicate historical narratives effectively.
  1. Empathy and Perspective-Taking: Foster empathy by exploring historical events from different viewpoints, promoting a more holistic understanding of African American experiences.
  1. Cultural Appreciation: Recognize the contributions of African Americans to various fields and industries throughout history, emphasizing their resilience and achievements.

Performance Task

By the end of the unit, students will have a portfolio of visual work representing their research and exploration. This will include data visualizations, art projects and reflections on artwork. The final activity of the unit will be a gallery walk for students to share and discuss their work with classmates, families, school staff, and community members. 


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