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Units February 10, 2022

Uncovering and Reclaiming Historical Identities

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Lesson Summary: Starting in West Africa in the 1500s, students challenge their preconceptions about Africa as they uncover the diverse cultures, communities, and histories about the continent. Next, they study enslavement across the Middle Passage and during colonization through a lens of strength, survival, and resistance. By studying individuals, students uncover and reclaim their own historical identities in a multimedia culminating project. Downloads: Unit resources Links: 1619 podcast and transcripts
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This unit was created by educators in Michigan, as part of the 2021 cohort of The 1619 Project Education Network. It is designed for facilitation across approximately 3-4 weeks, or 22 class periods.

Objectives

Students will be able to explore, analyze, and answer the following questions through the unit:

● What makes Africa’s history rich? What makes it diverse?

● What is the history of slavery in America? Who was enslaved?

● How does knowledge of resistance cultivate a historical identity?

● How can we reclaim and uncover our own historical identities?

Unit Overview

Uncovering and Reclaiming Historical Identities is a collection of over twenty lessons that follow the history of Black people in America, from the 1500s to the present, and focuses on the essential question, “How do you uncover and reclaim a historical identity?” Using Born on the Water as a mentor text, along with other resources, the unit examines the themes of empowerment and resistance. By studying the stories of individuals, students uncover and reclaim their own historical identities in a multimedia culminating project.

Starting in West Africa in the 1500s, students begin the unit by challenging their stereotypes about Africa as they uncover the diverse cultures, communities, and histories throughout the continent. Next, they study enslavement across the Middle Passage and during colonization through a lens of strength, survival, and resistance. They consider the questions, “What is the history of slavery in America? Who was enslaved?” and dive into resources that are focused on the Middle Passage and lives of people who had been enslaved.

Students then explore the question, “How does knowledge of resistance cultivate a historical identity?” by examining the stories of various enslaved people and abolitionists. Students will consider what it means to “resist” and discuss different forms of resistance. Readings will emphasize the strength, survival, and resistance of individuals.

Finally, students will consider how they can reclaim and uncover their own historical identities by rereading Born on the Water and learning about ways to use multimedia to tell their stories. Methods  include an auditory storytelling experience, creating a picture book, or writing a “Where I’m From Poem.” 

At the conclusion of the unit, students will present their work to their  families and community.

Performance Task

“Claim Your Historical Identity” project. This project asks students to claim who they were as who they are. Students will develop something that expresses their reclaiming of their own historical identities.

Project options include:

● StoryCorps Project - interview someone in your family

● Write a picture book about the story of the book’s creator

● Write another “Where I’m From” poem that is connected to your historical identity and create accompanying artwork

● Another idea from the students

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