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African American Experience Resources  

Last Updated: Sep 21, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Smithsonian Heritage Virtual Tour

This introductory page gives teachers ideas for students to self explore and headphones are a definite must as music takes you to various time periods.Explore Objects-  This tab (top left) provides 12 objects from the Smithsonian.  Each object has selected music accompanied, a brief description, an activity often times connecting it to a print resource and even a quiz.  Students can reflect in their virtual “My Notebook”, can create their own curated, customized tour of objects they find significant.  I love the self-guided nature of this tour.  I think students will enjoy having control and freedom to explore what they want with headphones to evoke even more of the atmosphere from the time period.  Teachers can give parameters on how many objects to explore, but students will enjoy the small informational pieces of text and the freedom to decide for themselves what’s important.  This is not text-heavy for reluctant readers.  Students will have to use their observation skills to really examine the objects, art or photographs used in this exhibit.  This exhibit has layers of complexity.  The objects aren’t arranged in any chronological order so students will have to make meaning about place and time while exploring the objects.  The descriptions are detailed and easy to understand but students who have knowledge of the time period will more readily connect to the objects.  Easy to navigate and thought-provoking.--Chalida



National Museum of African American Museum

This is the latest Smithsonian museum at the National Mall in Washington DC and slated to open in 2016. Although the museum is not open, the website has a wealth of information on African American history.  There is a social media section that includes blogs, tweets, and facebook.  The purpose of the museums general collection “is to collect and preserve artifacts, documents, and art that reflect the history and development of the African American experience in its many aspects” (NMAAH, 2014) with special emphasis on slavery and its impacts, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Civil Rights Movement.  The current exhibit, which can be seen at a gallery, is about Hale Woodruff’s murals at the HBC Talladega College.  The programming at the museum is wonderful and interactive.  There is the Save our African American Treasures in which African Americans are encouraged to search through their ephemera and memorabilia to look for quilts, train tickets, music bills, letters and photographs to bring to traveling expos.  At the expos the Smithsonian sends experts in curating and they teach people how to preserve their items and some will make it into the museum.  They also have an interactive classroom  Lives of Objects Video Conference that has a Smithsonian curator video chat with students about special objects in the museum.   The sites also have information about African Americans interested in genealogy and ways to contribute to the Freedmen's Bureau project. The NMAAH is part of the world renown Smithsonian.  The Smithsonian is the country’s most prestigious museums.  There is also a Scholarly Advisory Committee of about 25 respected scholars with backgrounds in African American History.  

This is a very comprehensive website for the future museum.  There is a lot of material for students and educators.  What I like best are the interactive activities.  Visitors become history investigators and curators themselves.  There is a lot of emphasis on  making learning more interactive and that translates into ipad apps but this site does it perfectly by using online tools such as video conferencing to have museum curators meet with students and together they can study objects. --Callen 


Museum of African Diaspora- MoAD  

Image result for the first African Diaspora museum and it is located in San Francisco.  The mission of the museum is to celebrate and share the history, art and culture from the African Diaspora highlighting connecting people through heritage.   Permanent exhibits include: the Origins of the African Diaspora, Adornment, Culinary Traditions, Music, Rituals and the Slave Passages.  The museum also includes changing exhibits and currently does not have any because it is being remodeled and will reopen December 2014.  The museum also has a strong educational component that include youth groups, educator workshops, scholar salons, curriculum guides, and family programing.  This is a unique museum focusing on all aspects of the diaspora.  There is a strong historical component focusing on the slave trade throughout the world and a more modern emphasis as more and more immigrants from all over Africa settle in the US.  This museum honors all of the people of the diaspora through quality programing, education, and exhibits. --Callen


The Mississippi Blues Trail   

The Mississippi Blues Trail is an actual physical trail highlighting the history of the Blues with historical markers.  These markers have a brief description on the front of the importance to this site to the Blues and then a beautiful more complex description on the back.  Some of the markers are even able to play music.  The vast majority of markers are located throughout Mississippi, especially in the Delta where it originated from, and there are some throughout the States and even some in Sweden and France where the Delta Blues have left an impact.  There is a website that has curriculum guides,  a list of Blues Museums along the trail and documentaries.   This past summer I attended a National Endowment of the Humanities Landmark Seminar at Delta State in Cleveland, MS.  At the seminar we spent 10 days studying, traveling and learning about the Blues Trail  and its impact on American History.  In order to get a marker placed there is a rigorous selection committee of scholars and Blues historians that must approve the marker.  The trail is supported by NEH, the National Parks, Department of Transportation, National Endowment of the Arts and Mississippi State Universities.  The Blues Trail has influenced the Freedom Trail Marker that highlights the various movements throughout our history to expand civil rights to all. --Callen


The Murder of Emmett Till- The American Experience PBS Documentary

This documentary traces the journey of Emmett Till from Chicago to Mississippi to see his grandfather in 1955.  One day, with his cousins, they went for gum at a small grocer in Money, MS, and he supposedly whistled at a White woman.  Two days later he was kidnapped from his grandfather’s home, tortured, and shot through the head.  His body was thrown in a nearby river where it was found days later.  Emmett's mother demanded to bring his body back to Chicago where it had an open casket funeral with 1000s in attendance.   Many say the Civil Rights Movement began when Emmett's grandfather pointed at the accused, the first in Mississippi- a Black man openly accusing in court White men of a crime.  The men were acquitted and then later admitted to the crime.  A few months later, when Rosa Parks was arrested she later said she was inspired by this horrific crime.  The PBS websites includes curriculum, transcripts, online forum, primary sources, the shocking confession of the killers to Look magazine and interactive timeline.--Callen


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