Civil Rights studies, within the context of Black History Month, give us a great opportunity to expand our umbrella of understanding in order to encompass other groups that experience racism, discrimination and prejudice. In addition, deepening our understanding of the ties that bind us together in our struggles can help all of us recognize that fighting against injustice does not have to be an extraordinary act, rather, our students can recognize that fighting for what is right is ingrained in all of us and can be taken up from small acts to significant feats. Today, my suggestion for teaching that lesson is to study the history, culture, society, struggle and successes of African diasporas in Latin America and the Caribbean. The history of Afro-Latino/as has long been denied a place on the stage, which is a shame because of the rich civil rights lessons this history provides. What happens if one of your students sees a face that looks more like theirs engaged in a struggle for rights? What happens if opening the doors to include more civil rights discussions makes a student realize that his or her family history is also one of struggle and fight? Well, I’ll let you tell me that after you use these great resources!
- Includes biography, 2 lesson plans, and multimedia resources based off the graphic novel Robeson in Spain. These resources teach about African American actor Paul Robeson’s activism against fascism during the Spanish Civil war. As a bonus, play Robeson’s famous rendition of Ol’ Man River from the musical Showboat, itself a musical about racism and social justice.
- PBS has a new special– Black in Latin America – which traces the history of the slave trade to Latin America and follows the legacy of culture, politics, society and experience of Afro-Latinos. Professor Henry Gates Jr. addresses what it meant to be Afro-Latino through history and what that identity means now. All episodes are available through the PBS web site and are appropriate for 8th-12th grades. In addition, the site offers other resources and a lesson plan on Race in the Cuban Revolution.
- African American Heritage in Latin America offers maps, old photographs, newspaper articles, scholarly writings and more on the history of the African Diaspora in Latin America.
- Our sister university in Latin American Studies, Tulane, offers a lesson plan on Exploration of the African Diaspora in Latin America. It includes geography, social studies, history, literature and art.
–Jus’ keeps rollin’ along,