“The African slave who sailed to the New World did not sail alone. People brought their culture, no matter how adverse the circumstances. And therefore part of America is African.” Henry Louis Gates Jr.
When I started on the quest to select curriculum for my two homeschoolers, I especially wanted to find a History curriculum that would provide a much broader view of the people of African descent and their experiences in America. I guess you could say that I was very naive in believing a non-minority owned textbook company would have what I wanted. For a brief second, I honestly believed that the material available to homeschoolers would be more inclusive than what is used in public schools. After searching and searching, I came to the realization that I would have to build my own curriculum.
The Henry Louis Gates quote pretty much sums-up why I decided to start our history lessons on the continent of Africa. I have it never doubted or denied my African-ness. In fact, I became more aware of it when I moved to Atlanta 10 years ago. Almost everywhere I went, African (born) people would stop and ask: “Sister, are you from Nigeria?” I’d smile and answer, “No, I’m from Indiana.” After being asked that for the 20th time, I started asking people why they asked me that question and I paid more attention to the features of those Nigerians who thought I was a countryman. And I kept looking at them and studying their faces. Then I’d look in the mirror and study mine. Time and time again. Then I finally ‘saw’ what they ‘saw’ and I was both speechless and excited. I can’t really explain how the excitement felt, but if you’ve ever been in a college-level history or anthropology class when all of your White classmates are talking about their heritage and the numbers of relatives who came from Ireland, Poland, Germany, etc., and all you can say is ‘Somewhere in Africa’ then you know what I mean. It’s about being able to say “I Belong” to this continent/country/people/culture. When you don’t know, that is a sad feeling; at least it was for me.
So we actually started our Journey Along The Coast of Western Africa lesson last week by watching the Globe Trekker DVD on Western Africa (Pilot Productions). Even though I intended for the girls to only watch the segment on Senegal and and Sierra Leone, they ended up watching another one. I guess that’s proof that kids will explore when given the opportunity! I’ve included a download link for what we plan to cover, how, and with what resources. This is a general start and I am sure I will make changes as we go. Hope someone finds it useful!
Along The Western Coast of Africa Lesson Guide & Resource List (FREE)