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African Unit 4

From Africa to African-American Cultural Awareness & Shifting Identities within the Context of Race and Slavery

Name: Kay Blalock, Ph.D.

College: Saint Louis Community College - Meramec

Discipline: History

Module Title: “From African to African American Cultural Awareness and Shifting Identities Within the Context of Race and Slavery in the British Colonies in North America”

Narrative Description of the Module: The importance of understanding race slavery, its evolution as a legal institution in the thirteen British colonies in North America as well as the creation of African-American culture based on African roots and the ethnocentric components related to region, and its impact on United States history cannot be stressed enough. Traditional textbooks, unfortunately, offer little to no material related to African culture and its importance to understanding the experiences of Africans and their descendants in British colonial America. One must turn to the textbooks written for African American history courses to gain this insight. I contend that this information could and should be a component of a standard U.S. history course. The module created for this project will offer background information on African history and culture, prior to and during European contact, that could be incorporated into a tradition U.S. history (to 1865) course.
Educational Objectives of the Module
Objectives for this module appear as components of the general education goals and student learning outcomes for social and behavioral sciences at STLCC. The ones applicable for this project: (1) describe social institutions, structures and processes and their evolution across a range of historical periods and cultures, (2) articulate the interconnectedness of people, places, and cultures around the globe, (3) develop an informed sense of self in relationship to the larger world, (4) develop and communicate hypothetical explanations for individual and group behavior within the large-scale historical and social contexts.

Detailed outline of main themes (with accompanying content notes) to be included in the Lectures/Discussions Used to Implement the Module
  1. Why study Africa in an American/U.S. History class?
    1. African disaspora
    2. Slavery in British North America
    3. Impact of African history and culture on American/U.S. history
  2. African history and culture
    1. The People
      1. Regions/Ethnic groups/Kingdoms
      2. Their history
    2. Culture (for each of the above)
      1. Language
      2. Religion/Spirituality
      3. Food
      4. Community/Social Structure
      5. Self-Expression
        1. Clothing
        2. Hair Styles
        3. Tattoos/piercing/body painting
        4. Adornment (jewelry)
        5. Artistic Endeavors (visual/song/dance)
    3. Creolization
  3. The Diaspora (to British North America) & Its Consequences
    1. Slavery
      1. Atlantic [triangular] slave trade [El Mina]
      2. Middle PAssage
      3. The race-slavery distinction
    2. The evolution of race-slavery in British North America
      1. Beginnings
        1. No slave statutes in British North America
        2. Indentured servitude
        3. Freedom/slavery no inevitable
      2. Shifting ideas and legislation
        1. The religious factor
        2. The labor fator
          1. Non-plantation
          2. Plantation
        3. The physical "other"
        4. Bacon's Rebellion
      3. Regional distinctions
        1. Urban v. rural
        2. Northeast-non-plantation
        3. Chesapeake-plantations/small farms
        4. Carolinas-plantation/small farms (in north) & the Barbados factor
      4. African to African-American
        1. Owners false perceptions
        2. Necessity
        3. Level of African-ness
          1. Location
          2. Type of labor expected
  4. African-American history & culture is also American/U.S. history & culture
    1. Beyond colonial America (short summary)
    2. Beyond slavery (short summary)
Listing of Audio-Visuals Used to Implement the Module (provide electronic links to sites where they can be accessed)
  1. PBS Series Africans in America, Episode 1, “The Terrible Transformation
  2. PBS Series The African Americans Many Rivers to Cross, Episode 1, “The Black Atlantic, 1500-1800
  3. Africa: A History Denied "Time Life Lost Civilizations Series"
  4. The Learning Channel, "Africa Before the Europeans"
  5. PBS Series Wonders of the African World with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Student Readings (links to sites where readings can be accessed electronically or by purchase)
  1. Joseph E. Halloway, Ph.D., “African Contributions to American Culture,” from The Slave Rebellion Website
  2. Jubilee: The Emergence of African American Culture
  3. Reviewed in African American Review, Vol. 37, No. 4. Winter, 2003. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
  4. Basil Davidson and F.K. Buah, “A History of West Africa 1000-1800” in The Growth of African Civilisation (1965)
Writing/Field/Experiential Assignments Used to Implement the Module
See below under student evaluation. These activities/assignments have been incorporated into the evaluation/assessment component of the module.
Student Evaluation/Testing Regarding the Module
A variety of assessment tools can be used to test the proficiency of a learner in relationship to the above mentioned learning objectives. Description, articulation, and development relate to learning abilities in which expectations rely on written and group activities infused with critical thinking. The following assessments related to each of the objectives:
  1. Each learner will select one African American cultural component (language; family structure; religion, for example—this list can be expanded to include other cultural factors) and describe its African roots and how it hindered and/or aided the formation of community within the limitations of the institution of race slavery by composing a 3-5 page essay.
  2. Each learner will explain to a group of peers how African culture faired within the institution of race slavery in America. To do this, a student will be assigned a particular ethnic group [or region] from Africa, where they may be found in the British colonies in North America, whether the labor system is non-plantation or plantation based and then articulate their findings and thoughts to others in a pre-determined group. Each member of the group will have a different ‘assignment.’ As a group, the learners will assess the victimization and/or influence/impact of the Africans and their offspring in and on American history.
  3. For each learning component of the module, the learner will keep a journal for reflection on the material and their understanding of how this perspective of early American history has or hasn’t changed their ideas about the importance of a global addition to such. How does this “new” way of approaching United States history influence their understanding of not only the past but how this new perspective may impact their ideas about the present issues related to African Americans (equality; community; justice; culture).
  4. Each learner will formulate a connection between African culture and how individuals and/or groups of slave(s) reacted to their American experience. They will bring this/these ideas forward in open class discussions led by the instructor.
Resources (Bibliography) Used to Develop-Implement the Module (where feasible provide links to where resources can be accessed electronically)
  1. Bahl, Vik, Austin M. Ahanotu, Africa, Vol. 2: African Cultures and Societies Before 1885 (Carolina Academic Press, 2000).
  2. Berlin, Ira. Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America (Belknap Press, 2000)
  3. The Making of African America: The Four Great Migrations (Penguin Books Rreprint, 2010).
  4. “From Creole to African: Atlantic Creoles and the Origins of African-American Society in Mainland North America” in Edward Countryman, ed., How Did American Slavery Begin? (Bedford Press, 1999)
  5. Diop, Cheikh Anta. Pre-Colonial Black Africa, 7th edition (Chicago review Press, 1988).
  6. Harris, Joseph E. Africans and their History, Second Revised Edition (Plume, 1998).
  7. Hine, Darlene Clark, William C. Hine, Stanley Harrold. The African-American Odyssey (Prentice Hall, 2000).
  8. Opie, Frederick Douglass. Hog & Hominy: Soul Food from Africa to America (Columbia University Press, 2008)
  9. Shillington, Kevil. History of Africa, 3rd edition, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).
  10. Smallwood, Stephanie E. Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora (Harvard University Press, 2008).
  13. Journal of West African History (any applicable articles)
(Other works not yet identified)