Friday, January 27, 2012

Black History Month Curriculum Resource: The Harlem Renaissance

Black History Month is coming up, and it happens to coincide with the time we are studying the history of the 1920's and 1930's.  So what better topic to combine the two than the Harlem Renaissance?

We have already been working on it some, but I recently found what I think is a fantastic resource.  John Carroll University has created the Harlem Renaissance Multimedia Resource, which pulls so much information about this fascinating period of modern American history into a central site.  

What I love about this website--beside the fact that it is FREE--is that it includes not only the aspects of the Harlem Renaissance that most of us tend to think about, such as the music and the literature, but also the politics, the philosophy, the education, and even the international connections.  There is a whole section on religion as well; in fact, throughout the entire site I saw the predecessors of Martin Luther King Jr's thoughts, philosophies, actions, and words.  It not only has multimedia resources--pictures, audio, and a little video (all that I found was Billie Holiday)--but also lots of links to other websites with even more comprehensive information on that particular topic.  

Particularly helpful to me were the timelines included and the map of Harlem itself.  It has a general timeline of the political and artistic events during that period, which helps me put things in order.  Even more interesting to us right now, however, was the timeline of the music.  My son has been getting more interested in jazz, about which I am not that knowledgable (confessional--even though two of my brothers were performers, students, and aficionados of that musical genre, and my father is at least a long-time fan).  The timeline helped me understand how ragtime gradually morphed into swing, with dates, different jazz styles, artist bios, and short audios of outstanding pieces along the way.

So if you are looking for resources about black musicians, writers, thinkers, educators, or politicians, this  website is a great place to look.

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