2.2 Commemorating the contributions of African-Americans in North Carolina
Provided by UNC Libraries / Documenting the American South.
In this lesson, students will use the Commemorative Landscapes collection to examine North Carolina’s commemoration of the contributions made by African-Americans to our history and society. First, the students will develop a working definition of a “monument.” Then students will examine eight monuments related to the achievements of African Americans in the Commemorative Landscapes database. Lastly, students will reflect on changes and continuities in the way in which the achievements of African Americans are remembered in North Carolina.
- identify and describe the achievements of African Americans represented in North Carolina monuments.
- analyze changes and continuities in which achievements of African Americans are commemorated in North Carolina’s public monuments.
- understand the meaning of “monument.”
Time required for lesson
One 90-minute class or two 45-minute classes
- Notebook paper
- ABC Brainstorm Chart
- Commemorating African Americans Semantic Feature Analysis Chart — one per student
- Access to the Commemorative Landscapes collection
- Computer lab or individual student computers
- Have students work independently to complete an ABC Brainstorm Chart for the word “monument.” Remind students that they should include any word or concept that they think of when they hear the word “monument.”
- Have students compare their lists in pairs.
- Share out common ideas and terms as a class. Student answers will likely include the idea that monuments are related to people, ideas, or events that are considered important.
- Explain that different people, ideas, and events are considered important at different times in history and that the achievements of African Americans have been valued differently throughout the history of the state of North Carolina. Highlight that the goal of the day’s lesson is to examine monuments that have been erected to honor African Americans in North Carolina and to see whether the types of contributions being honored have changed, stayed the same, or both.
- Display the Commemorative Landscapes collection and explain that this is a new online database that presents a variety of monuments and other commemorative landscapes across North Carolina.
- Go to the Browse Monuments feature of the site and explain that this database allows us to narrow our search based on the:
- subject (who or what the monument is depicting)
- time period in which a monument was erected
- county and city in which the commemorative site resides
- type of monument.
- Ask the students which search criteria would be most appropriate if we want to learn about monuments that have been erected to honor African Americans in North Carolina. Help support your students’ selection of the “Subject” heading.
- Highlight the various ways that we can narrow our searches based on the subject of a monument. Ask the students which subheading they think would be most appropriate if we are hoping to learn about monuments erected to honor African Americans in North Carolina. Help facilitate their selection of the “Historic African American Figures” search subheading.
- Divide the class into small groups and ask them to examine the eight monuments under this subheading. Using the Commemorating African Americans Semantic Feature Analysis (SFA) Chart, ask the students to outline who was honored, when they were honored, and for what reason. Explain that they should leave the “Changes/Continuities” column of the chart blank while they are examining the monuments.
- After finishing the SFA chart, students should look for patterns in the information they collected and note them in the “Changes/Continuities” column of their charts. A few questions that might help them with this task are:
- Does the type of person being honored change, or stay the same? Does it stay the same for part of the time and then change?
- Do the reasons why people are being honored seem mostly similar, or mostly different? If there is a change, around what time does it take place?
- What patterns do you notice about the years in which African Americans have been honored with monuments in North Carolina? What about patterns relating to where those monuments are?
- Bring the class together to discuss their findings and small group discussions.
- As an extension activity, ask your students to research and learn about other contemporary African American leaders that could be recognized in a new monument to be built in North Carolina. If you decide to expand upon this, you might have your students design a monument and write a letter to the Governor explaining why this individual deserves to be honored through the proposed commemoration.
- Evaluate student writing against the information provided through class activities.
- Gauge student participation in class discussions.