One of us is just done celebrating Chanukah and the other is about to head into Christmas festivities. In this week when we’ve felt a bit down about the state of the country and world, we’re offering you a familiar standby.
Here’s This Land is Your Land in a new rendition by Maxwell‘s AllStars, filmed by Boyd Matson, who captured both the recording session and a montage of newsreel films touching on civil rights, immigration, and the variety of people and places that constitute America. The direct YouTube link is here.
Here’s Matson’s description of the film and the list of participating artists.
Courtesy of NPR, an excellent article on the newest visitors to refugee children: the Sesame Street Muppets.
We are fascinated by the research process that Sesame Workshop is up to here.
In partnership with the International Rescue Committee, Sesame producers and early-childhood experts are soliciting guidance and feedback from relief organizations, trauma experts, academics and others who have worked with refugees. They’ll also be making research visits to refugee camps in Jordan.
According to the IRC, of the 65 million people displaced from their homes worldwide, more than half are children.
As American readers, steeped in multiculturalism (not to mention as Bay Area readers, used to a high level of diversity), what stood out the most to us, though, was what children might not be taught.
Cairo Arafat, who oversees production of the Arabic language Sesame Street from Abu Dhabi, urged her colleagues not to make assumptions that refugees will share their values such as inclusivity.
“In many of these populations,” she said, “children are still taught, ‘No. Be wary of the people who don’t talk like you, don’t look like you or come from a different sect.’ ” With the special conditions facing refugees — including security issues — Arafat advised careful thinking about what they would like to teach.
Robertson interviewed Wyclef Jean about a new “extended play” or mini collection, from which Wyclef just released the song “Lady Haiti”. In the interview, Wyclef says, “The key here is that it’s important to know where you come from in order to know where you’re going. Haitians have a very important history. Haitian history is tied to all black history.”
The “Second Line Blues” song reflects the current state of gun violence, the senseless loss of life, mass murders, and police brutality in our communities. It pays homage to many who are known and unknown including Emmett Till, Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Amadou Diallo, Sandra Bland, Walter Scott, Susie Jackson, Sean Bell, Tamir Rice, Ethel Lance, Cynthia Hurd, Eric Garner, Myra Thompson, Daniel Simmons, and the mass killings in Sandy Hook, Columbine, Virginia Tech and many more. It is written and performed by founding member, Louise Robinson. It is inspired by the New Orleans tradition of funeral procession. The first line of the band is the procession and the second line of the procession consists of the mourners.
And a classic by Sam Cooke, “A Change is Gonna Come”. More about its history here from the New Yorker.
A quiet song for the end of the week: Mercy Now, by Mary Gauthier.
Yeah, we all could use a little mercy now
I know we don’t deserve it
But we need it anyhow
We hang in the balance
Dangle ‘tween hell and hallowed ground
Every single one of us could use some mercy now
Every single one of us could use some mercy now
We came to this song via a blog post by Parker Palmer at On Being.
We’ve been working on a couple of series lately, and since we editors are slammed in our ordinary lives, it seems like a good day to collect both of those in one giant in-case-you-missed-it post. Enjoy!
We’re still pursuing resources on music that has motivated movements. Continuing past the music of the civil rights era (which we blogged about here) and the Anti-Apartheid movement, here’s a lesson plan from the New York Times: Teaching With Protest Music.
It has overviews and embedded music from the older movements, but also to music from Beyoncé (***Flawless), Pussy Riot, and Los Tigres del Norte. The article also introduced us to Genius, a remarkable lyrics annotation site.
Here are some of the ELA prompts for students:
About the role of music:
Write and Discuss: Why do you listen to music? How does music make you feel? Does music serve a different role in your life depending on your mood, who you are with or what you are doing? Does music ever cause you to think differently, to feel a part of something larger or to want to rise up and take action?
Engaging with a particular song:
Listen and Annotate: Next, listen to ____________, a protest song from the time period we are studying, while reading along with the printed lyrics. As you listen, annotate by underlining, highlighting or writing in the margins — reacting or responding to anything in the lyrics or in the music itself. (You may want to play the song a second time, if it would be helpful.)
About a song the student has selected:
Bring in Contemporary Music That Speaks to an Issue or Era in the Past: What songs today have something to say about the past, whether because people are still struggling with the same issues, or because the lyrics seem symbolic or ironic when seen through the lens of the past?
There are also links to editorials and op-eds written by scholars and musicians: many great resources and jumping-off points!
Here are a few things that we’ve encountered lately that would be great additions to the classroom, whether during Black History Month or at any other time of the year.
The National Museum of African American History & Culture has an interactive online feature, Collection Stories, curated by NMAAHC staff. Staff members choose an area of focus based on items in the museum’s collection. The resulting stories include images of the items, historical discussion, and thoughts from the curator on why these stories are so important to African American history and culture.
We especially enjoyed “Dress for the Occasion,” a story centered around the dress that Carlotta Walls wore when she integrated Little Rock Central High School in 1957 as one of the Little Rock Nine. Check it out get a glimpse of the school, her diploma, and the process behind choosing the dress that she wore for that first day of school.
From Smithsonian Education, we’d like to highlight two sets of lesson plans. Both include material appropriate for kindergarteners all the way through high school, available for download as zip files.
The Art and Life of William H. Johnson includes detailed information on how the curriculum meets Visual Art, History, and Language Arts standards. Younger students analyze color choices, subject matter, and older students conduct comparative analysis with works from other artists (including this post’s header image, by Allan Rohan Crite).
Finally, The Blues and Langston Hughes does just what you’d think: compares the poetry of Langston Hughes with blues rhythms, structures, and lyrics that most students are probably already familiar with, whether they know it or not. Younger students write their own simple poems; older students dig into the Smithsonian Folkways’ collection of blues recordings from The Great Migration.
And speaking of Smithsonian Folkways…we have one more recommendation after all. Check out Say It Loud for hours from their collection of African American Spoken Word recordings, whether from Langston Hughes himself, an interview with W.E.B. Du Bois, or a recording of Angela Davis.
Music and song offer a unique way to bind people together. From the National Endowment for the Humanities, here’s a lesson plan geared to high school students about the songs of the civil rights movement.
The participants of the civil rights movement recognized the power of song and performance and utilized this form of cultural communication in their quest for equal justice under law… Through collaborative activities and presentations, students will find the meaning behind the music and compare and contrast the major figures, documents, and events of the day to better understand the political and cultural messages.
The lesson also includes lots of resources. You can link to Freedom Sounds from Smithsonian Folkways (also available here), where you can play featured songs for free — including Fannie Lou Hamer singing This Little Light of Mine and Paul Robeson singing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.
For your own enrichment, you might also look at the background essay, The Sixties and Protest Musicby Kerry Candaele, provided by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
We’ll follow up this week with more examples of music as a binding and healing community resource.