Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Black History

We're beginning a new study, looking at black history from Africa to America.  We are using the book A Kid's Guide to African American History as a spine and working our way through.

Yesterday we read about the ancient African kingdoms of Nubia and Egypt. We made sandstone columns. They were a little crumbly to carve so we thought we'd wait to carve them when they hardened. Yeah. Today they are too hard. Oh, well. It was fun to play with sand in December. 

Impatiently waiting for the dough to cool

Molding it into a column


Today we started and read half-way through the exciting book, The Slave Ship by Emma Gelders Sterne This is the story of the ship , the Amistad, which was a sugar schooner from Cuba overtaken by slaves recently arrived from Africa in 1839. They captured the ship and attempted to sail back to Africa. The white navigator onboard tricked them into sailing to America where their case was heard by the supreme court and, unbelievably, they were sent back to Africa!

The story is exciting and sometimes funny and it is giving us LOTS to talk about. We are exploring the attitudes of the Cuban slave trader (the poor Africans are better off now that they live in a civilized country), the Cuban plantation owners (examining the slaves on the auction block, considering them as stupid and animal-like, even as they sail the ship), the young slave boy of the captain who, although black was born into slavery and considers the Africans as stupid and ungrateful for their opportunities (since he is given beautiful clothes and a job for an important man). We are discussing the importance of material goods and a "civilized" life vs. freedom and fewer opportunities. We are seeing the brutality (although not over the top for an 8 and 10 year old) of the life of the African slaves. Most of all, we are getting a wonderful picture of the humanity of the African people, their pride and spirit.

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