Engaging the African Diaspora in K-12 Education

by Kia Caldwell (Volume editor) Emily Chávez (Volume editor)
©2020 Textbook XXVIII, 326 Pages


Engaging the African Diaspora in K-12 Education provides in-service and pre-service teachers with valuable information and resources related to African diaspora communities in the United States, Europe, and Latin America. This unique anthology fills an important gap in current pedagogical and curricular publications by combining the writings of leading scholars of the African diaspora with practical, hands-on tips and resources from middle and high school teachers and administrators. Drawing on cutting-edge academic scholarship, chapters of the book address topics such as the transatlantic slave trade, slavery in Latin America, the Haitian Revolution, the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, Pan-Africanism, Black German Studies, and literature and art by Black women in the diaspora. In addition, Engaging the African Diaspora in K-12 Education includes chapters on anti-racist education, use of the performing arts to teach African American history, and critical reflections by several middle and high school teachers on practices they have adopted to increase their students’ exposure to the African diaspora in the classroom.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Figures
  • Tables
  • Contributors
  • Acknowledgments
  • Foreword (Edmund T. Gordon)
  • Introduction (Kia Lilly Caldwell / Emily Susanna CháVez)
  • Part 1: Slavery and Emancipation in the Americas
  • Chapter One: Afro-Latin Americans Within and Beyond Colonial Enslavement (Rachel Sarah O’Toole)
  • Chapter Two: “A Mixture of Love and Pain”: Teaching Enslaved Women’s Labor, Motherhood, and Reproductive Resistance (Signe Peterson Fourmy)
  • Chapter Three: Why Haiti Should Be at the Center of the Age of Revolution (Laurent Dubois)
  • Chapter Four: Teaching the History of Slavery Beyond the United States (Kia Lilly Caldwell)
  • Part 2: Pan-Africanism and Perspectives across the Diaspora
  • Chapter Five: Pan-Africanism: Roots, Evolution, and Global Impact (Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja)
  • Chapter Six: Telling Stories of Home: Pedagogy, Practice and the Potential for Lasting Change (Tanya L. Shields / Kathy A. Perkins)
  • Chapter Seven: Using Black German Studies to Dissect Race in the American Classroom (Priscilla Layne)
  • Part 3: Black Communities and Movements in the United States
  • Chapter Eight: In Search of the ‘Twenty and Odd’: Reclaiming the Humanity of America’s First Africans in the Virginia Colony (Cassandra Newby-Alexander)
  • Chapter Nine: Let Freedom Sing!: An Interview on African American Music with Mary D. Williams (Emily Susanna CháVez)
  • Chapter Ten: Challenging the Master Narrative: Teaching the Civil Rights Movement Accurately and Effectively (Hasan Kwame Jeffries)
  • Part 4: Centering Afro-Latin American Experiences
  • Chapter Eleven: Transnational Blackness: Theoretical, Curricular, and Pedagogical Considerations for Contextualizing Afro-Latin@ Identity in U.S. History Courses (Christopher L. Busey / Elizabeth Milligan Cordova)
  • Chapter Twelve: The Importance of Recognizing (Fabiola Salas Villalobos)
  • Chapter Thirteen: Ethnography As Decolonial Pedagogy in Ecuador: Youth-Led Research and Learning (Alysa M. Handelsman)
  • Part 5: Teaching Critically about the African Diaspora
  • Chapter Fourteen: Discomforting: The Need for Culturally Relevant Professional Development for K–12 Educators (Sharbari Dey)
  • Chapter Fifteen: Challenging White-Washed Curriculum: A Critical Race Theory Approach (Ronda Taylor Bullock)
  • Chapter Sixteen: Teaching the African Diaspora with Primary Sources (John B. Gartrell)
  • Chapter Seventeen: Bibliographic Resources for Learning About and Teaching the African Diaspora (Mireille Djenno)
  • Part 6: African Diaspora-Centered Professional Development: Reflections from Educators and Curriculum Specialists
  • Chapter Eighteen: Expanding the Presence of the African Diaspora in Schools (Daniel Kelvin Bullock)
  • Chapter Nineteen: The Making of a Scholar: Building Educators’ Competence and Expertise for Teaching the African Diaspora (Michelle Mclaughlin / Justyn Knox)
  • Chapter Twenty: Teaching As Everyday Resistance (Holly Marie Jordan)
  • Chapter Twenty-One: A New Focus (Savannah Blystone)
  • Chapter Twenty-Two: Immersing a Middle School Social Studies Classroom in the African Diaspora: My Journey As an African Diaspora Fellow (Sashir Pasha Moore-Sloan)
  • Part 7: Curriculum Resource Guides
  • Chapter Twenty-Three: “I am unbreakable”: Developing and Maintaining Identity and Other Forms of Resistance to the Transatlantic Slave Trade (Savannah Blystone)
  • Chapter Twenty-Four: The Haitian Revolution: Its History and Connection to the Negritude Movement (Diane Smith)
  • Chapter Twenty-Five: Resistance Rhetoric: Analyzing Activist Texts from Abolition to #BlackLivesMatter (Holly Marie Jordan)


Savannah Blystone, B.S., Teacher, Gates County High School, Email: blystonesw@gatescountyschools.net

Daniel Kelvin Bullock, Ph.D., Executive Director for Equity Affairs, Durham Public Schools, Durham, NC. Email: Daniel.Bullock@dpsnc.net

Ronda Taylor Bullock, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Executive Director, we are: working to extend anti-racist education, Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity, Duke University, Email: ronda@weare-nc.org

Christopher L. Busey, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Curriculum, Teaching and Teacher Education, School of Teaching and Learning, University of Florida, Email: cbusey@coe.ufl.edu

Kia Lilly Caldwell, Ph.D., Professor, African, African American, and Diaspora Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Email: klcaldwe@email.unc.edu

Emily Susanna Chávez, M.A.T., M.F.A., Director of Equity and Justice, Duke School, Email: emilyschavez@gmail.com

Elizabeth Milligan Cordova, M.A., History Teacher and Social Studies Team Lead, High Tech Early College, Email: elizabeth_milligan@dpsk12.org

Shabari Dey, M.S.W., Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Manager, IPAS, Chapel Hill, NC. Email: sharbari.k.dey@gmail.com

Mireille Djenno, M.A., M.L.I.S., African Studies Librarian, Herman B Wells Library, Indiana, Email: mdjenno@indiana.edu←xv | xvi→

Laurent Dubois, Ph.D., Professor of Romance Studies and History and Faculty Director of the Forum for Scholars & Publics, Duke University. Email: Laurent.dubois@duke.edu

Signe Peterson Fourmy, J.D., Doctoral Candidate, Department of History, University of Texas at Austin. Email: signepfourmy@utexas.edu

John B. Gartrell, M.A., Director, John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University, Email: john.gartrell@duke.edu

Edmund T. Gordon, Ph.D., Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies and Vice Provost for Diversity, The University of Texas at Austin, Email: etgordon@austin.utexas.edu

Alysa M. Handelsman, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Sociology, Wofford College, Email: handelsmanam@wofford.edu

Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Ph.D., Associate Professor of African American History, The Ohio State University, Email: Jeffries.57@osu.edu

Holly Marie Jordan, B.A., Teacher, International Baccalaureate, Hillside High School, Email: holly.jordan@dpsnc.net; hollymariejordan@gmail.com

Justyn Knox, M.Ed., K-12 Social Studies Education Consultant and State Schools of Character Coordinator, K-12 Standards, Curriculum, & Instruction Division, NC Department of Public Instruction, Email: justyn.knox@dpi.nc.gov

Priscilla Layne, Ph.D., Associate Professor of German, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Email: playne@email.unc.edu

Michelle McLaughlin, M.A., K-12 Social Studies Consultant, K-12 Standards, Curriculum, & Instruction Division, NC Department of Public Instruction, Email: michelle.mclaughlin@dpi.nc.gov

Sashir Pasha Moore-Sloan, B.A., Social Studies Teacher, Durham Public Schools, Email: sashir.moore-sloan@dpsnc.net

Cassandra Newby-Alexander, Ph.D., Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Professor of History, Norfolk State University, Email: clnewby-alexander@nsu.edu

Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, Ph.D., Professor of African and Global Studies, Department of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Email: nzongola@email.unc.edu

Rachel Sarah O’Toole, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History, University of California—Irvine. Email: rotoole@uci.edu

Kathy A. Perkins, M.F.A., Professor Emerita, Department of Dramatic Art and independent scholar, Email: kaperkin@unc.edu

Tanya L. Shields, Ph.D., Department of Women’s & Gender Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Email: tshields@unc.edu

Diane Smith, M.Ed., Teacher, East Mecklenburg High School, Email: diane.smith@cms.k12.nc.us←xvi | xvii→

Fabiola Salas Villalobos, B.S., Doctoral Student, School of Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, fasavi@live.unc.edu

Mary D. Williams, M.A., Gospel Singer, Afro-American Historian Studies, Email: profafroamerican@gmail.com


This book has been a collective and collaborative endeavor. We want to express appreciation to the many people who were directly or indirectly involved with supporting the writing and publication of this book, as well as the African Diaspora Fellows Program (ADFP), which gave birth to it. This book and the ADFP would not have been possible without generous support from the Institute for the Study of the Americas and African Studies Center, both at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Duke University. Staff from these centers were early supporters of ADFP and provided much needed time, energy, expertise, and financial support to develop the program. These centers were also key financial contributors to this book project. We want to thank Beatriz Riefkohl Muniz for introducing us, as well as for supporting ADFP and this book project. Natalie Hartman, Barbara Anderson, and Stacey Sewall were also critical supporters of the work represented in this book. Thank you all for seeing the value and importance of the work we wanted to do and for making our ideas and dreams a reality!

Our collaborators in the field of education at the local and state level have also been an integral part of the journey that has led to this book. We appreciate the enormous time, commitment, enthusiasm and hard work that members of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Social Studies team put into creating and implementing ADFP. The expertise and contributions of Michelle McLaughlin, Justyn Knox, Fay Gore, Ann Carlock, and Craston Artis ←xix | xx→were instrumental in making the program and this book resources that can be used by teachers in North Carolina, as well as other states and countries. Daniel Kelvin Bullock, of the Durham Public Schools, was also an invaluable contributor to ADFP. Other key members of our team include John B. Gartrell, of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture at Duke University, Mireille Djenno, of Indiana University, as well as Claude Clegg, Fabiola Salas Villalobos and Rita G. O’Sullivan of UNC-Chapel Hill.

Imari Z. Smith and Will Griffin assisted with the planning and implementation of our 2016 ADFP Summer Institute. We are grateful for your hard work and contributions; they were critical to the success of the summer institute. Thank you to Briana Humes, who transcribed the interview with Mary Williams in this book. We also want to express appreciation to Brionca Taylor for providing critical assistance with manuscript editing and formatting in the final stages of compiling this book. We could not have finished the book without your help, Brionca. We appreciate the funding support we received from Eunice Sahle and UNC’s Department of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies for Brionca’s research assistantship.

Several centers and institutes at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University have contributed financial resources to the African Diaspora Fellows Program, as well as this book project. We are extremely grateful for the support we received from UNC’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies, and Center for the Study of the American South, as well as the Duke University Office of Global Affairs and Hanscom Endowment. This project was also supported by the Mellon Foundation, as well as funding from U.S. Department of Education Title VI grants, which were awarded to the UNC African Studies Center and Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University. A Humanities in the Public Sphere grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities supported our 2016 Summer Institute. Special thanks to Tanya L. Shields and Kathy A. Perkins for inviting us to be a part of the proposal for this grant and for creating the Telling our Stories of Home Project, which took place at UNC in 2016. A Research and Study Leave from the UNC College of Arts and Sciences in the spring of 2018 provided Kia with release time to work on this book.

We are indebted to the scholars who gave presentations and engaged in discussions with our Fellows and team members during the summers of 2015 and 2016. Many of them have their work included in this book. Last, but certainly not least, we want to thank the teachers who participated in the African Diaspora Fellows Program, especially our 2016–2017 Fellows, and all of the contributors to this book. Thank you for your willingness both to learn and share your knowledge as we all work to enhance and expand the curricular resources offered on the African diaspora.



edmund t. gordon

Both the idea and the facts of the African or Black diaspora are products of Western modernity. This era known as modernity is marked by the advent and eventual global dominance of racial capitalism and anti-black racial formation as well as Black life pursued within and outside them. The invention of chattel slavery and its articulation with blackness resulted in the development of this anti-blackness experienced as commodification, forced labour, social death, spatial segregation, and genocide. Within these structures and processes Black people created subjectivities and collectivities from social memories, cultural harmonies, and mutual experiences of subjection and resistance. These processes produced the self-made identities, cultures, and politics of blackness that are the core components of the African or Black diaspora. Over time, scholars and others have utilized different combinations of these elements in their elaboration of the African diaspora as a concept.

Among the most common of these approaches, perhaps the earliest, is to think of the African diaspora as racial fact. Here we have the idea of Africans as a product of the European creation of the idea of civilized whiteness in which Africa, as the opposite to Europe, is understood to be inhabited by inferior, savage, non-Christian, uncivilized beings who are Black with wooly hair and large noses. According to this version Africans were tragically transported by Europeans to the Americas to be racialized, modernized, and civilized. The Diaspora as racial fact, then, is the dispersal and contemporary presence of these phenotypically racialized ←xxi | xxii→beings from sub-Sahara Africa in the Americas and elsewhere. In other words, the African diaspora is composed of those people who look Black and who are discernably of African descent. This is the African diaspora of Rudyard Kipling and Marcus Garvey. This notion of diaspora is increasingly popular among scholars and activists in Central America and some countries of Latin America.

A closely related concept is that of the African diaspora as a historic demographic fact. This notion of diaspora tracks the massive transatlantic movement of ten to twelve million humans from sub-Saharan Africa to the Americas and the subsequent proliferation and migrations of the descendants of these people throughout the hemisphere. Hence the African diaspora of early scholars Philip Curtin (1969) and Joseph E. Harris (1990).

The idea of African diaspora as a racial condition takes global racial formation and the fact of global anti-black racism as the key condition of the diaspora. Here the global social processes of slavery, colonialism, segregation, discrimination, racial terror and genocide are understood to be constitutive of the African diaspora. This notion of diaspora was a key aspect of W.E.B Dubois’s pioneering work The Negro (1915) and has more recently been adopted by anthropologist João Vargas (2005) and others. It is also the African diaspora of Pan-Africanism scholars, activists, and politicians, Kwame Nkrumah, George Padmore, Léopolde Sédar Senghor, and Frantz Fanon. These men were instrumental in the national liberation movements in Africa and the Caribbean of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. More recent scholarship has made women’s vital participation more visible.1 The notion of diaspora of such Pan-Africanists is very close to the notion of the African diaspora as a politics of racial redemption. It has a long history in the processes of transnational Black self-making. Important examples include the Haitian Revolution, Maroon societies or Quilombos like Palmares, Brazil, the Anti-colonial movements—Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Jamaica, and the numerous and wide spread movements of collective racial identity, mobilized against anti-black oppression that created moral communities of collective practice and revolt such as the Black Panther Party here in the U.S.


ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2020 (April)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2020. XXVIII, 326 pp., 12 b/w ill., 4 tables

Biographical notes

Kia Caldwell (Volume editor) Emily Chávez (Volume editor)

Kia Lilly Caldwell is Professor of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is Director of the African Diaspora Fellows Program and served as Co-Director with Emily Chávez from 2014 to 2018. Emily Susanna Chávez is Director of Equity and Justice at Duke School, an independent school in Durham, North Carolina. She was the African Diaspora Fellows Program Co-Director from 2014 to 2018.


Title: Engaging the African Diaspora in K-12 Education
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