Black History Storytelling

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies – African American History (Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass), People Who Make A Difference

Language Arts – Story Telling, Literature

Possible Art Concepts: Art History –  Jacob Lawrence, Faith Ringgold

Illustration, Egg Tempera, Story Quilts

As promised in my last post, I will be covering storytelling artists, not just any old story telling artists, but African American storytelling artists.

In their fourth grade year, our students study their home state, Maryland. It just so happens that Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass were born on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It, also, just so happens that Jacob Lawrence painted two series of storytelling paintings illustrating the lives of Harriet Tubman’s and Frederick Douglass’ life. (If Lawrence sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve talked about him before in this post.) So, in my teaching days, when I wanted to correlate with Social Studies, I often incorporated Jacob Lawrence themed lessons. Read more about Lawrence and Harriet Tubman here. Lawrence later incorporated some of Tubman’s painting series in a picture book entitled, Harriet and the Promised Land. You can find a video narration of this book here. You can find examples of the Frederick Douglass series here and here.

When I taught Jacob Lawrence, I would teach him in conjunction with drawing an action figure similar to how it is taught here. We would look at the lives of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass through Jacob Lawrence’s eyes. Sometimes, we’d investigate Tubman’s and Douglass’ life more closely and students would choose one life event and illustrate it.

Other times, I asked students to illustrate an event in their own lives.

This time, I asked students to illustrate their favorite event during Barack Obama’s election.

Another African American artist who painted Black history is Faith Ringgold. She’s famous for her story quilts, some of which she turned into picture books which I’ve mentioned here before.  Ringgold also wrote and illustrated a historical fiction book about Harriet Tubman, entitled Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky. You can find a video of this picture book here.

As you can see, whether you are studying African American history, people who make a difference, or simply are looking for a good book for story time, you can easily incorporate a little art history and art concepts.

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I’d love to hear your thoughts. Simply click on the title of this post and scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the comment section.

Happy Black History Month! Drop by again soon.


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