7th and 8th Graders Visit America’s Roots

After examining the incidents of racial violence that sparked the Black Lives Matter movement, 7th and 8th graders turned to history to answer the questions: How did we get here? What is the thread that connects the past to the present? In their yearlong expedition, “From Frederick Douglass to Ferguson,” students embark on a historical journey through slavery, reconstruction, the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Civil Rights Movement, seeking connections to help them make sense of their world and to forge a vision for the future.DSC_3575
On Tuesday, students conducted fieldwork at the Museum of African American History, using primary source documents to piece together their understanding of history. They sat in the pews of the African Meeting House and learned how it was built in 1806 by the free African community that thrived in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood in the late 1700s and early 1800s. They recited the words of abolitionist men and women while standing in the same pulpit from which those leaders spoke.DSC_3568
School was held on the ground floor of the Meeting House until the community was able to build the Abiel Smith School, the first building in the nation constructed for the sole purpose of housing a black public school, next door in 1835. The old school building now houses museum exhibits including a special exhibit called Freedom Rising: Reading, Writing and Publishing Black Books. The students were awed to be treading the same floor boards as their heroes and were proud to learn more of the history of these educators and abolitionists in their hometown.
Next week, students will choose from a rich selection of contemporary young adult novels written by and about Black, Latino, and Asian-American authors that speak to issues that shape their lives and communities. These independent reading books will spark more connections, questions, and conversations. Join the conversation—ask 7th and 8th graders what they are reading.

To learn more about the museum, its history and exhibits check out www.maah.org and make a plan to visit!