"Hidden Histories" of African American Women in Philadelphia, Building a More Perfect Union from the 1700s to the Present
In the summer of 2022, teachers participated in an Advanced Summer Institute sponsored by the Philadelphia Writing Project (PhilWP) and hosted by the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) and Independence National Historical Park. During the one-week institute, teachers began exploring "Hidden Histories of African American Women in Philadelphia" and preparing to integrate these histories into classroom practices. Check out the institute website.
The institute was supported by a grant from the National Writing Project funded by the National Endowment of Humanities. The Philadelphia grant, “Hidden Histories of African American Women in Philadelphia, Building a More Perfect Union from the 1700s to the present" references the book, They Carried Us: The Social Impact of Philadelphia's Black Women Leaders (Baker-Rogers & Traylor 2020). They Carried Us chronicles the incredibly important work of African American women in Philadelphia.
During the 2022-2023 school year, PhilWP and AAMP hosted a “Hidden Histories” Panel Series. The panel series featured educators, scholars, activists, and community members who reflected on the work of African American women leaders in Philadelphia. Events were open to the public and included tours of exhibitions at AAMP. Check out images and recordings of the panels below.
The panel series and the institute also connected to work PhilWP teacher consultants have been doing to develop curriculum materials and professional development to support civically engaged argument writing in K-12 classrooms, which is supported by a Teaching with Primary Sources grant from the Library of Congress. Working across grant projects, PhilWP hosted a webinar on "Searching for digitized historical primary sources about Black women leaders in Philadelphia."
Saturday, October 15, 2022
"Connecting the Archival Dots: The Social and Environmental Impact of Philadelphia’s Black Women Leaders in three Classrooms"
Three PhilWP teacher consultants co-facilitated a panel at the annual Celebration of Writing and Literacy at the Penn Museum. The session presenters attended the 2022 PhilWP Advanced Institute offered in collaboration with the African American Museum in Philadelphia. This institute, “Making Visible the Hidden Histories of African American Women in Philadelphia,” was funded by an NEH grant and supported by the NWP and the Library of Congress’s Teaching with Primary Sources Partner Program. The session featured examples from Eileen Lawson’s 6th and 7th grade family interview and scrapbook projects from Childs Elementary School in the School District of Philadelphia, Dr. Kathleen Murphey’s students’ multimodal projects at the Community College of Philadelphia, and Dr. Jasmine Yarish’s University of the District of Columbia students’ work that focuses on environmentalism and abolitionism with an eye on Black women in and around Philadelphia.
Saturday, November 5, 2022
"Race and Education"
The November panel featured Philadelphia educators who discussed the work of Black women from the past and present who have made a difference in the lives of children, especially for Black and Brown youth: Rochelle Nichols-Solomon, social justice activist and eduator; Dr. Asali Solomon, author and professor; Dr. Deidre R. Farmbry, career Philadelphia educator and administrator; Njemele Anderson, teacher at Strawberry Mansion High School in Philadelphia; and Jihan Thomas, arts educator and activist.
Saturday, February 11, 2023
"Challenging the System to Work"
The February panel focused on "Colored Conventions," political gatherings held from the antebellum period through 30 years beyond the Civil War. These political gatherings offered opportunities for free-born and formerly enslaved African Americans to organize and strategize for racial justice. The Colored Conventions movement generated a rich and varied documentary record—from the minutes of the proceedings themselves and the coverage they received in newspapers, to the vigorous debates their participants engaged in and the legislative petitions they created to advocate for Black rights.
The panel featured historian and digital humanities expert Denise Burgher from the University of Delaware, and three School District of Philadelphia teachers: Keziah Ridgeway, Northeast High School; Nick Bernardini, Samuel Fels High School; and Janel Moore-Almond, George Washington Carver High School of Engineering and Science. All of the speakers contribute to the Teaching the Colored Conventions Project. This program was designed in collaboration with the social studies team in the School District of Philadelphia’s Office of Curriculum and Instruction.
Participants learned about resources and strategies for teaching about the Colored Conventions in K-12 classrooms. After the panel, participants explored exhibits and galleries at the African American Museum in Philadelphia.
Thursday, March 30, 2023
"Building a More Perfect Union"
The March roundtable event celebrated the work of teachers and students as participants considered what it means to continue “Building a More Perfect Union.” A number of the teachers are Philadelphia Writing Project teacher consultants and many participated in PhilWP’s 2022 Advanced Summer Institute. Roundtables featured the following speakers and topics:
Njemele Anderson, Strawberry Mansion High School: publicly funded HBCU research project and college fair
Sam Reed, U School: curriculum unit exploring the often hidden contributions Black women played in the struggle for universal suffrage
April Lancit, Martin Luther King High School: mental health, wellness, and self-care in classrooms through experiential learning, storytelling, and conversational community building
Dr. Kathleen Murphy, Community College of Philadelphia: multimodal student research presentations on early Philadelphians and activists inspired by They Carried Us
Laura Seeley, Roxborough High School: student research projects focused on the early 1900s and African American leaders
Keziah Ridgeway, Northeast High School: student-created work on the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society and efforts to change a historical Philadelphia landmark plaque
Eileen Lawson, G. W. Childs Elementary School: “Scrapbook Biography” project inspired by African American women in They Carried Us
Jen Freed, Springfield High School; Javaha Ross, Penn Alexander School; & Trey Smith, Chester Arthur School: Supporting civically engaged argument writing with primary sources
Following the roundtables, participants explored the groundbreaking joint exhibition developed by the African American Museum in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, "Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America." The exhibition invites audiences to reflect on and respond to the provocative and timely question: “Is the sun rising or setting on the experiment of American democracy?”