By Jamaica Thompson
As we begin Black History Month, we are reminded that Black history is an integral part of our country’s past and understanding this connection is crucial to understanding the cultural, political, and social structures on which this country is built. This month, join us as we take a journey through history to experience the rich depth and culture of our country through the eyes of African American authors and poets from three distinct periods. Let’s dive into the world of African American literature! We’ll start off by exploring literature from early America, which is largely characterized by slave narratives and political writings.
For many authors during this period, shedding light on the Black experience in America, the experience of slavery and oppression, was a goal. From Olaudah Equiano’s The Interesting Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African, published in 1789, to Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, published in 1861, African American literature brought light to the atrocities experienced by those in slavery and provided evidence that fueled the anti-slavery movement.
While this part of our history may be difficult to discuss with our children, it remains a key part of the story of our country and an important aspect of a United States History homeschool curriculum. Approaching these challenging topics through the eyes of the authors who experienced and wrote about them can provide a unique way to teach our children about this important time in history. It also provides valuable opportunities for our children to consider the perspectives of those who lived during this time.
Along with the literature from early America, other distinct periods of African American literature include the Harlem Renaissance and the contemporary era. We’ll delve into the literature of these periods in the coming weeks!
Our African American Literature unit is now available and, in honor of Black History Month, this unit will be offered for FREE through the month of February. No fee, no credit card number, and no email address are required. Just click the link and start learning! This unit is designed to be experienced by parents and children together. It provides an engaging and enlightening look at a broad spectrum of literature produced by African American writers from three eras of our history.