Defining Your Project
The possibilities for a youth history project at your organization are endless. You may want to begin the project by doing a community assessment: What types of historic and cultural organizations exist? Are there museums, libraries, historic sites and societies, National Park Service sites, etc.? What types of resources does each offer? What local connections to this history do you know of already? Think about your young people and your program: What ages do you work with? Do you have a regular group of youth or do different young people drop in at different times? What types of projects have excited them in the past? Do you have to stay on site or can you go out into the community? You know best what will work in your organization.
The following pages offer ideas to help you launch a youth history project, and strategies for getting youth started on their research. Take advantage of the national series publicity for Africans in America to build awareness for your project. For instance, the local press may be interested in promoting your project in conjunction with articles about the series. If your public television station is planning to rebroadcast the series in February, you might consider using the October premiere to kick off your project, with a culminating event in February to coincide with the rebroadcast.
Start your project in the present by sharing personal stories and then looking for ties to history. Have young people find out more about their families' past: where did they come from, how and why did they come to this area, what cultural traditions do they practice? How do these stories reflect local and national history?
Ideas for Projects
Develop a video for broadcast on your local community access cable station, or produce a series of community history spots for your local radio station.
Write a play or puppet show about local historical figures, and present it at a church, local school, youth-serving organization, or community group.
Work with staff at a local historic site to participate in a dramatization or reenactment of local historic events.
Host a poetry slam using poetry inspired by historical events or people, written in an afterschool program or in the classroom.
Collaborate with your local librarian to create a resource list of books, audiotapes, videotapes, CD-ROMs, and other resources about history available at the library. Share the list with other young people and distribute to local history teachers. Librarians can create a display of resources available both at the library and at other community sites to further increase awareness of local history within the community.
Find out more about the free black community that existed in your area by working with black church congregations to trace their history.
Paint a community mural highlighting local history and leaders.
Work with a local storyteller to translate youth research into stories. Youth can then present their stories to younger children at local schools or at library story hours.
Host viewing and discussion programs to discuss the issues raised by the Africans in America series. Scholars from historical societies, state humanities councils, museums, and colleges and universities can facilitate the discussion or add local details.
Create a historical scavenger hunt in the community.
Work with a local historical society to create a history walking trail through your community. Youth can help develop pamphlets and maps for a self-guided tour.
Involve youth in a campaign to petition City Hall or the local historic commission to preserve and protect historic sites or buildings.
Hold a student art contest featuring youth interpretations of local history. Display winners at your library, a local bank, or the community center.
Work with your newspaper to write and place a series of articles about local historical events and figures, and the legacy of race in the lives of young
Design a Web site that displays your research about local historical figures or sites.
Look for opportunities for intergenerational projects, such as collecting oral histories, encouraging intergenerational teams to participate
in your historical scavenger hunt, or sponsoring a teen/senior storytelling or readathon day at your local library with a focus on local history.
Assemble a museum exhibit using local primary sources and youth art.
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