FRONTLINE's "Secret Daughter" is a documentary about one woman's struggle to understand the role race and racism played in her relationship with her mother. The program's web site significantly expands upon June Cross's intensely personal tale, placing it in historical, sociological, and even psychological and religious contexts.
The site offers extensive information about the cultural and racial milieu of the 1950s, genealogies of some of the world's most famous families with mixed-race histories, and even the role of African origins and dark skin color in Christianity's development.
These online resources can enrich class discussions and lectures in both higher and secondary education. Here are some suggestions:
The following links would be very useful in psychology classes, particularly ones that grapple with the effects, and responses to, race and racism. These links also are useful if discussing notions of identity with students.
To find direct testimonials about what it is like to be a parent of a multi-racial child, or to be a multi-racial person, click here.
This link contains direct testimonials of significant issues involved in raising multi-racial children.
This link points to a list of essays about racial self-identity, racial classification, and black and white relations.
Old American families live and reflect American history. Students can see the twists and turns of American history through the history of the interracial family of June Cross. Cross is the FRONTLINE television producer whose own family story became the subject of the "Secret Daughter" documentary.
Want surprising histories of more famous American families and individuals to complement more conventional accounts? Look no further: ancestors to the Vanderbilts, the Whitneys, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Humphrey Bogart-a descendent of the Van Salee family-were part African-American. And students also will be surprised to learn that "Melrose Place's" Heather Locklear has a more interesting genealogy than one might expect.
If your American history course has a unit on the African-American experience, you might want to offer students a glimpse into the complicated early history of blacks in America and contemporary attempts to unravel those experiences.
If you are teaching a course on the Renaissance, the following
links provide fascinating material on the Medici family, its
mixed race heritage, and the astonishing metaphors and clues about this family that are hidden
in a frieze
hanging in a Medici villa in Rome.
Need tales to make British History more exciting? Here's one that will
make George III (1738-1820) far more interesting!
Russian history is astonishingly rich and complex. Here is some information that will
drive that point home to your students: some of history's most famous Russians also may be among Ethiopia's most prominent descendants.
Religion and Religious History:
This link provides a rich amount of material on how Africans have had a profound influence on Christian history, theology and iconography.
If you are teaching the poetry of Alexander Pushkin, the following link will provide remarkable background on his life and literary works.
Music History or Appreciation:
If teaching the history of jazz, vaudeville, or comedy, the following link offers a series of interviews (in audio and as well as transcript form) with important entertainers, including Dizzy Gillespie and Jerry Lewis. They explore the problems black musicians and entertainers experienced in the 40's, 50's, and 60's. Additionally, this page provides a link to a fascinating interview detailing the mob's grip on Harlem during its heyday of famous nightclubs and the segregation of white and black show business during that era.
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