Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Visit THE HARLEM RENASSANCE @ your Library

Had this idea in the summer and we are going to try it out this February. During the month of February we will celebrate “THE HARLEM RENASSANCE” in honor of Black History Month.

Here’s the plan. (We will let you know in March if it was a success or not)
During the month of February we will have the following activities in the Library:

Afternoon At The Movies-This will be after school and we show A Cabin In The Sky. This movie is short, 98 minutes long. A Cabin In The Sky was a groundbreaking production for its time due to the decision to use an all African-American cast. In the 1940s, movie theaters in many cities, particularly in the south, refused to show films with predominately black performers. I know that 1943 is a little past the Harlem Renaissance time period, but the actors and actresses in this movie were part of the Harlem Scene. As normal we will have free popcorn and sell drinks.
*Blues and Jazz for Lunch – During our 4 lunches we hope to have one of our assistant principals and friends play the music of the 20s. If this falls through I have CDs we will play during lunch one day (it scares me when I have to depend on other people).
* Sweet Potato Pone Tasting – If you research foods of the Harlem Renaissance, you will find that it focused on Southern Soul Food. This is because of the great northern migration of Black Americans to the cities. We wanted to do a tasting, but we live in the South so most Southern Soul Foods are foods our students eat on a regular basis. One that I found that we don’t seem to eat in North Carolina (but they did in New Orleans) was Sweet Potato Pone. This is something between a Sweet Potato cake and a sweet potato pudding. We are going to be the baker of this recipe, which Lucy found on the Internt
*A Rent Party – Our visions of a Rent Party. This will be during lunches so we can not sell food (state law). Instead, we will sell turns on the Video Game called “Donkey Konga” (you also could use Guitar Hero or Rock Band) If I am now talking a foreign language to you, ask the students-- they would love to fill you in on all the new games. I have Donkey Konga set up as a 4 player game and students will pay 10 cent per player per game. We will talk about what a real Rent Party was like in the 20’s and 30’s .
*Lindy Hop and Charleston-During lunches one day, I have asked the Dance Club to do a demonstration of the Charleston and the Theatre Class to do a demonstration of the Lindy Hop. I have,You Tube Video to show on the Smart board if these demonstrations fizzle out.

There you have it, one busy month-- to be so short.


  1. Your blog has really inspired me! I'm attempting to plan weekly activities during our lunch period, and I've had two so far which seem to have been successful. On Monday, we are having a musician during lunch who will be playing the blues and giving a little lesson on the history. I'm excited!

  2. We thought it only fair that we look back over our seemingly terrific Black History Month activities which focused on the Harlem Renaissance. Some activities were terrific--others, not so much. We will comment on each activity in a separate post, to make the reading a little shorter and easier. Lucy and Ethel are notorious for long winded posts!

    Activity #1--Afternoon At The Movies-After school one day in February we attempted to show A Cabin In The Sky. Let's just say this was disastrous activity number one. First, we think now that we just didn't advertise well enough--we had a large sign outside our doors, and had it announced during school announcements each day for a week. We only had 4 students stay after school to watch the movie. We put the DVD in the player, and KAZAAM!, and only show the movie with a running commentary by a professor. We fiddled and played with the DVD for about 10 minutes, until we gave up. We popped in themovie, The Art of Mexico--we just were at a loss. I can say the popcorn and soda was a success, and the four girls who stayed had a great time!

  3. Activity #2 Blues and Jazz for Lunch – You know the saying, the best laid plans… I had my two musicians, things were looking good. Then the Assistant Principal tells me he has a 504 meeting and the first set will start a little late.
    (The sets were the last 10 minutes of each of the 4 lunches. There is not much room for a little late) He also tells me he has a meeting off campus, and will not be able to play during 4th lunch. During the short 3 sets they did play the Assistant Principal had phones call that he had to take. The sad thing is I let them pick the date; I was thinking, why wouldn’t you pick a date where you had fewer meetings. Oh well, the little bit of music they played was really great. We put a CD in for 4th lunch. And life goes on.

  4. Activity #3- Sweet Potato Pone Tasting and A Rent Party – We paired these two activities together. This one hit the mark. We did start off a little rough, when I set the Gamecube up with the projector, it would not read the game. I had set this up the day before and it worked fine. I called my son at work and the phone was busy. I jump in my car and drive across the street to where he works and yelled “Get off the phone; I can’t get the game to play.” He told me several things to try. None worked. I called him again and he told me one more thing to try and Thank you Jesus (for it truly was a Black History Miracle) it worked. We had lots of students playing Donkey Konga at 10 cent a play. We had student and staff buying “Sweet Potato Pone” at 50 cent a severing. We showed a very short You Tube video on the history and making of Sweet Potato Pone. We talked about what a Rent Party was and all in all a good activity.

  5. Activity #4 Lindy Hop and Charleston- I was most worried about this activity. The week before this activity, the Theatre Class or the Dance Club had not practiced or watched the videos I had pulled for them. So in my mind I was working on plan B. I would just show You Tube videos of the Lindy Hop and Charleston. Well the Theatre Class came thought with flying colors and the students had a blast dancing. Some even talked their Chemistry teacher into letting them stay for all four lunches. We saw neither hide nor hair of the Dance Club; there was no Charleston Demo.