UNION, NJ – A museum exhibition entitled “Black History is American History” detailing the 400-year history of African American contributions to American society was held recently at Burnet Middle School.
Social studies teachers Allison Sheahen, Joseph Costello, Thomas O’Reilly and Thomas Scarano had their students research, design, and present the exhibition.
The students interpreted a variety of primary and secondary sources and collaborated within small groups about various topics throughout American history. Topics ranged from early African communities abroad and in colonial America, resistance to slavery and Jim Crow segregation, to voting and citizenship rights. Contributions in culture, art, science, medicine, athletics, government and the military were covered.
The museum exhibit was also made possible by the contributions of Burnet's art classes, led by teachers Jennifer Ramirez and Nikki Fenton. Students in their art classes created paintings inspired by their research, detailing various themes of African-American history.
"It was a pleasure to watch students truly engage with this complicated history often very limited in contemporary Social Studies textbooks,” said Costello. “Students proved they could collaborate with their groups to tell a story of African history that connects all classes involved. I feel very thankful to be a part of a great collaborative team of Social Studies and Art teachers who helped curate this exhibit."
Eighth grader Oliva Mott said, "The museum was good to help us learn about what happened during the Jim Crow period and beyond. Now we can understand how African-Americans were treated so we can avoid making similar mistakes in the future."