Resilience and Advocacy: Exploring the Legacy of Slavery With International ESL/EFL Students

Conference: The Paris Conference on Education (PCE2022)
Title: Resilience and Advocacy: Exploring the Legacy of Slavery With International ESL/EFL Students
Stream: Teaching Experiences, Pedagogy, Practice & Praxis
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Judy L Miller, Columbia University, United States


This presentation offers classroom material designed to help teachers discuss the importance of resilience and advocacy in the history of the United States and how this tradition impacts today’s situation. It will deal with the life of American slaves, the interracial abolition movement, the Underground Railroad, and the agency of slaves in freeing themselves before and during the Civil War. It is especially important to include ESL materials to help international students navigate not only the language of this history but also the context of the discussion: resilience against all odds in the survival of the enslaved community and culture, advocacy in the more than 30-year fight to end slavery including civil disobedience, the “bright shining moment” (DuBois) of emancipation and the backlash of progress denied during the Jim Crow era of legal segregation. The presentation will begin with a brief look at material on slavery for elementary and more advanced ESL/EFL levels, testimony from the former enslaved people collected in WPA Project interviews in the 1930s, material accessible to intermediate students on escaping slaves and the political organization of free blacks and whites, the meaning of emancipation and citizenship, and the backlash against rights for blacks in the South. What is the meaning of progress? What is the takeaway from history? Only advocacy and fighting for change can save our society: from Frederick Douglass to George Floyd, history is not a mausoleum but a call to action.

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