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Bronxville Union Free School District

Eighth-Graders Curate Museum on Harlem Renaissance

Bronxville Middle School eighth-graders in David Katz’s social studies classes worked together over several weeks to curate a museum that celebrates the significance of the Harlem Renaissance.

As part of a project-based learning experience, they created displays and crafted original art, poetry and musical performances to detail the people and cultural changes that occurred during the groundbreaking time period. During their extensive research, with assistance from librarian Eileen Mann, the students learned about prominent figures, the history, lifestyle and fashion of the Harlem Renaissance, and discovered how it impacted African-American culture. The project also gave them an opportunity to collaborate with their peers and learn from the work of others.

“I hope the students took away a deeper understanding of the importance of culture and history,” Katz said. “As we head toward studying the civil rights movement, I hope they understood how the Harlem Renaissance and that awakening of the African-American culture inspired the civil rights movement.”

Eighth-grader Rayne Wiser – whose group created a documentary about the Harlem Renaissance lifestyle after touring historic landmarks in Harlem, such as the Cotton Club, Apollo Theater, Rucker Park and the National Jazz Museum – said the project allowed them to fully immerse themselves in the time period.

“It was a major period where we know there was still segregation going on, but it was where African-Americans really expanded and flourished,” Wiser said. “Our whole museum was about people who worked to push on progressive thoughts.”

Through his project, student John Moynihan said he gained a deeper understanding of the significance of the Harlem Renaissance. Having researched Langston Hughes’ life, legacy and impact on society, he wrote an original poem that was inspired by the work of the famed poet:  

Below is his original poem:

They do not let us eat with them,        
But we continue to celebrate.
A storm is starting,
It cannot be stopped.
Reform is coming.

They continue to discriminate,
But we continue to celebrate.
The storm is growing larger
People are beginning to understand
That we are the same as them.
 
The art is beautiful,
But few see it for its deeper meaning.
Too long we have suffered,
Soon we will suffer no more,
Soon we will eat with them.
                John Moynihan

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  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image
  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image
  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image
  • Bronxville Union Free School District - Image