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History through Art & Film: Willie Mays

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Please welcome History teacher Rob Curry to Ed Space. He recently participated in our workshop where we spent a day at MoAD learning about historical representation through art and film, and later worked at KQED to create short films about missing voices or stories in history. Rob created a film about Willie Mays and the baseball legend’s experience with prejudice in San Francisco.

Rob Curry: “The workshop was extremely helpful in developing an appreciation for the content of the exhibits at the Museum of the African Diaspora, as well as a way of learning to help my students create digital media projects as vehicles to more fully internalize their learning, and use higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

At MoAD, we learned that there were three African Diasporas. The first was the spread of all humans from the common origin in east Africa. The second African Diaspora was the transatlantic slave trade. The third and on-going African Diaspora is the continued exodus of Africans throughout the world.

The museum has on display a myriad of primary documents. I was very impressed by signed early editions of Phyllis Wheatley’s book of poetry and of Frederick Douglass’ Narratives of a Slave. These original copies of early literary masterpieces are featured as photos in my 8th grade students’ text books. To actually be able to see them, up close and in person, literally sent a chill up and down my spine.

Viewing KQED Spark videos, particularly about the Kerry James Marshall murals at SFMOMA, reinforced the impact of art in conveying ideas and motions. On the 2 days of the workshop at KQED, we were guided in combining the many components (images, music, text, narration) which go into the iMovie project. Having done this previously, I still needed practice. I now feel much more confident in creating these projects with my students.”


In Rob’s classroom, students will collect 10-15 images related to a person from African American or Women’s History who rose above challenges and obstacles. Once images are initially arranged in iMovie or Windows Movie Maker, the students who take on script writer and the image gathering roles will work together to decide the final order of images and text or title screens.  They will then work with the students working as audio editors to choose music and set up plans for the narration.

Thanks to Rob Curry for his participation in our workshop. We look forward to seeing his students’ media projects in the future.

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