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The African, Caribbean and African American Cultural Connection

Author: Keysiah M. Middleton


Dr. Anna Howard Shaw Middle School

Year: 2008

Seminar: From West Africa to West Philadelphia

Grade Level: 5-8

Keywords: aesthetic values, African, African American, Black Atlantic, connect to Africa, cultural expression, dance, Food, interlinked groups, language, Music, pride, shared African background, shared awareness

School Subject(s): American History, Geography, Global History, History, Political Science, Social Studies, Sociology

This curriculum unit outcome will provide students with a comprehensive overview of their shared African background, while introducing them to a system of aesthetic values that will allow them to express their connection to Africa via language, food, dance, and music as well as a more comprehensive knowledge of their African background.

Deep similarities between African-American and African forms of cultural expression provide a foundation for reconnecting our students within the framework of the Black Atlantic, a region that has exerted an invaluable and undeniable influence throughout the nation and around the globe. Mainstream American society does not provide minority students with the resources to recognize who they are and build upon it. The purpose of “The African, Caribbean, and African American Cultural Connection” curriculum unit is to make students aware of the immediate similarities that exist among these three interlinked groups of people, and to foster shared awareness of and pride in the great contributions that African cultural ideas.

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Full Unit Text

Nearly twenty years ago, the distinguished Africanist and political scientist Ali Mazrui observed that African Americans have lost the “quality of being African.” In his nine part commentary video series, “The Africans,” Dr. Mazrui explains that the various terms by which African Americans have been labeled to include “colored,” “black,” “Negro,” and “nigger” have explicitly detached the African American from the continent, people, culture, languages, and heritage of Africa.1 My contention is that, although a deliberated denial of Africanness makes it hard to identify, Africanness itself has not disappeared. What has disappeared is the consciousness of being African, and the capacity for creating meaning and identity around persisting ways of being African and doing things in African ways.

This raises the question: how can a teacher in a Southwest or West Philadelphia public school help students to regain consciousness of the quality of being African?

To explore this question, I asked another: “What does Africa mean to my African American students?” In a school-wide survey at a Philadelphia inner-city middle school I posed this question to one hundred seventh and eighth grade boys and girls. Ninety-two and a half percent of the students responded negatively when asked the question, “What does Africa mean to you?” Aside from a long silence or no response at all, the responses ranged from very negative stereotypes to knowledgeable articulations. Negative responses included, “naked people,” “hungry children with no clothes on,” “people living in the jungle,” and “I don’t know, I’m not African.” Less than eight percent of the responses reflected historical awareness of Africa’s relevance to us, such as, “the land of my ancestors,” “slaves were taken from there,” “a continent with a lot of resources,” “the place where human civilization began” and “where do you think we’re from?” Unfortunately, the negative responses tend to be the more typical responses of those with little or no knowledge of Africa. That students in my middle school conform to the reality that Mazrui documented is disturbing. As one might expect, given the negative portrayals of Africa in the media, the most negative responses came from students with little or no knowledge of Africa.

This detachment from Africa that African Americans so willingly embrace blinds us to the various similarities and cultural connections that African, Caribbean, and African American people all share. It deafens us to the shared aesthetic values and cultural logic that resonates in styles of speech, physical mannerisms, cuisine, music, dance, religious practices and a host of other forms of expression. This curriculum unit addresses this issue. The purpose of “The African, Caribbean, and African American Cultural Connection” curriculum unit is to identify and teach students of the Africanisms – the “influence of those elements of culture found in the New World that are traceable to an African origin”2 and how they have contributed to American culture.

I believe that the repression of African ancestral roots also contributes to the low self-esteem so prominent among my African American students. While other hyphenated Americans celebrate Italian, Jamaican, Irish, Haitian, Jewish, German, and Asian aspects of their American identities, the African American’s cultural link to Africa seems to carry a badge of shame. We hear it argued that Africa is not the home of the African American because the African American was born in America not Africa. Similarly, we hear Africans repudiating an association with African Americans, whom they find hard to take seriously.

Behind the antagonism we find the specter of slavery, and the shame and stigma attached to the institution that profoundly shaped the Black Atlantic into a modern cultural region. (Gilroy). Africans are ashamed of the African American because they are the descendants of slaves, while African Americans are ashamed of the Africans whose ancestors may have played some role in the selling of their ancestors into slavery, and who moreover appear to be primitive in the light of an American ideal of “ progress.” Yet deep similarities between African-American and African forms of cultural expression provide a foundation for reconnecting our students within the framework of the Black Atlantic, a region that has exerted an invaluable and undeniable influence throughout the nation and around the globe. Mainstream American society does not provide minority students with the resources to recognize who they are and build upon it. The purpose of “The African, Caribbean, and African American Cultural Connection” curriculum unit is to make students aware of the immediate similarities that exist among these three interlinked groups of people, and to foster shared awareness of and pride in the great contributions that African cultural ideas are making to American society at all levels. This curriculum unit outcome will provide students with a comprehensive overview of their shared African background, while introducing them to a system of aesthetic values that will allow them to express their connection to Africa via language, food, dance, and music as well as a more comprehensive knowledge of their African background.


Well into the first half of the twentieth century debates over African American culture were dominated by the assumption that slavery had expunged all traces of Africanness, and that slaves and their freed descendants had assimilated to Euro-American culture. As Africanisms historian, Joseph E. Holloway put it, scholars like “Frazier believed that black Americans lost their African heritage during slavery …… and that African American culture evolved independently of any African influence.”3 In The Myth of the Negro Past, the anthropologist Melville Herskovits blasted this assumption with demonstrations of striking and persistent parallels among West African, West Indian, and African American forms of cultural expression. Since then, the scholarship on the cultural formations that unify the Black Atlantic has grown, so that we now realize, with historian, Molefi Kete Asante, that “no displaced people have ever completely lost the forms of their previous culture. The specific artifacts may differ from those employed in a prior time, but the essential elements giving rise to those artifacts are often retained and produce substantive forms in the new context.”4

However, public schools have been too slow to make use of this scholarship. The prominence of African cultural ideas in American life has been completely omitted from elementary, middle and high school social studies/history textbooks. Many of our students are not taught the African influences that helped to build and sustain American culture. Contrary to popular belief, the African contributions that have been omitted from our students’ textbooks have been major to the development of the United States and the world we know today. This unit seeks to develop awareness among students and educators alike about the African traditions that have survived in the African American culture of the Americas, primarily North America. This unit on Africanisms will take a brief look at the research and writings on African cultural retentions by scholars such as Asante, Harris, Maultsby, Holloway, Levine, Piersen, Walker, Fisher- Fishkin, Hershovits and Wood to name a few. This unit will examine their findings on the life of African cultural ideas in America, particularly African American language, music, dance, cuisine and medicine.

Many of the African medicinal, culinary, artistic (music and dance), linguistic, and religious cultural retentions were vital to the cultural and biological survival of slaves under the plantation system, chiefly in the southern region of the United States.

According to John Thornton, “in the eighteenth century African culture was not surviving: It was arriving. Whatever the brutalities of the middle passage or slave life, it was not going to cause the African-born to forget their mother language or change their ideas about beauty in design or music; nor would it cause them to abandon the ideological underpinnings of religion or ethics-not on arrival in America, not ever in their lives.”5

We must be mindful that African cultural “arrival” did not begin on the slave plantation, but during the middle passages on the slave ships right from the outset of the transatlantic slave trade. Through an exchange of cultural ideas among diverse ethnic groups, a distinctive African American culture began developing on the slave ship and continued to develop on the southern plantations as the creative response of slaves to the crisis of slavery. “The survival of slaves in the New World depended on their ability to retain the ideals fundamental to African cultures.”6 Within the world of the slave plantation was a distinctive new world, that, as Eugene Genovese demonstrates, the slaves made themselves. A myriad of African ethnic groups connected as a result of being concentrated in one area. Cultural survival became key to their existence. Portia Maultsby makes it clear that “slaves adapted to life in the Americas by retaining a perspective on the past. They survived an oppressive existence by creating new expressive forms out of African traditions, and they brought relevance to European American customs by reshaping them to conform to African aesthetic ideas.”7

Jeffrey Neff observes that Americans are oblivious to Africa’s extraordinary cultural diversity. “Most Americans imagine Africa as a single place, inhabited by a single race of people, but that conception is itself an outgrowth of the slave trade, an artifact of the centuries-long encounter between Africa and the West.”8 The statistics cited by James T. Campbell contradict the American stereotype: “Three countries the size of the United States could fit into the landmass area of Africa. Africa’s population is three times larger than that of the United States, but it displays a greater degree of cultural complexity. Of all the world’s known languages, over one-third are spoken in Africa.”9 Gwendolyn Midlo Hall references 217 different African ethnicities of the slave population in the state of Louisiana alone as documented from the records of the Louisiana Slave Database.10 How do the many ethnic origins represented in slave populations relate to the diversity of the African American cultures found throughout the Americas today? Although many of these ethnic groups shared cultural ideas and practices, scholars have demonstrated that ethnic groups from different regions of Africa made unique cultural contributions. (Vlach, Thompson, Holloway, etc.) “The legacy of African American culture is important to the understanding of America.”11

The point here is that the myth of the primitive enabled the taking of the resources in the name of improvement – a pattern replicated in many countries where capitalists sought to separate the resources from the people who lived there. Witness in this regard the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 where the leaders of European states came together and agreed on ground rules for dividing up Africa. Not a single African individual, dignitary, or leader was invited to a meeting that precipitated a mad scramble for Africa’s wealth. 12 Present-day patterns of absentee corporate ownership of Africa’s natural resources are the direct legacy of this kind of discourse. The continent is rich in an overwhelming number of mineral and natural resources. Gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt, bauxite, chromite, crude oil, manganese, iron ore, phosphate and tin to name a few of the mineral resources are to be found in countries throughout Africa. This was done under the false pretense of leading Africans into the modern world; Africans whose many civilizations and cultural ideas were just as sophisticated as the capitalist centers of Europe. The boundaries drawn by the European powers around their African interests blatantly disregarded cultural and historical realities. “Unfortunately, the political boundaries they drew on their largely inaccurate maps cut apart ethnic groups, kingdoms, and historically linked regions in ways that continue to cause conflicts in Africa today.” 13 These conflicts aggravated divisiveness not only among African ethnic groups, but also among the various groups of African American, Caribbean, and African peoples in America, limiting opportunities for these culturally linked groups to share and exchange aspects of their related culture. The very diversity of cultural ideas flowing from West Africa to West Philadelphia could foster an exchange that could begin healing the divisions.

The idea for this unit came to fruition as a result of working very closely in a public urban school setting where I had the opportunity not only to teach, but to work with, talk with, exchange ideas and gain a better insight of today’s youth from some of Philadelphia’s most fascinating and interesting inner city youth. From these exchanges, I have learned that a great number of our children have very little knowledge about the continent of Africa. This gap in their knowledge must be remedied in order to address the cultural connection that directly links Africans, African Americans, Caribbean Islanders, as well as other brown people around the world. I have also observed a sense of shame. As a result of the socialization process in America, African Americans have been taught to be ashamed of Africa and this contributes to the rampant self-hatred that exists in many brown communities. So, students are ashamed that they are descendants of Africans. I learned that some of our children are not aware even of their family lineage by one generation. The world-renowned musical genius, Bob Marley in his track, “Rat Race” from his 1976 “Rastaman Vibrations” album admonishes us to, “don’t forget your history, know your destiny. In the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty.”14 This proverb reminds us that history is extremely important to our personal growth as human beings. Our history is everywhere around us. To not know one’s history whether family or world history, is synonymous to walking through life in darkness. Knowing your past and where you come from is very intricate to one’s psychological, social and economic development; it is fundamental to finding one’s purpose.

Our children need to understand the importance of knowing one’s ancestral past, the origin of where they as a people have come from to help prepare them for their place in this universe. In addition to teaching the topic of slavery and African American history in general, we can discuss the role enslaved Africans played in shaping the New World through the African tradition. Joseph Holloway reminds us that “the transatlantic slave trade established a permanent link between Africa and North America as Africans sold into slavery transplanted their cultures to the New World.”15 With this new knowledge, students can begin to look at Africa and Africans from a different perspective, make the common cultural connections shared by all descendants of African peoples and determine their own connection to the language, food, music, dance and religion that has its foundation in African roots. As Lawrence Levine explains, “from the first African captives through the years of slavery, and into the present century black Americans kept alive important strands of African consciousness and verbal art in their humor, songs, dance, speech, tales, games, folk beliefs, and aphorisms. They were able to do this because these areas of culture are often the most persistent, because whites tended not to interfere with many of these culture patterns which quickly became associated in the white mind with Negro inferiority or at least peculiar Negro racial traits, and because in a number of areas there were important cultural parallels and thus wide room for syncretism between Africans and Europeans.”16

The African, Caribbean and African American Cultural Connection curriculum unit is aimed at making our students more aware of the African cultural ideas that surround us primarily through reading materials and the use of primary source documents. Lessons based on social studies content reading material will focus on the literary skills of determining main idea, locating supporting details, making an inference/drawing a conclusion and building vocabulary strategies. Additional literary skills such as analyzing character, setting, and determining fact and opinion will be embedded within each of the lessons. These primary literary skills will require students to utilize critical thinking skills. The practice of examining primary source documents will also help students to build on their critical thinking skills. Students will have the opportunity to evaluate, describe, and define the details of the letters of slavers, advertisements for runaways placed by slave owners, photographs and paintings in addition to newspaper articles for the sale of skilled Africans from a particular region of Africa.

The intention of this unit is to serve as a supplemental instructional tool for learning support seventh and eighth grade students in an inclusion setting or self-contained educational environment. To incorporate the teaching across the curriculum strategy, the unit could be taught in a reading class also. In a reading class there should be a greater emphasis on the literary skills to meet the reading curriculum demands. Differentiated instruction must be incorporated to accommodate the educational needs of each student as required by their style of learning and/or Individualized Education Program (IEP). The unit will need to be modified to address daily/weekly reading probes, one-on-one instruction, pull out sessions, skill re-teaching, etc. as required by the IEP. Although, intended for students performing on an academically lower level, the unit can be adjusted for higher performing students also.

African cultural legacies in America find expression in medicine, language/speech, food ways, styles of cooking, dance, music, religious practices and humor to name a few. These legacies made their way to the New World with Africans who were forcefully transported during the middle passages of the transatlantic slave trade. Although, not overtly recognized as such, many of the African cultural legacies continue to exist in African American communities throughout the New World today. Shelley Fishkin-Fisher frames our task: “We must learn to appreciate the distinctive blend of cultural traditions that shaped us, while simultaneously working to dismantle the paradigms that prevented, and continue to prevent, so many African Americans from receiving credit and respect for all they did, and do, to create that common culture known as “American” throughout the world.”17

Historical Background

African Medicinal Legacies

In his book Black Legacy: America’s Hidden Heritage, William D. Piersen said, “Whatever American culture is, it is a blending, a blending in which Afro is an essential part.”18 Piersen’s statement parallels Shelley Fisher-Fishkin’s argument that “white

Anglo-Saxon Protestant civilization of the United States was itself shaped from the start by people and traditions that were not white, or Anglo-Saxon, or Protestant.”19 In this melting pot we call America; almost every ethnic group known to this nation has played a key role in its making. It is especially important for today’s urban youth that educators recognize African legacies and celebrate their contributions to contemporary life in America and around the world.

Scholars have documented traditional medical and dental practices commonly used among many African ethnic groups, which have influenced modern medical and dental practice. Levine notes that, “some slaves spoke of having learned their medical lore directly from their African forebears.”20 Pierson adds: “African medical knowledge is one example of the many skills that were carried across the ocean to make a major impact on American lives.”21 It is common for students to be taught that enslaved Africans were strictly field hands used for picking cotton and cultivating rice. However, many worked as medical practitioners both on slave vessels and plantations doctoring sick slaves. Added to a host of other daily tasks, Africans had the responsibility of caring for and doctoring the sick slaves. The enslaved African practitioner usually cured fellow enslaved Africans and whites using medicinal remedies they had utilized back home in Africa. Their healing practices were grounded in African ideas about the health as well as the overall effect of physical, social, and spiritual well-being. “Africa contributed more than specific cures;” writes Levine, “it contributed a general outlook.”22 Africans brought with them their wisdom of herbal usage and other medicinal practices, which entered into the marketplace of cultural ideas about health, as Pierson attests: “The transference of African medical knowledge permitted Black Americans not only to tend their own medical needs, but to contribute to the improvement of American health as a whole.”23 Many of the medical techniques the enslaved Africans brought with them to the New World were in fact new to the newly settled Europeans. Again, following Pierson: “Africans had a broader, more psychological sophisticated conception of disease causation and control than did early emigrants from Europe.”24 Fisher-Fishkin notes in “Reclaiming the Black Presence in Mainstream Culture” that enslaved practitioners were known to have used lemon juice to cure scurvy at least thirteen years before European practitioners actually came to understand the disease, at which point they advocated a similar cure.25

Piersen’s Black Legacy devotes Chapter 5: “Duh Root Doctuh Wuz All We Needed” to a discussion of the continuance of African medicinal traditions in the ante-bellum south. To summarize his findings, Piersen writes that prior to the Atlantic slave trade and during the period of slavery, African medicine was holistic. The part of the body that was ill was examined with reference to the person’s physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. This partly explains why “curing the illness, in accord with African ideas, had required both physiological and sociological/religious attention.”26 He goes on to discuss how Africans were skilled in bloodletting (the process of drawing blood) and cupping (a procedure used to bring fresh blood to the surface of the skin), had greater experience in caring for snakebites and yaws (a chronic infectious disease that causes lesions on the face, hands, feet and genital area). Variolation was another medical technique used by Africans, particularly those on the Gold Coast. People in the Gambia region practiced variolation to inoculate their children with the infectious matter to provide resistance later in life. “Africans and African Americans practiced geophagy as a remedy for nutritional deficiencies such as lack of iron.”27 Geophagy is the practice of eating earthy substances such as clay or chalk to obtain the minerals they provide. Enslaved Africans would typically take earthen mineral patties to the field to eat while they worked. “Of the three population groups in the region-Africans, Europeans, and Indians-the Africans had the best medical background to have discovered the new curative powers of the bark. The largest contribution of African medical knowledge in the New World came in the daily medical care given to black slaves by African and African American practitioners.”28 “Mingling the skills and attitudes they brought with them from Africa with those of the Europeans and Indians, and learning from their accumulated experiences in the New World, slaves built up a vast store of remedies and treatments which may not have always cured diseases or saved lives but which doubtless gave them a necessary and salutary sense of competence, control, and active participation in at least one area of their lives.”29

African Culinary Legacies

Many of the foods eaten in both the African American and Caribbean communities are dishes containing African foods and continue to be prepared in the African tradition. “Africans in several regions of the continent played significant roles in developing agriculture, domesticating plants, and dispersing food plants and culinary styles to other parts of the world.”30 Holloway explains that crops brought directly from Africa during the transatlantic slave trade include rice, okra, tania, blackeyed peas, and kidney and lima beans; Africans ate them on board the slave ships. Other crops brought from Africa included peanuts (originating from South America), millet sorghum, guinea melon, watermelon, yams (Dioscorea cayanensis) and sesame (benne).”31 These food items are currently very common to African American and Caribbean cuisine.

One of the first food crops mentioned by Holloway is rice. Rice became an important staple in the United States, particularly in the American southern states. “The first successful cultivation of rice in the United States was accomplished in the South Carolina Sea Islands by an African woman who later taught her planter how to cultivate rice.”32 This important information is omitted from many social studies/history textbooks across the country. In leiu of historical facts, students are taught legends of important events regarding the history of African continuities in America. For example, Claudia Cangilla McAdam’s article entitled “Top Crop” teaches students that “legend has it that in 1649 a ship sailing to England from Madagascar, an island off the coast of Africa, got blown off course. The damaged ship found refuge in the American port city of Charleston, South Carolina. It is said that the captain gave the Americans a sack of seed rice as a thank you gift for helping his ship.”33 While this sounds possible, it was highly unlikely. The transatlantic slave trade linked Africa, the Americas and Europe. The legend states that the ship was blown off course. It does not seem probable that the captain was sailing east and blown to the west and just so happened to land in Charleston, South Carolina. The fact of the matter is that “the first rice seeds were imported directly from the island of Madagascar in 1685, with Africans supplying the labor and technical expertise. African experts in rice cultivation were brought directly from the island of Goree to teach

Europeans how to cultivate this cash crop.”34 Particular African ethnic groups were targeted for enslavement on the basis of their agricultural knowledge and expertise with certain field crops. As a result, American slavers sought Africans from specific regions. “Rice culture in the United States, which originally centered in the coastal Low Country of South Carolina and Georgia, was based on the knowledge and skills of people from Sierra Leone on West Africa’s “Grain Coast” or “Rice Coast” who were involuntarily “recruited” because of their well-known expertise in rice production.”35 Historian Peter H. Wood observes, in his book, Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion, that “rice was a crop about which Englishmen, even those who had lived in the Caribbean, knew nothing about.”36

Another African culinary contribution worthy of attention is okra. “Okra, which is indigenous to the continent ………was used both fresh and dried, appeared in soups and stews, and was used to thicken sauces.”37 Okra is particularly prevalent in American southern cuisine. As a southerner born and partially raised in Savannah, Georgia, okra is a dish that my family eats regularly. Okra soup with oxtails or fried okra and shrimp both served over rice were regular dishes found on our family’s dining table. “Okra arrived in the New World during the transatlantic slave trade in the 1600s. Okra or gumbo as it is called in Africa ……was commonly used by American whites before the American Revolution.”38 “The word “gumbo” derives from the African term for okra, “gombo,” and first appeared in print in 1805.” 39 Gumbo, a dish where the main ingredient is okra, is a very popular food item in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Sweet potatoes are another food crop that has become a very important food staple in African American cuisine. “True (white) yams did not come to the northern part of the hemisphere. They were replaced in the diet by sweet potatoes, which in many parts of the American South are still called by the name of the tuber they replaced.”40 Robert L. Hall in his essay, “Food Crops, Medicinal Plants, and the Transatlantic Slave Trade,” notes that Merrick Posnansky, has described the yam, a non-cereal energy crop, to be “the most important indigenous food crop in West Africa.”41 Yams are often confused with sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes, a common staple in African American culinary dishes, are often used to prepare a very familiar African American dish called “candied yams” or “candied sweets.” Jessica B. Harris in her essay, “Same Boat, Different Stops: An African Atlantic Culinary Journey” teaches us that “botanically, sweet potatoes and yams are two different species. The former is of New World origin, and the latter comes from various areas of tropical Africa and Asia. They neither look nor taste alike. The confusion comes as they may be prepared in similar ways.”42 Yams were just one of the many foods given to the enslaved Africans by slavers to eat on the slave ships. Hall writes “yams were frequently put on slave ships as provisions for slaves during the Middle Passage particularly when the involuntary African passengers were known to have come from yam-eating societies.”43 Experience had taught them to feed the Africans foods that they had been accustomed to so as to maintain their good health. The slavers were not only seeking to increase their economic base by transporting some of Africa’s indigenous crops as well as the enslaved Africans, but also ensuring that the Africans that they were to use for their business transactions made it to the shores of the Americas alive.

“Rice and peas” or “beans and rice” as the dish is called depending on where you live is a commonly eaten dish among African Americans in the United States, South America and the Caribbean. Although a regularly eaten dish among my family, it is especially popular during the New Year celebration. It is our family’s tradition to prepare and serve a dish called “hoppin johns,” which is our version of blackeyed peas and rice, on the eve of the upcoming year. It is said that eating “hoppin johns” along with doing a few other things will bring you good luck in the New Year. As a result, a typical meal on New Year’s Day will consist of hoppin johns, collard greens and cornbread. This culinary tradition has been in our family for as long as I can remember. Ironically, I have never heard talk from any family member where such a tradition originated. However, no one was aware that black-eyed peas were indigenous to West Africa. So, it could be quite possible that such a tradition arrived during the middle passages by way of the transatlantic slave trade or was the result of a culinary creation that came about during the Africans’ transition into African Americans. “Black-eyed peas first came to the New World as food for slaves during the transatlantic slave trade, arriving in Jamaica around 1675, spreading throughout the West Indies, and finally reaching Florida by 1700, North Carolina in 1738 and Virginia by 1775.”44 Black-eyed peas arrived rather early on in the creation of the Americas and spread very quickly throughout the Caribbean and the United States. Consequently, “black-eyed peas became one of the most popular food crops in the southern part of the United States”45 and are extremely popular in the Caribbean. Black-eyed peas are sometimes cooked and served over white rice, cooked with rice or just eaten alone. In any case, black-eyed peas are a frequently consumed compliment to many dishes prepared by my family.

Also indigenous to West Africa is the watermelon. Watermelon is a fruit eaten all over the world and is loved by people of every shade. African Americans are very often taunted by the stereotype of eating the fruit. Many of my students are not aware of the origin of the watermelon and how it arrived to many countries around the world, particularly the United States. The watermelon as well as fried chicken are a few of the foods and early culinary techniques that had been consumed and developed by Africans and African Americans that have been and continue to be deemed as inappropriate foodstuffs to eat by early Europeans. These Europeans had conditioned the enslaved Africans to be ashamed of their cultural traditions. Many of these culinary traditions are now very prevalent food items in American cuisine. Hall states, “it remains unclear precisely when and how African- domesticated watermelon came to be cultivated and consumed in North America, but by the early 1730s Virginia of both races had grown quite fond of it.”46 Subsequently, the fruit being a domesticated fruit from West Africa and that it is commonly consumed by African Americans is not a rare coincidence. The fruit arrived with Africans on slave ships as food to sustain them during the voyage to the Americas only to become one of America’s favorite summertime treats. Hall goes on to say that “despite the stereotypical identification of African Americans with watermelon, there is a kernel of truth to the linkage between the people’s and the foods’ African origin.”47 The same is usually said of the Irish and the potato. This kind of knowledge, if taught in the urban center classroom, would help to eliminate a certain level of shame felt by many African Americans. The ways in which African American food is prepared can also be traced back to Africa. Africans upon their entrance into the United States were fully aware of cooking foods wrapped in leaves, grilling, roasting and frying. The incorporation of excessive spices has survived the African heritage as well.

Peanuts are also very popular among African American foodstuffs. Although very important as a major ingredient in many dishes or as a snack, the peanut is not indigenous to West or Central Africa. However, the peanut entered the United States by way of the enslaved African. “Although indigenous to South America as a crop, it was first brought to Africa by Portuguese sailors and then to Virginia from Africa by enslaved Africans. The peanut was used to feed Africans on the middle passage.”48 With the introduction of the peanut, Africans were able to incorporate it to create and produce very appetizing dishes. One dish that is very common throughout West Africa is “peanut butter soup,” “peanut butter sauce,” or “groundnut stew” depending on the region of West Africa where it is cooked. This is a sauce made with ground peanuts or peanut butter as its main ingredient. This sauce is served over cooked white rice. Surprisingly, this dish did not survive or even evolve into a different culinary form during the African transition to African American. However, this dish is widely eaten among many Americans in both Southwest and West Philadelphia West African restaurants today.

African Artistic Legacies in Music and Dance

Music and dance have played an integral role in the survival of the African in America, and distinctive styles of movement, rhythm, and vocalizing were noted by W.E. B. Du Bois as an African legacy: “Nevertheless, there can still be traced not only in words and phrases but in customs, literature and art, and especially in music and dance, something of the African heritage of the black folk in America.”49 Songs and dance have been more than a social device in the African American community. “Slave traders brought African instruments on board ships and encouraged slaves to sing and dance for exercise during the long voyage to the New World. During the slave trade, African music and dance were often encouraged on slave ships. This practice existed because slave traders believed their human cargoes were better able to survive the horrible, inhumane conditions of the middle passages if they were permitted to dance aboard the ship.”50 Africans had been performing musically since the middle passage. Relying on song and dance was just one of the many strategies utilized by slavers in an attempt to conceal the horrors of the trip across the Atlantic Ocean. As a result of the transatlantic slave trade, several African instruments made their way to the United States. “Slaves brought the banjo, the musical bow, several other stringed instruments, and a number of percussive instruments with them from Africa.”51 The banjo is another African introduction to the world that did not continue as an African retention in the African American community. In spite of this, the banjo has survived as an Africanism primarily for its extensive use by whites in bluegrass and country music.

African American music has developed into many genres and transcended many musical forms since the slave ship of the middle passage. African American music in America has evolved from its African roots to Negro spirituals, to blues to ragtime to vaudeville to gospel to jazz to rhythm and blues to rock and roll to its modern form of hip hop and rap. With each genre of African American music came a new form of artistic expression; each new form with its own distinctive characteristic. African American dance styles and forms of music both have their foundations heavily embedded in the African tradition. “Slaves……….continued to utilize song in much the way their African ancestors had. Music remained a central, living element in their daily expression and activities.”52 The enslaved African retained much of his African tradition in his practice of song and dance. These artistic retentions in music and dance carried over into the African American culture. “The New World experiences of black people encouraged them to maintain ties to their African past.”53 Music and forms of dance were very important to the enslaved African and African Americans for special occasions, events, and activities. “Slaves………had frequent recourse to their music, and they used it in almost every conceivable setting for almost every possible purpose.”54 However, song and dance played an even more important role in the slaves’ daily lives. Music was especially important for work activities. “Throughout slavery black workers continued to time their work routines to the tempo of their music in much the same manner as their African ancestor.”55 The similarities among African and African American music can be found in the use of percussion instruments, more specifically, the drum or due to advanced technology, the drum sound. This drum sound also contributes to the high level of base found in so much African American music. “The most noticeable African feature in African American music is its rhythmic complexity.”56 Maultsby goes on to explain this rhythmic complexity:

In both African and African American music, rhythm is organized in multilinear forms. Different patterns, which are repeated with slight, if any, variation, are assigned to various instruments. The combination of these patterns produces polyrhythms. Polyrhythmic structures increase the overall intensity of musical performances because each repetition produces added rhythmic tension at the same time the repetition of patterns in one part allows for textual and melodic variation in another.57

This rhythmic complexity can be found in various genres of African American songs today. The jazz, hip-hop and, rap genres of music are examples of this complexity found in African American music.

Another “African musical conception that influenced African American music is the view that music is a communal activity. Music is an interactive human activity in which everyone is expected to participate: there are no detached listeners, but rather a communion of participants.”58 This communal effect of music can be witnessed in the African American Baptist church. “Music-making is conceived as a communal/participatory group activity. Black people create, interpret, and experience music out of an African frame of reference-one that shapes musical sound, interpretation, and behavior and makes black music tradition throughout the world a unified whole.”59 The involvement of all the participants is a direct West African inheritance. The participation of everyone in the musical activity builds a sense of belongingness and community. “The notion of “inclusion” in the music-making process becomes another “extra-musical” dimension of the performance process in both Africa and African American music.”60 The communal quality of African

American music also serves as an example of the call and response form of music so distinctive in African music. Very early on music had the tendency of functioning not only as a social venue, but also as a tool providing the enslaved African with a sense of humanness.

“It is in the dance domain especially that many African principles and moral values continue to vibrate and in America as in Africa Negro music, both vocal and instrumental, was intimately tied to bodily movement.”61 Many African American music and dance forms are intrinsically interconnected. One will inescapably affect the other. Just as music is undeniably important in the African American community, so is dance. “In sub-Saharan cultures, body motion and music are viewed as interrelated components of the same process. The dance becomes the music, and the music the dance.”62 From his research, Lawrence Levine discusses the connection between the African and African American dance forms and how the former has laid a concrete foundation for the latter:

The basic characteristics of African dance, with its gliding, dragging, shuffling steps, its flexed, fluid bodily position as opposed to the stiffly erect position of European dancers, its imitations of such animals as the buzzard and the eagle, its emphasis upon flexibility and improvisation, its concentration upon movement outward from the pelvic region which whites found lewd, its tendency to eschew bodily contact, and its propulsive swinging rhythm, were perpetuated for centuries in the dances of American slaves and ultimately affected all American dance profoundly.63

The body, in many cases, is used in a number of ways to add to the musical affects of the event. To a certain degree, the body becomes an instrument. “The common usage of body percussion (hand claps and slapping of hands against the body) and the history of African American dances that produce sounds created by the feet, from the shuffling sounds of the nineteenth-century religious dance called “ring shout” to twentieth-century examples of the association of body motion with music.”64

African Linguistic Legacies

Despite scholarly findings to the contrary, a widespread belief persists that the transatlantic slave trade and the institution of slavery destroyed the use of any African language in the Americas. However, American English is saturated with Africanisms. “In the process of re-creating themselves, these New World Africans invented new forms of communication. Because the languages that had served them well in Africa did not serve them in the new environment, they created throughout the Western Hemisphere new language systems at variance with the English, Dutch, Spanish, French, and Portuguese of their colonizers.”65 Several words and phrases of African origin evolved as a result of this interaction between Africans and the Europeans that enslaved them. “If North American slavery eroded the Africans’ linguistic and institutional life, it nevertheless allowed them to continue and to develop the patterns of verbal art which were so central to their past culture.”66

Unbeknownst to a substantial number of our students today, many of the words we utilize in our everyday language are of African origin. Language was a barrier to adequate communication between the European slavers and enslaved Africans. Newly formulated words had to be created as well as negotiated so that both could be understood. “This pidginizing process began around the slave baracoons of the West African coast. There captured blacks from separate regions were forced to blend their distinctive languages as best they could while awaiting deportation to the New World.”67 The use of Pidgin English continued on the slave plantation.

When we begin to examine the words of African origin, we find that an overwhelmingly large number of the words originated from the Wolof (also called Jolof) peoples of West Africa. The Wolof people are from the Guinea Coast area of West Africa in what is now known as Senegal. “The Wolof were the largest group of Africans to come to the American colonies in the seventeenth century and were predominantly house servants. As they had extensive, close contact with European Americans, they may have been the first Africans whose cultural elements and language were assimilated into and retained within the developing culture of America.”68 Despite the ability of the Wolofs to communicate more frequently with Europeans due to closer contact and interaction, it was the Bantu peoples who exerted the greatest influence on North American culture. “The Bantus of Central Africa had the largest homogeneous culture and……thus contributed significantly to the development of African American culture.” 69 The contact that each group had with whites determined the degree to which they were able to retain a greater portion of their cultural past. The enslaved capacity of the West Africans allowed them to be in much closer proximity to whites than the Central Africans. Thus, the Bantus were enslaved in a different capacity. “Bantus were predominantly field hands or used in activities that required little or no contact with Euro-Americans, they did not confront the problem of acculturation as directly and intensely as did the West African domestic servants and artisans. Coexisting in relative isolation from other groups, the Bantus were able to maintain a strong sense of unity, a cultural heritage, which they passed on to their American descendants.”70

My brief research regarding Africanisms in American language indicates that many of the words that Americans use on a daily basis are derived from a variety of West and Central African words. I discovered that some of the words are derived from the Mande, Efik/Ibibio, Kimbundu, Bantu and Wolof ethnic groups. However, a disproportionate number of the words I investigated are derivatives of the Wolof language. This is a direct result of their large numbers, their immediate contact with whites, and their ability to negotiate and create words each group could fully understand. Commonly used American English derived from African languages include:

goober peanut
waw kay o ke ok, okay
dega dig
hipi hip, hippie


kai cat
gay guys
jey jive
fas fuzz
jamboree jamboree
yam yam
banana banana
wow yes
mbuku booboo
mubambi bambi
umbundu gumbo
tote tote
mbanza banjo
kidogo dog, doggie
mbakara buckaroo,
bronco 71

“Among the many other African derived words adapted by white southerners and later assimilated into American culture are bowdacious, bozo (stupid), cooter (turtle), goober (peanut), hullabaloo, hully-gully, juke (box), moola (money), pamper, Polly Wolly-Doodle,….., uh-huh, unh-unh, daddy, buddy,….., kola (as in Coca-Cola), elephant, gorilla,….., okra, tater, and turnip.”72  These words have survived American English only to be used in the daily communication of Americans from all backgrounds. We must not forget the African influence on the speech of the American South. Southerners, specifically, those in the deep south, have a very distinctive tongue. “The musical quality of Southern speech is believed to have derived from Africa. Generations of interaction with African speech patterns gave white Southerners their distinctive drawl.”73 Additional African legacies include styles of hand gesturing and the use of tone to affect meaning when speaking, the custom of addressing elders whether or not they are related by blood, as “auntie” and “uncle” to show respect. This is a custom that actually originated on the slave ships during the middle passage. The horrors of the slave trade, the middle passage, and slavery had the effect of merging relationships and producing social bonds among the Africans. Africans of different ethnic groups who would ordinarily have no contact began to look out for one another.74

How African American women wear their hair is another direct survival from her African ancestor. The braided, twisted or locked hair were techniques used by African women to maintain and manage their hair. Finally, the naming practices that exist in the African American community constitute another African survival. African Americans tend to give nicknames, primarily as terms of endearment. This dual naming practice allows an individual to receive a birth name and an intimate nickname usually known by family members. These survivals as well as many more not mentioned in this curriculum unit give American culture a richness that makes it unique. As educators we must make a conscious effort to impart the history of every contributor so that our children may have a full awareness of all those that have made and continue to make America great.


The objective of this curriculum unit is to augment the Social Studies core curriculum. As the different components of Social Studies, particularly African American History, are addressed in the general curriculum, this unit can be referred to as a source to providing the missing textbook information that may be vital to our student’s full body of knowledge. The unit can also be utilized as a tool to building reading skills using social studies content. This allows the teacher to implement the teaching strategy of teaching across the curriculum since this unit can be used both in Reading and Writing as well as Social Studies.

A secondary goal of the unit is to familiarize students with the use of as many primary source documents as possible through analyzing, describing and defining historical documents such as slaver advertisements to determine the location of slave importation. Along with examining primary source documents, students will conduct a hands-on analysis of the African foods they will study to become more familiar with foods of the African continent. Students will also have the opportunity to view films regarding African dance retentions. Finally, students will listen to audio of African music that they may be able to utilize contrast and comparison to determine the African survivals in African American music. These lessons and activities that will incorporate differentiated instruction as well as build students’ background knowledge and enhance critical thinking skills.

Classroom Activities

Unit I: Introduction

Supplies needed:

  • Pre-printed Writing Prompt
  • Chart Paper
  • Markers
  • “Heritage” by Countee Cullen (See Appendix)
  • Graphic Organizer Worksheet (See Appendix)
  • Venn Diagram Worksheet (See Appendix)

Writing Prompt: What is Africa to Me?

Have students write a brief statement answering this prompt (40- 50 words). Upon completion of the writing piece, have students share out to begin dialogue and discussion. During the dialogue, chart your students’ answers to give them a visual. Identify both negative and positive responses, then have the class arrive at a conclusion about their thoughts of the continent.

Poem Analysis:  Countee Cullen’s – “Heritage”

Using a pre-printed graphic organizer, chunk the poem “Heritage” and have students complete an analysis to determine its meaning.

Poem and Writing Piece Comparison and Contrast:

Using the Venn Diagram Worksheet, have students determine if their thoughts on the poem “Heritage” differed from or were the same as the author’s. Have them indicate the differences and/or similarities.

Unit II: Documentary Analysis

Supplies needed:

  • Ali Mazrui’s 9 part, 9 hour Documentary Commentary DVD or VHS series “The Africans” (See Appendix)
  • DVD or VHS player or laptop, LCD projector and a white wall
  • A teacher made Graphic Organizer
  • A pre-printed teacher made film questionnaire for each part
  • A teach made film assessment for each part (5– 10 questions)

Film Review and Analysis:

Have the class view each of the nine parts to the series and document important points using the teacher made graphic organizer. Give an assessment at the end of each part.

Unit III: Medicinal Legacies

Supplies needed:

  • Chart of African herbs (See Appendix)

Class and home Activity:

Have students review chart listing the herbs added to America’s pharmacoepia. Use it as a tool to encourage dialogue and discussion. Have students report on home remedies used for: headaches, stomachaches, hangovers, sore throats, and minor cuts. Are there particular “tonics” given at certain seasons to boost health? How were these remedies and tonics learned?

Unit IV: Culinary Legacies

Supplies needed:

  • Pre-printed Writing Prompt
  • Teacher created graphic organizer
  • Foodstuffs indigenous to Africa
  • Fresh whole okra
  • Raw and cooked rice
  • Blackeyed peas, kidney beans, lima beans
  • Peanuts and peanut butter
  • Watermelon (if in season)
  • Yams
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Any other fruit or vegetable indigenous to West or Central Africa

Writing Prompts: What’s in your kitchen cabinet? Do you know where that food came from? What did your family have for dinner last night? Was your food baked, grilled or fried?

Have students produce a brief writing about the foods in their household as well as their ideas about where the food may have come from. Encourage the students to use as many details and examples as possible.

Have the students observe (using their senses) and access the indigenous African crops and document their thoughts and ideas Writing Prompt Worksheet regarding the crops. Also, have students guess where the crop is from; which part of Africa? Dialogue and discuss observations and feelings. Determine whether any of these crops are still eaten in the students’ households.

Primary Source Document Analysis:

The analysis of relevant primary source documents will provide students with proof that European slavers and slave owners preferred Africans from specific regions based on their skill expertise. The following notices indicate the sale of Africans from the regions of interest to planters, advertisements seeking overseers to work plantations as well as help from the public in locating runaway slaves. These sources reveal a few of the African legacies discussed earlier in the unit. Students will conduct a thorough primary source document analysis utilizing both general analysis questions and document related questions.

Supplies needed:

  • Knowledge of the types of primary source documents
  • Knowledge of how to analyze primary source documents
  • Teacher made analysis worksheet using general and document related questions
  • The following primary source documents:
  1. May 19, 1784 Auction Notice for the sale of Windward Coast Africans 0African%20Coast%20and%20the%20Americas/pages/Advertiseme nt%20for%20Slave%20Sale,%2018th%20cent_jpg.htm
  1. July 24, 1769 Auction Notice for the sale of 94 Sierra Leonians 0African%20Coast%20and%20the%20Americas/pages/Slave%20A uction%20poster%20Charlestown_jpg.htm
  1. July 25, 1774 Auction Notice for the sale of Africans from Guinea or Angola, Advertisement for an overseer and a runaway slave 0African%20Coast%20and%20the%20Americas/pages/Advertiseme nts%20for%20Slave%20Sale%20and%20Return%20of%20Fugitive s,%20Georgia,%201774_jpg.htm
  1. Late 18th Century Auction Notice for the sale of Windward and Rice Coast Africans 0African%20Coast%20and%20the%20Americas/pages/Advertiseme nt%20for%20Slave%20Sale,%20Charleston,%20South%20Carolina, %20late%2018th%20cent_jpg.htm
  2. September 25, 1852 Auction Notice for the sale of African familiar to growing cotton and cultivating rice

Primary Source Photograph/Picture/Painting Analysis:

Photographs, pictures, and paintings allows teachers to incorporate differentiated instruction to meet the needs of students who learn through visuals. The photographs of choice should capture the particular time period being studied. The photograph/pictures/paintings used here capture slaves using African labor techniques.

Supplies needed:

  • Knowledge of the types of photographs
  • Knowledge of how to analyze photographs from each category
  • Teacher made analysis worksheet using general and document related questions
  • The following photographs/pictures/paintings:
  1. Africans cultivating rice JPG

Unit V: African Music and Dance Legacies

Supplies needed:

  • Authentic West or Central African music and authentic Caribbean music African American music (rap, hip hop, R&B, jazz, gospel, blues, country, bluegrass, etc.)
  • CD or tape cassette player or laptop or computer with audible speakers
  • Photos of authentic African instruments (See Appendix)
  • Teacher made Venn Diagram

Writing Prompts: What is your favorite type of music? What similarities and differences do you hear in this music?

Have students produce a brief writing piece giving details about what type of music they like and why. Dialogue and discuss the answers shared by students.

Audio Analysis:

Have students listen to both African and African American (any type) and use the teacher-made Venn Diagram to complete a contrast and comparison of what it is they hear.

Unit VI: African Linguistic Legacies

Supplies needed:

  • Chart of African derived words (See Word Chart located under African Linguistic Legacies section)
  • Dictionary
  • Graphic Organizer

Word Analysis:

Distribute the African “Word Chart” and have students use the dictionary to determine the origin of the word documenting their findings on the graphic organizer. Continue to complete the chart during the course of the school year as students encounter new words of African origin.

Annotated Bibliography

Suggested Teacher Readings

  1. Campbell, James T., 2006. Middle Passages: African American Journeys to Africa, 1787-2005. New York: Penguin Books.

This book details some of the journeys African Americans have made to Africa in search of their ancestral roots.

  1. Genovese, Eugene D. 1976 [1972]. Roll, Jordon, Roll: The World the Slaves Made. New York: Vintage Books.

In this book, which won the Bancroft Prize, Genovese offers a historical account of the foundations of African American culture in the creative adaptations of African cultural ideas to the exigencies of life on the Plantations.

  1. Gilroy, Paul. 1993. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Gilroy describes the emergence of the Black Atlantic as a distinctive modern cultural formation that rings the Atlantic Ocean. Rooted in the routes of the slave ships and their ports of call, the Black Atlantic forms a conscience of modernity, and an antidote to its excesses.

  1. Gordon, April, A. and Gordon, Donald L., Editors, 2007. Understanding Contemporary Africa. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc.

This edited fourth edition book gives a detailed account of Africa from a historical perspective that includes the continent and its peoples role in politics, its economies, its involvement in international relations, environmental problems, family and kinship, population, urbanization, religion, literature, and the role women have played in the continents overall development.

  1. Hall, Gwendolyn Midlo, 2005. Slavery and African Ethnicities in the Americas: Restoring the Links. Chapel Hills: The University of North Carolina.

Hall offers a detailed insight into the various ethnicities of African peoples and how these ethnicities helped to shape the Americas.

  1. Heywood, Lind M and Thornton, John K., 2007. Central Africans, Atlantic Creoles, and the Foundation of the Americas, 1585-1660. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

This book gives an account of Africans that were taken from the regions of West and Central Africa and how these Africans laid the foundations for what we know as North and South America.

  1. Holloway, Joseph E., 1990. Africanisms in American Culture. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Holloway has given us an edited version of various writings on the African retentions that exist in America and how they have affected American culture.

  1. Jalloh, Alusine and Maizlish, Stephen E., 1996. The African Diaspora; Arlington: University of Texas.

Jalloh and Maizlish give an edited account of a global African diaspora in terms of its affect on trade, slavery in Africa as well as the transatlantic slave trade, slavery in America, creolization, and abolitionist in Central and South America.

  1. Levine, Lawrence, W., 1977. Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought From Slavery Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Inc.

Levine details the African legacy in music, dance, art, food, language, humor, medicine and religious beliefs and practices from the transatlantic slave trade through slavery and into the Civil Rights Movement.

  1. Okpewho, Isidore, Boyce Davies, Carole and Mazrui, Ali A., 1999. The African Diaspora: African Origins and New World Identities. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

This edited account discusses the various African origins and they have come to shape the identities of the New World.

  1. Piersen, William D., 1993. Black Legacy: Americas Hidden Heritage. Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press.

Piersen discusses the “hidden” heritage of the African American culture as it continues to exist as a result of a transference from African culture.

  1. Thornton, John, 1992. Africa and the Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800. New York: Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Thornton discusses how the continent of Africa and the various ethnic groups of the continent have contributed to the making of the Atlantic World (America, South America, Caribbean Islands).

  1. Walker, Sheila, S, Editor, 2001. African Roots/American Cultures: Africa in the Creation of the Americas. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Ms. Walker has put together an edited version of writings from various authors who discuss African retentions that exist in the culture of American music, art, dance, language, foodways, medicine, humor, etc.

  1. Wood, Peter H., 1974. Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion. New York: The Norton Library.

Wood gives a detailed account of the events that led up to the Stono Rebellion in South Carolina. He explains how such a rebellion was inevitable. He also briefly discusses some of the African retentions from that period.

Suggested Student Readings              See Lesson Plans


The following websites can be utilized to obtain resources and information to implement the lesson plans and additional references:

To access the Pennsylvania State Academic Standards for Reading, Writing, and History go to:

Map of Africa:



Print Countee Cullen’s Heritage poem:

To obtain a printable graphic organizer:

To print a Venn Diagram:

Summary of Ali Mazrui’s 9 part series “The Africans”

African Instruments

The Banjo:

The Musical bow:

African Stringed instruments:

African Foodstuffs




Sweet Potato (for contrast and comparison):

Blackeyed peas:


African Herbs:

Visit any authentic African Food Market for cooking and medicinal herbs or Google African Herbs and Spices to create your own African herb chart


  • Mazrui, Ali, A., 1986, “The Africans,” 9 part video commentary series
  • Jalloh, Alusine and Maizlish, Stephen E., 1996, The African Diaspora, Arlington, Texas A & M University Press, pg 10
  • Holloway, Joseph E., “The Origins of African American Culture,” in Holloway, Joseph E., ed, 1990, Africanisms in American Culture, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, pg 3. See also Lawrence W. Levine, Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Through From Slavery to Freedom, New York, Oxford University Press, p. 4: “With few exceptions – the most notable being W.E.B. Du Bois and Melville Herskovits—most scholars until very recently have assumed that because United States slavery eroded so much of the linguistic and institutional side of African life it necessarily wiped out almost all of the fundamental aspects of traditional African cultures. What has been lost sight of too easily in these pronouncements is that culture is more than the sum total of institutions and language. It is expressed as well by something less tangible, which anthropologist Robert Redfield has called ‘style of life.’”
  • Asante, Molefi Kete, “African Elements in African American English,” in Holloway, Joseph E., ed, 1990, Africanisms in American Culture, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, pg 67
  • Thornton, John, 1992, Africa and the Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800, New York, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pg 320
  • Maultsby, Portia, “Africanisms in African American Music,” in Holloway, Joseph E., ed, 1990, Africanisms in American Culture, Bloomington, Indiana University Press,

pg 326

  • Maultsby in Holloway, Africanisms, pg 326
  • Campbell, James. T., 2006, Middle Passages: African-American Journeys to Africa, 1787-2005, New York, Penguin Books, pg 10
  • Neff, Jeffrey W., “Africa: A Geographic Preface,” in Gordon, April A., and Gordon, Donald L., Editors, 2007, Understanding Contemporary Africa, Boulder, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc., pg 48
  • Hall, Gwendolyn Midlo, 2005, Slavery and African Ethnicities in the Americas: Restoring the Links, Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press, pg 42
  • Piersen, William D., 1993, Black Legacy: America’s Hidden Heritage, Amherst, The University of Massachusetts Press, preface xv
  • Gordon, Understanding Contemporary Africa, pg 48
  • Gordon, Understanding Contemporary Africa pg 48
  • Marley, Robert Nesta, “Rastaman Vibrations,” 1976, quote from “Rat Race” track
  • Holloway, Joseph E., “The Origins of African American Culture,” in Holloway, Joseph E., ed, 1990, Africanisms in American Culture, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, pg 18
  • Levine, Lawrence, W., 2007, Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought From Slavery to Freedom, Oxford, Oxford University Press, pg 65
  • Fishkin-Fisher, Shelley, “Reclaiming the Black Presence in Mainstream America,” in Walker, Sheila, S., ed, 2001, African Roots/American Cultures: Africa in the Creation of the Americas, Lanham, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., pg 83
  • Piersen, Black Legacy, preface xv
  • Fishkin-Fisher, African Roots/American Cultures: Africa in the Creation of the Americas, pg 85
  • Levine, Lawrence, W., Black Culture and Black Consciousness, pg 65
  • Piersen, Black Legacy, pg 99
  • Levine, Black Culture, pg 65
  • Piersen, Black Legacy, pg 99