Merging Past and Present: Historical African American Literacy Development and Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy in the Contemporary English Language Arts Classroom

2019-06-10T17:44:27Z (GMT) by Lauren E Dalton
For African Americans, literacy has historically been rooted in passion, collaboration, and social justice. This study explores two distinct sites of historical African American literacy development: literary societies of the 1800s and print culture of the Harlem Renaissance. Notably, literacy and culture were fundamentally intertwined during these times, creating an urgency and inspiration for literary pursuits not often seen today. In an effort to rekindle this reverence and utility for literacy in classrooms today, a culturally sustaining pedagogy is called for. Culturally sustaining pedagogy seeks to leverage students’ cultural knowledge and skills. By culturally aligning curriculum and instruction, educators position students to experience the transformative power of literacy—a transformative power that was evident in African American literary societies and through the Harlem Renaissance print culture. This study seeks to merge historical and contemporary approaches to literacy development to reconceptualize literacy education and engagement for all students.