What is the purpose of the 1776 Unites Curriculum?
The stories of black Americans have frequently been under-represented in history curricula, prompting many Black parents, educators, churches, and other organizations to produce their own. In that tradition, the Woodson Center has created a free high school-level supplemental curriculum that centers around compelling stories of black Americans’ incredible achievements against the odds, as well as character-based lessons that enable students of all races to take charge of their futures and find their place in the American story.
Too often upon hearing about our curriculum people say “why have I never heard these stories before?” We hope to change that.
Who is the curriculum designed for?
Our lessons are designed for use in high school classroom settings but have been adapted for use in homeschools, after school community programs, and even returning citizens ministries.
How is it structured? Is it a civics curriculum?
The curriculum features two types of lessons. The first features stories – a “look back” — about largely unknown, heroic African-American figures from the past and present who triumphed over adverse conditions to make vital contributions to their communities and the country as a whole. The “look forward” component includes lessons that help the next generation develop the types of character-based strengths like resiliency, optimism, tough-mindedness, and courage that are most associated with human flourishing.
Each lesson contains a slide deck and supporting materials (discussion questions, activity ideas, evaluation tools, learning standards, curated links to appropriate media, and additional resources). The lessons are mapped to learning standards for Social Studies, English, and Social Emotional Learning and can be used to supplement curricula in any of those areas.
Rather than cover our founding documents such as the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, etc., which many other curricula cover well, we offer lesser-known stories of Black Americans who have overcome incredible odds by embracing the principles of our nation’s founding.
The 1776 Unites Curriculum can be implemented anywhere where character formation is happening, whether that be in schools, camps, after school programs, churches, or homes.
Can the lessons be taught sequentially?
Yes, they are available as stand-alone lessons that can used as supplements or sequenced chronologically to constitute an entire semester’s worth of content.
How do you select topics? Do the lessons only cover Black history, or are there stories about people from of other races and cultures?
We typically select stories of lesser-known figures to paint a more complete and nuanced picture of the Black American experience. Hundreds of these stories have been passed down in Black families from generation to generation, and we want them to be available to all students.
As a Black-led organization founded by Civil Rights Movement veteran Bob Woodson, our initial lessons focus on figures from Black history, though we anticipate broadening our reach over time. Even so, the lives featured in our lessons often crossed multiple cultures: the matriarch of astronomer Benjamin Banneker’s multiracial family, Mary Walsh, was a white Englishwoman who had once been indentured; mariner Paul Cuffe’s mother and many of his family members and business partners were Wampanoag Indians from Cape Cod; the famed Black Wall Street of Tulsa, Oklahoma was largely created by Black Americans who were also members of Creek or Seminole tribes. Stories of resilience in American history cut across race and culture.
Who creates the lessons?
We have a team of researchers, writers, historians, and instructional designers who write, design and produce the lessons. Our lessons utilize original source materials and other vetted materials which are cited and listed in each lesson.
How do I access the lessons? Do they cost anything?
They are free from our website with registration! We are able to provide them for free because of the donations we receive to support this work. Click here to donate.
Where are the lessons used?
Surveyed users tell us they are teaching the curriculum in public and private schools, homeschool settings, after school and community programs, and returning citizens ministries. Watch this webinar featuring panelists using it in a variety of settings.
How does the curriculum address “social justice” and other trends in classrooms today (1619 Project, Black Lives Matter, equity, culturally responsive pedagogy, etc.)?
Our goal is to present a more truthful and complete telling of the Black American experience – one that includes both our nation’s grievous failings as well as our many triumphs. Click here for a short video that captures our mission and perspective.
Will you publish the curriculum in a book and/or work with major curriculum publishing companies to produce more content?
We are committed to keeping the materials online and available for free, but remain open to new methods of creation and distribution. Please contact us if you are interested in helping us broaden our offerings.
What can I do to help spread the word? How can I get my school to use the materials?
Ask them to incorporate into your school’s offerings! Send them this one pager (insert link) and this video link to our curriculum webinar. 1776 Unites Scholar and Woodson Center Senior Fellow Ian Rowe has also given powerful testimony to a number of state legislatures and boards of education including in Ohio, New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Rhode Island. You can also view and share this video produced by 1776 Unites that conveys the spirit with which the curriculum was created.
What about K-8 lessons?
Planning and production is underway for K-8 materials. We anticipate those to be available in early 2022. The best way to stay informed is to sign up for our mailing list.
Do you have representatives available to speak at school board meeting or to administrators to help introduce the curriculum?
Unfortunately, we are unable to accommodate all these requests, but these resources can help you communicate with your community and schools:
- One-page overview of 1776 Unites Curriculum (need to post and link)
- 1776 Unites Open Letter to School Boards
- Testimony of 1776 Unites Scholar and Woodson Center Senior Fellow Ian Rowe to state and local boards of education and legislatures, including in Ohio, New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Rhode Island
- Video from our August 2021 webinar “1776 Unites Curriculum: How lesser known stories from Black History can inspire students of all backgrounds” (For highlights click here; full 60 minute video click here).
- 1776 Unites “New Declaration” video
How often do you post lessons?
We typically post one new lesson per month. We anticipate keeping that pace and hope to accelerate in the future, resources permitting. Please click here to donate and help bring more content to our schools and communities!
Visit our curriculum registration page and download our lessons today!