Ms. Browning-Morgan has piloted an innovative course first developed by the Toronto District School Board at Walkerville Collegiate. The course illuminates the history of a unique group of people who settled in the local region to escape slavery in the United States.
Working with the Essex County Black Historical Research Society and the Essex County District School Board to develop materials which highlight the history of African Canadians in the region, she served as a lead researcher, writer, and editor for the project. In Ms. Browning-Morgan’s class, students acquire an understanding of the cultural, social, economic, and political contributions from Africa and the diaspora in local and global contexts.
Students’ appreciation and understanding of the past is enriched by the participation and involvement of community organizations and inspirational speakers. Students are asked to research and investigate key people and events that have profoundly influenced Canada, and reflect on factors that have influenced attitudes and perceptions concerning people of African descent in Canada today. They express what they have learned through a number of creative and participatory projects, such as mounting school campaigns to raise awareness and stop the perpetuation of stereotypes and racial slurs, staging a black cultural showcase, and preparing poetry, dance, music, drama, and slide presentations.
Some of this year’s performances included an Underground Railroad rap, music by Oscar Peterson, and a fiddle rendition of various spiritual songs that once guided fugitive slaves up to Canada via the Underground Railroad. More than the knowledge of history, Ms. Browning-Morgan’s students, many of whom are of African descent, begin to see themselves in the story of Canada and thereby gain a stronger sense of pride, identity and connection to their country.