Dr. David Childs, D.D., Ph.D.
Northern Kentucky University
In 2023 we find ourselves debating whether or not topics of diversity and inclusion can be taught in K-12 schools in any meaningful way. More specifically, some states in the US are proposing a revised and inaccurate version of African American history, much to the chagrin of those who are concerned about our freedom as a society. In order to combat this ideological warfare it is important to provide educators with tools and resources to bring more diversity into school curriculum, thereby providing students and the general public with a broader perspective.
Ned Huddleston an African-American cowboy and former slave, pictured circa 1880s. Ned was at various points a legitimate stunt rider and a horse and cattle rustler.
With African American history already having been in some cases lost, but more often hidden and suppressed, it has always been a challenge to try to bring students and the general public up to speed on the topic. Indeed, there are many topics within Black history that very little is known about including the ancient African empires, African American arts and literature, free Blacks in the antebellum south, the history of the Black church, hip-hop history and even the history of African Americans in the wild west.
In previous Democracy and Me posts we have written about the history of Black cowboys and provided resources and lesson plans. In this article we would like to continue within that subject matter and provide educators and the general public more resources. A research article entitled How the West Was Really Won: Uncovering the History of Black Cowboys in the West (With Classroom Teaching Resources) does just that. It contains extensive resources on the subject matter published in the Summer 2023 edition of Oregon Social Studies journal.
Bill Pickett a cowboy and rodeo performer. From Texas, he became a ranch hand and invented the technique of bulldogging, a method that subdues cattle by biting their lip.
Here is the abstract to give readers a glimpse of what the article is about:
“Because of the legacy of white supremacy in the U.S., popular culture and media outlets have all but omitted the subject of Black cowboys from portrayals of the Wild West. Furthermore, the subject matter has been largely absent from school curriculum. Although much has been written about the history of Black cowboys in North America, very little has been written about how this subject matter can be integrated into social studies courses to enrich curriculum. The essay will begin with a brief history of cowboys in North America, with a discussion about the lack of diversity in how popular culture and school curriculum portrays the American West. From there we will offer a historiography that examines how scholars have written about Black cowboys since the early twentieth century. The last section will offer a discussion and unit showing creative ways the history of Black cowboys can be integrated into social studies teaching, aligned with the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards. The C3 framework focuses on the idea of using inquiry to teach meaningful and engaging social studies lessons (NCSS, 2013).”
NOTE: Readers can see the full article free of charge by clicking the title here: How the West Was Really Won: Uncovering the History of Black Cowboys in the West (With Classroom Teaching Resources) and going to Volume 11 Number 1 2023, pages 35-60.
Please share what resources you find useful for your teaching.
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