Countering the Master Narrative: The Development of the Alternative Black Curriculum in Social Studies, 1890-1940
Murray, Alana D.
MacDonald, Victoria M
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ABSTRACT Title of Document: COUNTERING THE MASTER NARRATIVE: THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ALTERNATIVE BLACK CURRICULUM IN SOCIAL STUDIES, 1890-1940 Alana D. Murray, Ph.D., Curriculum And Instruction, specialization in Minority and Urban Education Directed By: Professor, Victoria-Marĩa MacDonald, and Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the development of the alternative black curriculum in social studies from 1890-1940. W.E.B. Du Bois and Carter G. Woodson worked in collaboration with women educators Nannie H. Burroughs and Anna Julia Cooper to create an alternative black curriculum that would support the intellectual growth of black children. There is a growing body of work, initially articulated by male scholars, that demonstrates the basic principles of the alternative black curriculum, a curriculum that reinterprets dominant narratives in US and world history about the African and African-American experience. My study illustrates how this curriculum was in many ways supplemented and even furthered by an ongoing dialogue with the pedagogical work of African-American women school founders, administrators, librarians, and teachers. Embracing both a critical race theory and integrated gender framework, an analysis of the alternative black curriculum will deepen and strengthen our understanding of the diverse contributors to social studies. Utilizing archival materials from the collection of Nannie Helen Burroughs in the Library of Congress, I document the ways in which women co-created an alternative black curriculum that challenged traditional narratives. I conducted a textual reading of the pageant, When Truth Gets A Hearing, authored by Nannie H. Burroughs, in order to establish how black women contributed to the development of the alternative black curriculum. I also compared When Truth Gets A Hearing to W.E.B. Du Bois's pageant, The Star of Ethiopia. In addition, I developed a case study of the social studies curriculum for National Training School for Women and Girls (NTS), a school Nannie H. Burroughs established with the explicit purpose of developing and nurturing African-American girls. The intent of my case study is to document how the alternative black curriculum in social studies was implemented in a school setting, with the hope that it might serve as a blueprint that teachers of social studies can use to restructure the current social studies curriculum to include a more comprehensive understanding of black history.