A brief History of Pan-Africanism An Introduction to Africana Studies” Connections to Middle School and High School

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Lesson Plans


Latif Tarik

A Brief History of Pan-Africanism An Introduction to Africana Studies”

Connections to Middle School and High School:

The study of Pan-Africanism as an African-centered political paradigm is essential in understanding the different cultural, political, and social movements that developed in the African Diaspora to help unify African countries and its descendents living in oppressive systems of Jim Crow, colonialism, and apartheid. Collectively, historical figures such as Henry Sylvester Williams, George Padmore, W.E.B Dubious, Edward Blyden, Marcus Garvey, Kwame Nkrumah, Malcolm X, and Haile Selassie forced European systems to accept the reality of African independence and governance. Pan-Africanism as a political structure helped to form the Organization of African Unity and the current African Union. This lesson will help students connect to African and Diaspora studies within the scope of social studies, international studies, world history, social science, and Africana studies.

Learning Goals:

Students will learn and identify with Pan-Africanism as a political paradigm.

Students will learn how Pan-Africanism was established as cultural movements such as Negritude Movement and Harlem Renaissance.

Students will learn how Pan-Africanism helped to establish the Organization of African Unity, its connections to the modern African Union, and African/Africa Diaspora politics.

Students will learn to conduct research on Pan-African historical figures and how their personalities contributed to the Pan-African movement.


A. Students will use principles and paradigms from Pan-Africanism and present a class project using interdisciplinary research methods using multimedia tools such as databases, PowerPoint, bibliographies, primary documents, visuals using timelines, charts, graphs, maps and technology. Students will cite their point of view using Pan-Africanism as the module of their historiography.

B. Students will organize their work using graphic organizers to analyze collected data by sequencing, categorizing, identifying cause and effect, relationships, compare and contrasting, finding the main idea, summarizing, making generalizations and predictions, drawing influences and conclusions.

C. Students will enhance their ability to research, write, and present data according to their grade and skill level using critical thinking skills in knowledge, comprehension, application, analyzing, evaluation, and synthesizing according to Bloom’s Taxonomy.

National Council for Social Studies (NCSS) Standards International: http://www.socialstudies.org/standards/strands

Culture: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of culture and cultural diversity.

Time, Continuity, and Change: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of the ways human beings view themselves in and over time.

Individual Groups and Institutions: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of individual development and identity.

Power, Authority, and Governance: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of interactions among individuals, groups, and institutions.

Global Connections: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of global connections and interdependence.

National Council of Black Studies standards: http://www.ncbsonline.org/

Assist in the creation and implementation of multicultural education programs and materials for K-12 schools and higher education institutions.

Promote scholarly African-centered research on all aspects of the African World experience.

Increase and improve informational resources on Pan-African life and culture to be made available to the general public.

Warm-Up/Anticipatory Set:

Have students use their individual assigned computers or use the computer lab and have students use the internet and read the short biography of Kwame Nkrumah http://www.africawithin.com/nkrumah/nkrumah_bio.htm. Ask students to give a brief response to the following warm-up questions in their history journals:

  1. What is “Pan-Africanism and how does it relate to social movements in Africa and the African Diaspora?

  2. Have students use a Venn diagram compare and contrast “African Political Destiny” to the “Manifest Destiny” of the United States.

  3. Ask students why was it necessary for the founding fathers of the United States to organize a Continental Convention? What similarities does the Pan-African Congress have with the Continental Convention?

  4. Ask students if the concept “United States of Africa” still exists today and if they know how Pan-Africanism led to the formation of the African Union.

Guided Activity

Activity One

Students will work independently and create presentations using multimedia such as PowerPoint or any movie making software to present research on the personalities that contributed to the different paradigms of Pan-Africanism. Students will focus on the contributions historical figures made to Pan-Africanism, their culture, and the effects of their contributions during a specific reference of time. Students may choose one or more Pan-Africanist, but must limit their presentation to 10-12 minutes.

  1. Edward Blyden

  2. W.E.B. Dubious

  3. George Padmore

  4. Kwame Nkrumah

  5. Julius Nyerere

  6. Nelson Mandela

  7. Malcolm X

  8. Eric Williams

  9. Aime Cesaire

  10. Sekou Toure

  11. Kwame Toure

  12. Marcus Garvey

  13. Haile Selassie

  14. CLR James

  15. Walter Rodney

  16. Leopold Senghor

Resources: Internet online library, local library, research journals, educational research sites. See attached list of sources.

Activity Two/Independent Activity

Have students read the history of Pan-Africanism using the following website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/africa/features/storyofafrica/13chapter5.shtml. After students read the history of Pan-Africanism have students to write in their interactive notebooks, post discussion boards, or write in their history journals answering the following discussion questions.

  1. Define Pan-Africanism and describe what kind of vision African leaders wanted for African people.

  2. Name four of the main figures in the article. Describe what part of Africa or the African Diaspora they represented.

  3. During the Fifth Pan-African Conference why do you think there were so many delegates from the British West Indies? How did colonialism play a role in Africa and the African Diaspora?

  4. Research and define the word Diaspora. What were some of the major concerns of the Third African Conference? What is the connection between African countries and people of African descent living in the African Diaspora?

  5. What is colonization and how did colonization contribute to the forming of Pan-Africanism?

  6. How did the formation of the Pan-African conferences lead to the development of the Organization of African Unity?

Activity Three/Group Discussion (Teacher Directed)

Students will learn how different cultural movements such as the Harlem Renaissance and Negritude movement led to the political thought of Pan-Americanism and its contribution to Africana aesthetics. The teacher should use the following websites for guidance:

Required reading: “Arts-Africa-Pan-Africanism, Negritude, Decolonization, and the Search For A New Identity”


Harlem Renaissance Website: http://www.readwritethink.org/lesson_images/lesson252/websites.html


The Harlem Renaissance was a vibrant time that was characterized by innovations in art, literature, music, poetry, and dance. In this lesson, students conduct Internet research, work with an interactive Venn diagram tool, and create a museum exhibit that highlights the work of selected artists, musicians, and poets. The goal of this lesson is to help students understand the historical context of the Harlem Renaissance and what kind of impact it had on African Americans in the United States. Critical thinking, creativity, and interdisciplinary connections are emphasized.

Activity Four

The Search for African Heritage and Identity:

Did the Negritude Movement Find the Answer?”

Mario Marlon Ibao
The Poems of the Negritude Movement
Objective: At the end of this lesson, students will have written journal responses to every poem read in class.
Learning Goals: Comprehend selection using a variety of strategies; read extensively and intensively for different purposes in varied sources including world literature; read widely in order to increase knowledge of his/her own culture, the culture of others, and the common elements across cultures, use writing as a tool for learning; read critically to evaluate text.
Materials: Timeline of Negritude movement, Make and Break paragraphs, Inductive Thinking Model data set, read-aloud and close passages, journals
Procedures: Present the timeline of the Negritude period starting from WWI: using question-and–answer have students identify the significant events, prominent figures, and contribution of the period to Africans’ search for identity. Next, using a Make or Break strategy, have students arrange in order-scrambled paragraphs that describe significant events during the colonization of Africa and the Negritude movement. At the end of the activity, have students write journal entries describing their personal experience relating to oppression or discrimination. Next, using an inductive thinking model strategy, have students categorize 21 to 24 short poems by Senghor, Cesaire, and Damas (7 or 8 poems per author) according to theme. Unlike in the previous lesson, do not tell students the themes, instead have them discover the themes for themselves. At the end of this activity, have students write in their journal a response to a poem they choose from any of the Negritude writers. Next, have students do cloze exercises using poems written by the three Negritude writers. As in the previous activity, when deciding what words to “blank” in the cloze, choose words that have obvious context clues, and vocabulary words that have been learned in previous lessons. In processing the cloze activity, have students discuss in small groups the similarities and differences of the three poets, then write about their favorite poet and why in their journal. Next, have pairs of students do a read aloud of a Negritude poem of their choice Instruct pairs to each prepare a writing prompt that they will ask their partner to respond to after the read aloud. Have students write their response to prompt in their journal.
Assessment: The writing prompt should show interpretive knowledge of the poem; the journal entries should show reflective understanding of the themes of Negritude movement and of its purpose.

Teacher and Student Resources
Langston Hughes Symposium

ReadwriteThink: Lesson Plan: A Harlem Renaissance Retrospective: Connecting Art, Music, Dance, and Poetry

Article: Sculpting a Pan-African culture in the art of Negritude: a model for African Artist.

Pan Africanism and Pedagogy by Manthia Diawara

Arts-Africa-Pan-Africanism, Negritude, Decolonization, and the Search For A New Identity

The Story of Africa: BBC World Services

Pan-African Perspective—Liberate our future

IBWCA—African American History and Culture Curriculum Infusion Model

George Padmore Collection 1933-1945: Finding Aid

Columbia University Library-African Studies: African History & Cultures

Kwame Nkrumah

Kwame Nkrumah Pan-African Cultural Center

Schomburg Center of Research in Black Culture

African Union

Center for Africana Studies


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