Educating the Afro-Caribbean Diaspora
Throughout the history of the Caribbean, South, Central, and North America, traditional histories have emphasized the European contribution to these cultures with very few if any mention of the contributions made by the descendents of the conquered native population or those of the vast number of African slaves brought to these shores. However, it is often the endowment of these disfranchised peoples, especially those of the African Diaspora that we see and hear when we encounter the rich cultures of these regions. To correct this dichotomy, Martha M. Vega PhD, founded The Franklin H. Williams Caribbean Cultural Center/African Diaspora Institute
This organization gives voice to the diverse and often unrecognized cultural and artistic expressions of the peoples of the African Diaspora. The Center’s mission is to address community issues, foster emerging artists, and gain popular acceptance and interest for the arts and the diverse cultures of the African Diaspora. It is the only cultural arts organization of its kind in the United States, and it is essential in a society where immigration from the Caribbean and Latin America constantly introduces people into unfamiliar environments and already packed communities. Many long term residents of these communities feel hostile toward these new immigrants who look like the main group but who act so differently. One of the Caribbean Cultural Center’s main goals is to encourage acceptance and appreciation of this cultural diversity.
In order to accomplish its goal, the Caribbean Cultural Center developed an Arts in Education Program in 1976. The Arts in Education Program is conducted in both private and public schools. It follows New York State’s standards for art education and is designed to serve educators who are looking for ways to capture and hold the attention of their multi-cultural student body, many of whom are minorities and immigrants from the Caribbean and Latin American.
The programs are easily incorporated into the different segments of the standard elementary or high school curriculum. The center’s educators are professional teaching writers, painters, musicians, actors, and dancers, who have all taught cultural arts for five or more years. They create curriculum that draws not only on their own cultural experiences but on the resources of the Caribbean Cultural Center. Before implementing a program in a school, the center’s staff meets with the school’s teachers, parents, or community organizations. This meeting is designed to determine the school’s ethnic and cultural composition and the students’ interests. The center’s teachers then tailor an education program that will fit with the school’s requirements.
The Caribbean Cultural Center plays a vital role in the community among the English, Spanish, and French speaking countries of the West Indies. Not only does its education program serve to instruct our young in their traditions, but it is constantly showcasing the richness and diversity of Caribbean culture by following the common themes that permeate all our societies.
The Center is open to individuals as well as community or school groups. All that is required is to make an appointment. I have included the Center’s contact information at the end of this article.
The websites following the information on the Center are databases offering links to sites on the African Diaspora and its cultures in the Caribbean and Latin America.
Director, Division of Education
Caribbean Cultural Center
408 West 58 St.
New York, NY 10019
Tel: 212-307-7420 ext 3010
Phone: 212 307-7420 ext. 3010
LATIN AMERICA NETWORK INFORMATION CENTER
This is a list of links on Latin American and Caribbean countries
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY’S AFRICAN DIASPORA LINKS
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