Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Stories As History - Black History Month

February is Black History Month. This year marks the 175 anniversary of the Act to Abolish Slavery in the British Empire (1833-2008). Now right off you begin to wonder about the connection with stories and storytelling. One way we learn about storytelling as with so many other things we do is by watching, listening and appreciating others. To get an ear full of what storytelling can do you could listen to James Earl Jones and his partner Virginia Hamilton. Together they have brought history to thousands of students and adults. I am one of those adults.

Northwestern Ontario in 1991 was the setting for embracing the power of stories. Cold, snow and below zero temperatures encouraged sitting comfortably curled up in a winged chair or floor cushion and reading.

I read the book The People Could Fly
for the first time. Soon I found myself listening to this story on CD and quickly after that giving high school children the opportunity to witness, as a future observer, past events.

No, we can't know what it was like, and no we cannot ignore the experience. But by sharing the telling, we can gain insights into another space and another time.

Check out Canadian Heritage on Black History Month

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