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Teaching Multicultural Literature : A Workshop for the Middle Grades
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Workshop 6: Historical and Cultural Context - Langston Hughes and Christopher Moore
Overview
Authors and Literary Works
Langston Hughes
Biography
Work
Christopher Moore
Biography
Work
Interview
Joyce Hansen/ Gary McGowan
Biography
Work
Barbara Chase-Riboud
Biography
Work
Key References
Video Summary
Teaching Strategies
Commentary
Student Work
Resources
Interactive Workbook -- Explore two poems using strategies from these workshops. Go.
Channel-Talk -- Share your views on the discussion board. Go.


Authors and Literary Works
Biography

Historian, writer, and educator, Christopher Moore is the writer of the documentary film The African Burial Ground: An American Discovery, which chronicles the rediscovery of a major repository of African American and New York history that had been forgotten for centuries.

The modern part of the story began in 1991, when the African Burial Ground was uncovered during the construction of a federal building in Lower Manhattan. The film first shows the archaeologists as they painstakingly record their findings at the site in preparation for scientific analysis at a laboratory, and then documents the crucial role of Africans (20 percent of the population) in the New Amsterdam/New York colony.

Christopher Moore's path to this film project began when he got a call from his mother asking if any of their family was buried in this ground. (He believes they were, but has not yet found any evidence.) Years before, Moore had traced the family back to an African ancestor who had arrived in the 1620s, a Dutch captain who came to New Amsterdam in the 1640s, and also to the Lenape Native Americans. "Africans had helped to build New York, which was something that was totally missing from New York history books. They were the ones who cleared the land for the town of New Amsterdam ... they cleared the fields for the farms. And they didn't do it just on Manhattan Island, they did this literally from Albany to Argentina."


Moore says the unearthing of the burial ground gave him "a passion," but then he had to do much more research and gather experts -- historians, sociologists, archaeologists, and scientists -- to develop the story for the documentary. One thing that particularly struck him from the excavation was that "of the 419 remains that were excavated, over 40 percent were children under 12... The aspect of seeing children as slaves helps ... us in our generation and our contemporary society understand what slavery really was."

Christopher Moore is curator and research historian for the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. A former editor for ABC Radio News and National Black Network News, he was the writer and producer of the History Channel's award-winning television special, The African Burial Ground: An American Discovery. He is the author of Fighting for America: Black Soldiers, The Unsung Heroes of World War II and coauthor of The Black New Yorkers: 400 Years of African American History. Moore was creator and coauthor of Santa and Pete: A Novel of Christmas Present and Past, a story about the Afro-Dutch Christmas traditions in New Amsterdam.

He is a member of New York City's Landmarks Preservation Committee. He sees architecture as "much more than bricks and mortar, or metal and glass. They are the vessels and monuments which contain the memory of personal experience."

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