About Decolonizing Representations through the Curriculum

Saturday 28 August 2021 • 9:30 am - 5:30 pm
@ Matheson History Museum

Evoking the Complexity of Black Lives in Florida with a lens of Afrofuturism

Come participate in a set of free workshops designed to build a collaborative partnership between university researchers, artists, and Alachua county school teachers where you will learn how to design arts-integrated lesson plans for K-12 and undergraduate curricula about the complexity of Black lives in Florida with a lens of Afrofuturism. Alachua County teachers will gain professional development credit.

The sessions will include one in-person, two zoom follow-ups, and an exhibition at the Harn Museum of Art.

About the workshop


Dynamic and evolving, Afrofuturism as theory and practice can and will continue to grow. It describes both a mode of knowledge production and corresponding practice that seeks to set a new inclusive standard for understanding society. The turn toward counter storytelling in the local context is a vital next step in Afrofuturist practice. The proposed series will make connections across time, space, local, and global to consider how and why our knowledge production can change to embrace speculation on the road to liberation.

Background and Importance

The North Central region of Florida has a deep connection to Black history (and people of non-European ancestry) that is often left at the margins of school curricula or ignored completely. As Marvin Dunn notes in his book A History of Florida: Through Black Eyes, “people of African  descent have been major players in almost every significant event in the history of Florida from the arrival  of the conquistadors to the launch of the space shuttle…[and yet] [g]enerations of African Americans in  Florida [and most other Americans] have been denied our history. That is an intellectual crime.”[1] If colonial thought represents those Americans worth representing as white, European and male, then decolonizing the curriculum means that the representations not only include people of color and women but include them in ways that highlight their achievements and not only their oppression; it also means that the classroom experience goes beyond the written word.


[1] Marvin Dunn, A History of Florida: Through Black Eyes (North Charleston, SC: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016), x-xii.

Curriculum Content

The content for the workshops includes 1) the research that the UF Racial Equity project team are producing along with the Working Group, the Presidential Task Force on Racial/Ethnic History, and Jon Sensbach’s on slavery and the contemporary implications for racial equity in higher institutions of education; 2) Paul Ortiz’ research on the 1920 Ocoee Massacre; 3) Cynthia Wilson-Graham’s work on Paradise Park (the Blacks only beach during segregation); and 4) Julian Chambliss model of Afrofuturism.  The form of the workshops will be an experiential, arts-integrated, community-building form that Amanda Concha-Holmes with her I.R.I.E. Center~Innovative Research and Intercultural Education has been developing through a workshop series called Decolonizing Representations: Past, Present and Future. By incorporating the four main themes, teachers will be exposed to issues of African history, African American history and experiences (1500 – 1800s), Black joy and achievements during and despite segregation in the Jim Crow south, and interpretations of an Africentric Future in curriculum, community and life. The content and curricula activities we collaboratively generate will be publicly accessible on the website including the photographs, video and art projects.

Arts-integrated Curriculum

Importantly, not only will we bring a social justice lens to the content, we will also decolonize the pedagogical form so that teachers experience and learn how to translate Black history into all of their subject matter and integrate the arts to accomplish this interdisciplinary shift. Arts-integrated teaching is the process of teaching “with and through the arts,” and is gaining momentum throughout the United States. Importantly, arts integration is a way of using art to foster knowledge, skills, and experiences from a non-art domain, which helps students make connections between the different disciplines. A common thread between all arts-integration methods is the idea that non-art subjects (e.g., social studies, math, science, history) can be addressed in part through visual and performing art activities. Based on longitudinal studies by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), there is a significant relationship between arts education and academic achievement; this is especially true for students in low-income communities.

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