Alexandria’s African-American History

In their United States history course, students wanted to tell the stories of Alexandria’s African American history so that ACPS teachers and fellow students would be able to learn an often ignored part of our local history. They chose to make short videos and worked hard in researching, writing, editing, and creating. This group implemented skills with support from both our school librarian and technology integration specialist (TIS), as well as resources sent along by the Office of Historic Alexandria. Students developed not just an important project, but also historical thinking and 5Cs skills.

Teacher: Christine Wilson

Students: Students at T.C. Williams High School taking US/Virginia History

Driving Question: What should our teachers and fellow students know about Alexandria’s African American History?

Standards of Learning:

VUS.1 The student will demonstrate skills for historical thinking, geographical analysis, economic decision making, and responsible citizenship.
(See full content standards below videos). 

The 5Cs:

Citizenship: Students chose a problem in their community and wanted to help solve it.

Creative Thinking: They wanted to complete their project in a creative way; through using the WeVideo program and making short, informational videos.

Communication: Each group had to think about the best way to present and share their information. They chose videos and, within that, how to give an overview of a time period in a clear and flowing manner.

Collaboration: The groups were put together in the beginning of a virtual year. There was little time for getting to know each other in the classroom. They had to work with new people from behind a screen, divvy up roles, figure out who has which job when responsibilities shift, and hold each other accountable.

Critical Thinking: While researching, students prioritized which stories they wanted to share. History is a large and overwhelming environment! Students narrowed down what they needed and put into their own words.

Student-Created Videos about Alexandria’s African American History:

Colonial Era through Civil War:

Civil Rights Era:

Virginia/U.S. History Standards:

Students will apply history and social science skills to understand:

VUS.3 Early European colonization by explaining the impact of the development of indentured servitude and slavery in the  colonies (.c)

VUS.6 Major events in Virginia and United States history during the first half of the nineteenth century by e)   evaluating the cultural, economic, and political issues that divided the nation, including tariffs, slavery, the abolitionist and women’s suffrage movements, and the role of the states in the Union (.e)

VUS.7 The Civil War and Reconstruction eras and their significance as major turning points in American history by evaluating and explaining the impact of the war on Americans, with emphasis on Virginians, African Americans, the common soldier, and the home front (.c)

VUS.8 How the nation grew and changed from the end of Reconstruction through the early twentieth century by analyzing the impact of prejudice and discrimination, including “Jim Crow” laws (.d)

VUS.13 The social, political, and cultural movements and changes in the United States during the second half of the twentieth century by   evaluating and explaining the impact of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, the roles of Thurgood Marshall and Oliver W. Hill, Sr., and how Virginia responded to the decision (.b)