Nelva Williamson

I used Dr. Smith’s book How The Word Is Passed as a starting point for my AP African American Studies class. The students who enrolled in the class in the spring were asked to read the book as a starting place for our study in the fall. I told them they could read any chapter and be prepared to share their perspective on the chapter with their classmates when the semester began.

That book allowed my students to see African American history, spaces, and places through a lens very different from any textbook. By the way, we didn’t have a textbook to use so I did require the students to read various chapters during the year as a way to focus our study.

I used the discussion questions as a way to focus our scholarly discussions. The discussion questions allowed the students to really engage with the text. I added additional questions that I used to tie the book into the AP topics.

The chapter on Gorée Island resonated with the students, especially when I shared my experience at Cape Coast Castle in Ghana. After reading and discussing the chapter on the Whitney Plantation a student and her family visited the site while they were traveling through Louisiana. She told me reading the chapter and then visiting the plantation made a profound impact on how she viewed the site.