K-12 Inclusive Curriculum

Creating an Inclusive K-12 Curriculum for Engaged Citizenship

Speaker: Dr Lillie Edwards

February 24, 2021

7:00 PM

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About our speaker: Dr Lillie Johnson Edwards is Professor Emerita of History and African-American studies at Drew University where she served for twenty-three years, including her role as the founding Director of Pan-African Studies and Director of American Studies. She has worked as a consultant for the development of K-12 history curriculum and teacher training. She served as a gubernatorial appointee and charter member of the New Jersey Amistad Commission and co-chair of its curriculum committee from 2002-2020. She is also a lecturer at the Adult School of Montclair.

Events surrounding the 2020 elections reveal the worrisome rise of anti-democratic forces fueled by misinformation and misplaced grievances. Now more than ever, young people must be taught how to be engaged citizens. Engaged citizenship requires understanding American history, institutions, and cultures, and informed participation in the democratic processes that continue to shape our republic into a “more perfect union.”

Forming a “more perfect union” was, and remains, the responsibility and work of imperfect people: all of us. Infusing marginalized stories--African American, gender, Native American, LGBTQ+, Latinx, and ethnic history--into the K-12 curriculum teaches our students that everyone on the national stage has played a role in shaping the nation. American history and citizenship engage multiple, often competing, narratives and perspectives. The nation’s multiple voices form the foundation of engaged citizenship because they reveal how much the complexity and fragility of our democratic republic requires the vigilance and hard work of seeking knowledge and vetting information; formulating strategies; and making decisions for the common good.

Dr Lillie Edwards will speak about the New Jersey Amistad legislation that seeks to redress the specific omission of people of African descent from the American story and our schools’ K-12 curriculum. This presentation will clarify what the Amistad legislation is and is not; what it asks of school boards, administrators, and teachers; and how an inclusive curriculum, infused with African American experiences, perspectives, and voices, models and teaches engaged citizenship.