MAPPING YOUTH EMPOWERMENT WITH 200 BLACK TRAVEL MEMOIRS
A RESOURCE GUIDE FOR TEACHERS AND MENTORS
The SWAG DIPLOMACY Viewshare website maps locations of 200 African American autobiographers who wrote international travel memoirs. This resource is created as curriculum for teachers, researchers and mentors to enhance youth empowerment. S.W.A.G. stands for "start with a guide" because, according to Charles Green's Manufacturing Powerlessness in the Black Diaspora, youth around the world have articulated that the one thing they need most is guidance. Accordingly, guidance is a core goal of most mentoring programs. Diplomacy represents global competency, which youth also need, particularly as technology makes the world smaller and more interconnected.
In Swag Diplomacy, I define youth empowerment as
guidance for global competence.
CAU Du Bois Seminar
By viewing the searchable, expandable map, students can identify authors who wrote in autobiographies about visiting various countries. Users can search by traveler, location, or even year. In addition to location, links are provided to online biographies from African American Registry, Black Past, Wikipedia, and the History Channel's Bio.com. Order information for autobiographies and links to a picture are also provided.
The Library of Congress created mapping software (Viewshare), which provides an ideal platform to create visual journeys of each of the 200 authors. The result is an online, interactive map with almost 900 individual plot points which can easily jumpstart youths’ interest and understanding of geography. With travelers including Ida B. Wells and Henry 'Box' Brown, Billie Holiday and Richard Pryor, Mae Jemison and President Obama, the journey will be fascinating for all ages.
For instance, a search for “Du Bois” will yield a site map of 16 international locations that Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois visited, including Germany (1892-94), Canada (1905), England (1900, 1911, 1921, 1945), France (1919, 1921, 1949), Liberia (1923), Haiti and Cuba (1944), Russia (1926, 1949, 1958-59), Europe (1958-59), China (1959), and Ghana (1961). By clicking on a location, additional information will pop up, including the places and dates he visited. By switching from 'traveler' to 'country' researchers can click on Australia to see the 22 visitors who wrote about their stay: Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe, B.B. King, Ben Carson, Bill Russell, Cornel West, Count Basie, Dick Gregory, Duke Ellington, Florynce Kennedy, Jack Johnson, Jeff Commings, Jesse Owens, John Hope Franklin, Katherine Dunham, Major Taylor, Miles Davis, Paul Robeson, Ray Charles, Sammy Davis Jr., Tina Turner and Wilma Rudolf.
The Swag Diplomacy website and book are constructed explicitly as tools to enhance schooling and mentoring. The project is an outgrowth of Dr. Evans teaching a Mentoring "At-Risk" Youth class for over 10 years and partnering with many agencies since 2001: Big Brothers/Big Sisters (Amhesrt and Gainesville), Boys and Girls Clubs (Gainesville), The Reichert House (Gainesville), PACE Center (Gainesville), The Men's Resource Center (Amherst), Savuka After School Program (Amherst), Brown University's Swearer Center for Public Service (Providence) and high schools or middle schools in Massachusetts and Florida. This work has continued in Atlanta, starting with a presentation to the Dorothy Height Academy at Benjamin Mays High School. The book (forthcoming 2013) outlines skills for life, school, and work and highlights Black autobiography as rich learning material that can be used to meet national and Georgia State Standards in high school history, geography, vocabulary and writing (poetry).
This resource will also be useful to advanced researchers, particularly those interested in comparative case studies of Black travelers. The SWAG ViewShare website tracks entertainers, politicians, missionaries, seekers on religious pilgrimages, emigrants escaping enslavement, adventurers, athletes, educators, military personnel, and study abroad students.
Development of this project has benefited by presentation and discussion at the following gatherings: Columbia University, Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women Conference (April 2011); Harvard University, Think Tank on Global Education, (May 2011), CAU classes Black Autobiography (Spring 2012) and Seminar in Select African Americans (Fall 2012), CAU W. E. B. Du Bois Major Works Seminar "Autobiography" (July 2012) and at the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, ASALH Annual Convention (September 2012).
Swag Diplomacy was made possible by research funding from the University of Florida CLAS Colonel Allan R. and Margaret G. Crow Professor award, 2010–11. Sharon Burney, Moya Bailey, Whitney Peoples, and Yvonne Nash offered vital assistance. The website was created in partnership with Emory University Digital Scholarship Commons (DiSC), Clark Atlanta University's School of Education, and the CAU Center for Excellence in Faculty Development.
Many thanks to those who have offered insight during the years it has taken to develop this project and to those who will help it grow in the future.
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