The Weekly Text, 3 June 2022: Summer of Soul Lesson 1

During the month of June Mark’s Text Terminal will offer a four-lesson unit on Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s 2021, Oscar-winning documentary, Summer of Soul. As you probably know, this film compellingly documents, using the long-lost footage the late Hal Tulchin shot, of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival held in Mount Morris Park, now known as Marcus Garvey Park.

Without further ado, and in keeping with the general practice at Mark’s Text Terminal of keeping the documents up front (ahead of my bloviation, that is) in posts, here is the first lesson plan of the Summer of Soul unit. I open this lesson with this Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Black Arts Movement, which I think is particularly salient to both this lesson and this unit. Here is a worksheet to guide research into the principals–spread across 50 years–involved in the production of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival and the long overdue documentary on it, Summer of Soul. Finally, here is the poster or handbill (or both) from the event itself.

Now, if you would like to develop this unit further (there is plenty of room for that, it seems to me, particularly if your students are interested), here is the unit plan. To write additional lessons, should you want it, here is the lesson plan template. If you write further lessons for this unit, and want to create materials using the format in these documents, here is the worksheet template.

Finally, here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the A.M.E. Church (i.e. the African Methodist Episcopal Church) that I stacked in the planning materials folder for future use. One direction this unit might go further with, or serve as a jumping-off point for another unit, say, on the Black Church, using Henry Louis Gates’ recent series on the subject to explore the connection between the Black Church and the Civil Rights Movement. There was a a gospel day at the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival–including, movingly, Mahalia Jackson and Mavis Staples sharing a microphone–and the film performs a badly needed service in making the connection not only between the Black Church and the Civil Rights Movement explicit, but also the connection between the Black Church and soul music. I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I listen to some old O’Jays records, it sounds like the men in the group left their church choir rehearsal and went straight to Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s recording studio. “Love Train,” in fact, is arguably a gospel song.

OK: more (perhaps considerably more) said than necessary. If this material interests you, stay tuned for the next three Fridays at Mark’s Text Terminal to collect the next three lessons.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

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