In partnership with Mt. Zion-FUBS Historic Memorial Park, Inc., Eagle Eye Tutoring was honored to present to New Jersey educators and administrators who participated in the Amistad Commission’s virtual professional development course: The American Paradox: An Analysis of Special Topics for NJ Schools on the Legacies of Structural Racism, Systemic Disparities, Self-Government, Enslavement, Native Dispossession, Democracy, Civil Liberties and Civic Engagement throughout our American Narrative in the Classroom. The Amistad Commission “ensures that the Department of Education and public schools of New Jersey implement materials and texts which integrate the history and contributions of African-Americans and the descendants of the African Diaspora.”
During our presentation, we discussed Eagle Eye Tutoring’s inaugural Headstones and History course. We shared how we paid respect to those long gone and some forgotten by giving them a name and learning their stories. Some 8000 African Americans from Georgetown and the surrounding region were buried in the Mount Zion Cemetery from the early 19th to the mid 20th century. Those interred show the economic diversity of the community. We explained how we used their names and dates of death to explore genealogical data and primary documents like the Registry of Free Negroes and learned about their lives and celebrated them.
No one has conducted this critical research from this perspective, and it was exciting to share our program with the Amistad Commission. We hope we inspired educators and students to discover and make history at the same time: they can be Citizen Historians, participating in ambitious and exhilarating crowdsourced research.
Our next session of Headstones and History begins in October. Our class will begin with a site visit to the Mt. Zion – Female Union Band Cemetery, a Site of Memory associated with the UNESCO Slave Route Project and listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Using just the names and dates from the very fragile tombstones and surviving burial records, students will reconstruct the lives of three individuals. Each week, we will visit historic sites such as alley dwellings, churches, schools and local businesses, as well as former slave markets and pens, to gain an understanding of the larger community in which Black Georgetowners lived.