Eric Solorio Academy High School
The Harlem Renaissance was an intellectual, social, and artistic explosion that took place in Harlem, New York, spanning the 1920s. African-Americans had endured centuries of slavery and the struggle for abolition, but their emancipation did not bring the freedom many had envisioned.
In 1916, African-Americans began fleeing the South in great numbers in search of a better life. Through the Great Migration, many discovered they had shared common experiences in their histories and their present circumstances. The realization ignited an explosion of cultural pride.
Laura Kroncke teaches about the Harlem Renaissance in her history classes at AUSL – Eric Solorio Academy High School on the city’s Southwest side. “I knew that visiting Harlem, actually seeing the sights, talking with local residents, and immersing myself in the history, would enable me to bring a deeper knowledge and valuable insights to my classroom,” she explained.
Ms. Kroncke designed and applied for a Fund for Teachers Fellowship, and after being awarded the grant, spent eight days in New York this past summer.
“As a result of this fellowship, I have a new understanding of Harlem and the Harlem Renaissance that cannot be have ascertained from simply reading literature about the neighborhood, and I have a greater sense of how to draw inspiration from people and organizations,” said Ms. Kroncke. “I sought out people, places, and resources that could help me better understand the Harlem neighborhood, and with this knowledge – and truly through the overall journey – I am enhancing the classroom experience.”
Ms. Kroncke has gained a new appreciation for the importance of primary and secondary sources. While visiting the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, she handled materials used by some of the Harlem Renaissance’s most notable figures.
Upon her return, she has been incorporating artifacts and other primary sources into her lessons to educate students and help them make connections to this important historical movement. This spring, Ms. Kroncke’s students will create an oral history project that requires them to brainstorm a topic, formulate interview questions, conduct interviews, and create a final project. Because the oral history project will be assigned following units on immigration and the Great Migration, she expects many students will focus on their own family’s stories of immigration and migration.
“My experiences in Harlem have changed the way I think about history, and that is having a direct impact on how I teach and the content I am teaching,” Ms. Kroncke explained.