From Timbuktu to Timbuctoo: A Workshop for Teachers

January 30, 2017 – 9:00am-12:00pm

Timbuktu, Mali: A famous center of Islamic learning from the 13th to the 17th century.

Timbuctoo, New Jersey: A village founded in 1826 by free African Americans and runaways.

Between Timbuktu and Timbuctoo: centuries of slave trade and slavery, and resistance to both. The West African empires of Mali and Songhai, including the city of Timbuktu, form a part of New York State’s core curriculum “World History” and “Geography” (units 2 and 3) and New York City’s core curriculum in “Global History and Geography” (units 5 and 6) as do the Transatlantic Slave Trade, rebellions and resistance.

In this workshop, teachers of social studies will learn about:

Timbuktu: The goal of this workshop is to excite an interest in the kingdoms of Mali and Songhai, to present core concepts for understanding them and to engage teachers with relevant visual and written primary documents so they can enrich their classrooms.

This session begins with core concepts in both content and pedagogy. We will then view, read and discuss classroom-ready visual and print primary sources. Teachers will also discover the connections between these empires and the European Middle Ages and Renaissance and the Middle East. The teachers will receive handouts of primary documents, bibliography for classroom learning, including videos and web links for outstanding teaching materials.

Session led by Dr. Barbara Brown, Director of the public education program at Boston University’s African Studies Center.

Resistance: This session will explore the little known West Africans’ strategies against the slave trade, complicating the interpretation of Africans as either victims or accomplices of the slave trade. We will then examine the various modes of resistance of the enslaved communities in America: including runaways’ journeys to Southern cities, forests and swamps and to the North. An overview of revolts, from Hispaniola in 1522 to Nat Turner in 1831, will conclude the session. Teachers will receive books, handouts of relevant texts, and web links to digital exhibitions, lesson plans, and primary documents.

Session led by Dr. Sylviane A. Diouf, Director of the Lapidus Center.

Africa in the Americas: Evidence of Africa in the Americas is often hidden in plain sight, available but undiscovered. This session will introduce teachers to the Discover Africa in the Americas website which maps Africa related sites in local communities. We will focus on U.S. sites related to Timbuktu and early Muslims in the U.S. Teachers will engage in hands-on-activities designed for classroom use and receive handouts related to the web site and lessons.

Session led by Brenda Randolph, Outreach Director at the Center for African Studies at Howard University.


Please Note: Attendance is limited to 35. Priority will be given to Social Studies teachers of relevant grades. Additionally, there are two parts to the registration process.

To Complete Registration: 

  1. Register through Eventbrite.
  2. Submit a letter/email from your school supervisor (Principal, AP, etc.) to stating the grades you teach and that you have permission to attend. Upon receipt of the letter your participation will be confirmed.