Ethnomusicology In Action
The Ethnomusicology In Action Curriculum Project (EACP) offers interdisciplinary music education curricula that empowers African – American children by teaching them in - depth knowledge about their authentic culture and history using African – American traditional music. The term traditional is defined as the historical and classical music of African – Americans that spans from the time of slavery (1616) to the present. Genres include spirituals, work songs, congregational songs, blues, gospel, jazz, civil rights freedom songs and other forms. Included in this scope are musical forms from the African continent and the African Diaspora. In keeping with this focus, the EACP logo includes a photo of an African-American ‘fife and drum’ ensemble in Mississippi. These cane flutes are derivatives of West African bamboo flutes, and express a direct cultural connection between African-Americans and Africa.
Ethnomusicology In Action initiated this project because there is a deficit, and even a systematic resistance, in the education of Black American children in this specific area. This learning gap is multigenerational, resulting in broad swaths of African – Americans who lack knowledge and historical grounding in their own culture, save for the many who self-educate. Through a Fulbright fellowship, Cunningham researched how schools in Botswana teach their students national identity using traditional music. EACP has adapted these cultural education strategies used in Botswana towards the goal of teaching African – American students in the United States their national identity as citizens of African descent to affirm their African heritage. The project also works to build trans-national bridges between Black American children and other children of the African Diaspora by teaching each groups cultural celebrations, songs, rhythms and common African retentions. We believe that a culturally relevant and responsive education is a civil right. To deny this right to African – American children falls under the umbrella of racial discrimination.
Individual curriculum and a digital subscription service will soon be available to school districts, schools and individual educators.