The literary works of Ralph Ellison have been monumental in fostering dialogue about race and identity within the American experience. Although Mr. Ellison skillfully chronicled African-American experience in his seminal literary work Invisible Man over sixty years ago, the questions raised in his novel about American race relations still seek full disclosure in 21st century America.
Flying Home and Other Stories, a collection of Ellison’s short fiction published after the author’s passing in 1994, explores such questions further. For us, these thirteen stories’ considerations of race and identity, community and humanity, and justice and equality have become focal points for a curriculum that has not only dialogue as its goal, but the kind of empowerment and action that can lead students to racial reconciliation and personal transformation beyond the classroom.
With our “Flying Home” curriculum, 9th-12th grade students and teachers will engage with Ellison’s stories and their linked themes of racial conflict, troubled identity, assimilation, rebellion, loss and grief, the yearning to belong, fulfillment found through adversity, and the struggle for social justice. Via our curriculum’s vertical alignment of literature, humanities, and history standards, students will be equipped to compare present-day culture and events to those represented in Ellison’s works and understand them critically.
Teachers will be given the necessary tools and resources to facilitate a learning environment that encourages students to analyze, critique, synthesize, and reflect. By including other literary excerpts, documentary film clips, classroom activities, instructional strategies, and historical documents, this curriculum will challenge both instructors and students alike to expand their traditional sense of learning and become creative and confident readers and thinkers.
Dr. R.P. Ashanti-Alexander has been a public school educator for thirty-nine years, serving as classroom teacher, counselor, and administrator. A native Oklahoman, he obtained degrees from University of Central Oklahoma (B.A. 1972; M.Ed. 1979), the University of Nebraska (M.S. 1985), and the University of Oklahoma (Ed.D 1995). He is presently an Assistant Principal at Chickasha Middle School, the President of the Chickasha Tri-County branch of the NAACP, and has been an ordained minister in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church for over forty years
LaTasha S. Timberlake is an educational consultant, curriculum and program developer, instructor, and transformational leadership coach. She is currently a teacher and Leader Effectiveness Coordinator for the Oklahoma City public school system. An Oklahoma native and fourth generation educator, Ms. Timberlake has worked with a renowned list of scholars, traveling internationally to incorporate diverse learning and teaching styles within her professional development workshops for teachers, parents, and students.