Small Screen Meets Black Teen: Investigating Locations in African American Television

The NEH Digital Projects for the Public Discovery Grant will allow Rutgers University to launch research for an online project that will give high school students a new and engaging way to learn about African American history and geography. This website will show maps of the United States with plotted points for cities that are the main setting for long-running African American television shows airing between 1970 and 2020 that viewers can easily navigate as well as scholarly articles based around the themes of how class struggle, racism, and black history are represented and taught on television. The prime target for this project is for each tv show and location included to have specific articles dedicated to any episode where the characters travelled to an American Landmark, different American state, or back in time to a point in African American History. These articles will explain what happened in the episode and how accurate the place the character travelled to was depicted. Then their will be a monthly release of new articles that will analyze specific scenes in the show to develop the themes of the project more.

To develop this project, the SSMBT project team would like to bring scholars who specialize in television studies and cultural representation and high school teachers together to discuss this topic. This project team will confirm the parameters of the television shows that will be chose to analyze, watch and report on television shows monthly and begin discussing the outline of the website and how to best present the research found. By dividing the amount of material for each television show this group will be able to analyze long running African American shows in one month and discuss the most significant scenes. This grant will help begin the discussion of content, creation of a more efficient prototype and testing of the effectiveness of the website in a classroom setting.

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