Elementary or middle school art classes.
Redesign a deck of playing cards on African or African American themes.
Discuss with students the medieval European history of ordinary playing cards. Divide them into groups to replace the joker, ace, king, queen, jack, spade, heart, diamond, club, and numbers with African motifs found on Maasai, Egyptian, Zulu, Berber, Moorish, Yoruba, or Ethiopian pottery, screens, jewelry, architecture, artifacts, face painting, body tattoos, headdresses, and costumes. Select a special group to redesign the card backs for the entire pack. Suggest a map, musical instrument, profile, or flag as a unifying motif. Use the colors of Africa: red, green, yellow, black, and white.
Beckvermit, John J., African Art Playing Card Deck, 3rd edition, U.S. Games, 1995.
Dacey, Donna, "Crafts of Many Cultures: Three Seasonal Art Projects with Global Appeal," Instructor, November-December 1991, 30-33.
Mabunda, L. Mpho, ed., The African American Almanac, 7th edition, Gale, 1997.
Müller, Claudia, The Costume Timeline: 5000 Years of Fashion History, Thames and Hudson, 1993.
Sanders, Marlita, "Dollmaking: The Celebration of a Culture," School Arts, January 1992, 27.
Have students extend the project to redesign these and other cultural symbols arising from sources other than Africa:
Stress important moments in black history, such as the arrival of the first slave ship to New World shores, first Juneteenth celebration, Emancipation Proclamation, or creation of the Freedman's Bureau.