History Alive: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants Education and Performance Program


The mission of the History Alive program is “to love and nurture youth helping them reach their full God-given potential.” We accomplish this mission in the context of a caring, affirming, and supportive environments. The purpose of the program is to communicate the history of African Americans in Washtenaw County by empowering youth to reenact it through the Arts. Area youth working with ATAMI adult volunteers interview and research the histories of two to three local African American history makers (“giants”). They translate the history into artistic interpretations, for youth to dramatize and present to the community. These efforts educate youth about African American history, while providing training in drama, reader’s theater, music and dance. In addition, the program stimulates character development and promotes literacy skills in participants. Community members will learn about significant historical contributions of African Americans makers celebrated during the program.

ATAMI History Alive 2015 Girls singing with mics

The program is geared toward youth in 5th through 12th grades. Sessions are conducted every Saturday from 1:00-4:30 pm at New Christian Love Fellowship International, 1601 Stamford Road, Ypsilanti, MI 48198. Click here to register your child(ren). For more information call 734-961-8310 or email info@umich.edu.Love Circle2015

Arts Education:  Youth will receive training in acting, reader’s theater, dance, instrumental and vocal music in small groups based on their interest and ability. Some will learn the use of technology for performance and program publicity. For example, participants trained in videography will create a video journal of the program and present an edited version for presentation at the final performance. All students are encouraged to use social media (Twitter, Instagram) to communicate their reflections about the experience.


History Lessons:  In small groups, participants learn about events from the histories of two African Americans from Washtenaw County, Michigan.  Participants then interpret these events either through dance, drama, song, or reader’s theater. Instructors are paired with youth participants to develop scripts, choreography and songs. Youth are encouraged to add their own creativity to the production. The giants visit the program, share their stories and field questions from the youth.

Character Development:  Each of the sessions includes an interactive character development exercise that teaches participants to positively interact with and care for each other. Character traits like peace, patience, kindness, forgiveness, trust, self-discipline, dependability, respectfulness, team building, and integrity. When these traits are practiced by students and instructors the educational experience is enhanced and facilitates effective class management. Our 3 year outcomes confirm the effectiveness of character development sessions. Students firm strong bonds and have had very few negative interactions among our students. When conflicts arise, students have used peaceable resolutions.

Leadership Development & “Finishing” Classes
Youth learn leadership development skills such as emotional intelligence, personality types, spiritual gifts, talent assessment, etc. In the historic music company, Motown, every artist had to go through finishing school to learn to present themselves intelligently in public, maintaining the Motown high levels of discipline and professionalism. Likewise, History Alive students engage in finishing classes where they learn etiquette, appropriate dress for various settings, grooming, etc.

Project Leadership: Leadership of the History Alive Project represents volunteers and artists who reflect several generations, from Boomers to Millennials, even the youth participants are encouraged to create and contribute to the production.  Young leaders include board members, site administrators, artists and production teams/trainers for equipment, social media and performance.