Art for the Common Good—Junkanoo!
What does it mean to be a member of a community?
Photo credit: Junkanoo by Errol Bodie is licensed under CC by 2.0
Participants learn about the Bahamian Festival, Junkanoo, and examine the way groups work together and preserve culture through the arts, especially when minority rights need to be protected. They present a parade to celebrate culture.
Junkanoo is a Bahamian Festival that takes place in December. The festival was started by slaves who were restoring some of their native customs that they left behind in Africa. Junkanoo is a nice example of artistic expression communicating aspects of a culture. This lesson introduces the historical, geographic, and social aspects of Junkanoo. It also deals with the concepts of group cooperation and factions.
In this lesson, groups work together to make their headdresses based on a common design. Each person makes their own headdress that fits the group theme but has their own style or cultural uniqueness. The groups compete against each other, so the group benefits from working together internally with a strong unifying theme. Participants reflect on the idea of factions forming in a community, like a classroom.
The groups wear their headdresses and perform a Junkanoo-like parade first internally and then to entertain a group that needs cheering or to teach about cooperation and respect for cultural expressions.