Activity time: 20 minutes
Materials for Activity
- A copy of the story "The Migration Series - Panel no. 3." You can also purchase a print of the image from the Phillips Collection online museum store for $5.00.
- Leader Resource 4, Jacob Lawrence and the Great Migration
- Newsprint and markers
Preparation for Activity
- Read Leader Resource 4, Jacob Lawrence and the Great Migration.
- Post The Migration Series - Panel no. 3 image (printed out or purchased) where every participant can see it.
- Write the discussion questions on newsprint and post.
Description of Activity
Participants explore the idea of spiritual journey through the metaphor of migration. Start by asking participants if they have ever been on a journey. Invite one participant to explain what that experience was like.
Then ask participants if they have ever been on a spiritual journey. If any have, ask them to describe what that was like. If they have not, ask them to share a few suggestions about what they think a spiritual journey would be like.
Explain that the group will explore the idea of spiritual journey by using migration as a metaphor. Point out the Jacob Lawrence painting you posted. Using the information from Leader Resource 4 and any other research you have done, take about five minutes to tell participants about Jacob Lawrence and the Great Migration. Explain that the image posted is part of a larger piece of work called The Migration Series, Lawrence's effort to tell the story of the millions of African Americans who left their homes in the southern United States and moved to northern cities. Emphasize the following:
- This was a story of both hope and fear, of joy and disappointment
- These people were, in most cases, fleeing brutal oppression by a white supremacist culture
- Leaving the South was an act of resistance and a forging of a new future
- Unfortunately, many of these African Americans faced additional racism when they reached the North
- Migration is about finding wholeness. When someone has a dream unfulfilled, that yearning can feel like a hole in their very being. These people had hopes and dreams that they couldn't realize in the South at the time. They moved north in an effort to realize those hopes and dreams and thus become more whole.
Invite the group to reflect on the questions posted on newsprint:
- What do you think it felt like to be uprooted from everything you know and to move to a totally new place? Have you ever had that experience?
- The people in the painting are carrying bags. What do you think are in those bags? If you were going on a similar journey, what would you put in your bags?
- As they prepared to leave on their journey, do you think they knew where they would end up or what would happen along the way?
- How does this picture and the story it tells relate to the idea of spiritual journey? To your spiritual journey?
- Have you ever had a dream or hope so important to you that you felt your life would not be complete until it was fulfilled?
- The African Americans who migrated were taking control of their lives in a new way. Have you ever taken control of your life in a new way? Do you control your spiritual journey, or do you believe it just happens?
Help the youth make connections with both the hopes and joys of a spiritual journey and the fears and pain that might be present.
Emphasize the point that spiritual journeys are really a quest for wholeness. Acknowledge that their experiences are different than those of the African Americans who were migrating to the North. Finally, ask participants if they see any connections between this migration story and the story of David and Goliath and the five smooth stones that was part of the opening worship.
Including All Participants
Someone with vision impairments might need to have another participant or the workshop leader describe the image to them.