Line of Inquiry
Why are Congo Square and the people that gathered there important to New Orleans history and culture?
Teaching Strategy

Congo Square History: A Gathering Place - The Significance of Gathering
4th-7th Grades

Explore Which of these audio and visual resources will activate imagination and draw students into this investigation?
Calinda Archive Photo
Calinda Archive Photo Photo: Unknown
Congo Square
Congo Square Photo: Greater New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation
Congo Square Sign Post
Congo Square Sign Post Photo: Unknown
Long Barrel Drum
Long Barrel Drum Photo: Fernandez
Map of Congo Square - 1880
Map of Congo Square - 1880 Photo: Historic New Orleans Collection

What Does Congo Square Mean to Me?

Asia Rainey, Writer/Spoken Word Performance Artist:

Congo Square: the people, their music, the songs and influence on jazz. Featuring commentary by Wynton Marsalis and Gerald Early.  


Luther Gray // History of Congo Square from Positive Vibrations Foundation on Vimeo.

Positive Vibrations Foundation: Luther Gray  


Engage What activities will lead students into finding answers through this line of inquiry?

Activity One

Before beginning work with students, be sure to review the Description included in the links section of this Teaching Strategy.

1. Using maps in your classroom and online references, ask students, “Where is Congo Square located within the United States and the city of New Orleans?”

2. Show students the video, Spirits of Congo Square, linked in the Video section of this Teaching Strategy. Ask students, “Who were some of the people that gathered in Congo Square? From what regions of Africa and the Caribbean did they come?”

3. Working in small groups, ask students to map the points in Africa and the Caribbean from which the people who gathered in Congo Square came.

Activity Two

1. Through a class discussion, list some popular days or events when people gather together. Why might these gatherings be important?

2. Working in small groups, ask students to create a collage of their favorite gathering(s) and present their collages to the class. As they prepare their presentations, ask them to highlight the following:

  • Who are the people in this gathering?
  • Where are they from?
  • What do they bring with them?
  • How does their participation impact the gathering?

Connect How do these investigations support other academic goals and objectives?

Curricular Connections

Literacy – Speaking and Listening:
  • Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade-appropriate topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.1
  • Present claims and findings, sequencing ideas logically and using pertinent descriptions, facts, and details to accentuate main ideas or themes; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.4

Reflect & Assess How will you know what your students have learned? back to top

Sample Reflection or Assessment

1. Test students’ knowledge using the Congo Square Crossword Puzzle included in the Links & Documents section of this Teaching Strategy.

2. Create a fill-in-the-blank review page to help students summarize the history of Congo Square. Have students complete the review in pairs, independently, or as a test. They can take it home or keep it in a notebook/journal.

3. Create a rubric to assess student understanding of the content. Possible ratings may include:

  • 3: Student is able to synthesize information from a variety of sources or think creatively about how to apply information to a local situation.
  • 2: Student is able to interact with information on a basic level, but does not engage critical thinking skills.
  • 1: Student is able to regurgitate or copy information from one place to another; yet no critical thinking skills are employed