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Examining the Legacy of the American Civil Rights Era
|Grades||11 – 12|
|Lesson Plan Type||Standard Lesson|
|Estimated Time||Five 50-minute sessions (plus additional time for viewing Legacy: Black and White in America, optional)|
As part of their study of Richard Wright’s autobiography Black Boy (or another work of African American literature set in the post-Civil War, pre-Civil Rights era), students will participate in personal reflection and critical research of the current black-white racial divide in America. By examining Wright’s book in the context of three contemporary events in American social politics (the election of Barack Obama, the Gates-Crowley incident, and the Jena Six case), students will gain a richer understanding of the work, and what it means to be an American today.
It is "too common a storyline" in high school English classes that "we don't need to talk about race" (29). Kelli Sassi and Ebony Elizabeth Thomas argue that teachers need to find alternative to classroom approaches that typify "colormuteness and colorblindness that merely perpetuate social inequities" (30). Too often, when students read a piece of African American literature set in the post-slavery, pre-Civil Rights era, they feel they can dismiss the social world of the text as merely "historical," something that's corrected now by legislation and improved public opinion. This lesson seeks to bring racial advances and inequity to the forefront, stressing both the gains and remaining goals of the American Civil Rights movement.
Sassi, Kelli, and Ebony Elizabeth Thomas. "Walking the Talk: Examining Privilege and Race in a Ninth-Grade Classroom." English Journal 97 : 6, 20 -25. Print.