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6-8 > U.S. History
Grade level: 6-8 Subject: U.S. History Duration: One class period
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Objectives | Materials | Procedures | Adaptations | Discussion Questions | Evaluation | Extensions | Suggested Readings | Links | Vocabulary | Academic Standards | Credit
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Objectives
 



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Find a video description, video clip, and discussion questions.
 
The Promised Land: We Stand at the Crossroads




Students will understand the following:
1. Close observation is an important tool for social scientists and for others who comment on American society.
2. The laws that leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. worked for are in place but don’t always determine how people interact with one another.
Materials

For this lesson, you will need:
Procedures

1. After you have discussed the achievements and the lost opportunities of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, ask your students to consider black-white relationships in their city or town now, at the beginning of the 21st century. Ask them to write individual letters that contain their observations of black-white relationships and that express their concerns, if any, about the future of those relationships.
2. Advise students to focus their observations about race relations on one particular place within the community—not on the entire community. Help students brainstorm a list of places they may want to observe carefully and then write about. Here are some ideas:
  • The school cafeteria
  • A church group
  • The emergency room in the local hospital
  • The local Gap or another shop popular with teenagers
  • A nearby ballpark or other sports site
  • A classroom
  • Public transportation
3. To assess the relationships between blacks and whites in a given location, students will have to ask themselves questions such as the following as they carry out their observations:
  1. Are people of both races ever present at the same time in this particular location? How do you, the observer, explain the fact that both races are or aren’t present at the same time?
  2. If people of both races are present together in this particular location, do people of both races interact with each other or do black people stay with black people and white people stay with white people?
  3. If people of both races interact in this place, how do they treat each other? With civility? With hostility?
  4. How do other people in this place react if and when they see black people and white people interacting?
  5. In this place, do people of either race tell jokes about people of the other race?
4. Tell students that the (imaginary) audience for their letters is a friend, close relative, or descendant of Martin Luther King Jr. With that audience in mind, each student should mention in the letter whether King would be satisfied by or disappointed in what the letter reports about black-white relationships.
5. Remind students to create their letters by following the stages of the writing process: prewriting, drafting, and revising and editing before they hand in their letters to you.
6. Depending on your particular community, you may want to discuss with the class at large the range or the similarity of letters students wrote, or you may choose to keep to yourself the observations that your students made.
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Adaptations

Adaptations for Older Students:
Older students might go beyond observations to preparing and conducting race-relation surveys at a variety of sites in your town. The surveys would collect opinions of both blacks and whites about race relations at a particular site or in the town in general.
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Discussion Questions

1. After visiting Chicago Dr. King said, “I must report that Chicago is far from being the promised land.” He went on to say that there was “no Jerusalem on Lake Michigan.” Discuss what he meant and why he might have said this. What do you think Dr. King would say if he visited Chicago today? Support your answers with as much factual information as possible.
2. When there was an outbreak of civil unrest following Dr. King’s assassination, Mayor Daley called it a riot. Ghetto residents said it was a rebellion. Discuss the difference between a riot and a rebellion. What other historical events can you think of where there may have been a difference of opinion about the character of an insurrection?
3. Numerous references are made to ghettos and segregation in this video. There are comments about a ghetto in the sky, perpendicular segregation, the two largest and poorest ghettos in America, and finally a segregated attitude. Discuss the meaning of a “segregated attitude,” and consider the impact of this thinking on race relations in the United States today. Focus on positive ways of dealing with this issue.
4. One of the speakers expresses concerns about the American Dream. Later a minister says that he teaches both the spiritual and economics. Discuss the relationship he finds in the two, describe how his thoughts might relate to what is called the American Dream, and elaborate on any of your concerns about achieving it.
5. There is a comment in the video that refers to Chicago as the most racially segregated city in America today. Debate that statement, using research to support your position.
6. A speaker remarked that whenever he is hurt he just “Prays it out. When other people get hurt, they get violent.” Discuss different ways of dealing with hurt and reflect on your own methods of addressing it.
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Evaluation

You can evaluate students’ letters using the following three-point rubric:
Three points:clear thesis statement with substantial supporting details; coherent and unified paragraphs; error-free grammar, usage, and mechanics
 
Two points:thesis statement with minimal supporting details; some problems with coherency and unity; some errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
 
One point:missing thesis statement or supporting details; lack of coherence and unity; many errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
 
You can ask your students to contribute to the assessment rubric by determining a minimum number of supporting details.
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Extensions

Living Witnesses
Ask students to interview at least three people who lived during the 1960s about their experiences of negative and positive race relationships. Advise students to develop their questions in advance and to be ready to discuss their findings in a class discussion.

Civil Rights Music
Ask students to find recordings of songs sung during the civil rights movement. Tell them to describe both the content and the sound of those pieces of music.

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Suggested Readings

Oh, Freedom! Kids Talk About the Civil Rights Movement With the People Who Made it Happen
Casey King and Linda Barrett Osborne; foreword by Rosa Parks; portraits by Joe Brooks, Alfred A. Knopf, 1997
Interviews by young people with participants in the civil rights movement accompany essays that describe the history of efforts to make equality a reality for African Americans.

The New African American Urban History
Kenneth W. Goings and Raymond A. Mohl [editors], Sage Publications, 1996
This collection of essays covers: 1) the transplanted social customs of rural blacks to the north, 2) the experience of newly urbanized blacks as household wage laborers, 3) black working-class opposition in the Jim Crow South, and 4) overviews of Black Americans as city dwellers from the early-to-late 20th century.

The Chicago NAACP and the Rise of Black Professional Leadership, 1910-1966
Christopher Robert Reed, Indiana University Press, 1997
This volume of the “Blacks in the Diaspora” series offers a detailed portrait of the organization of black working class Chicagoans into the formidable civil rights advocacy entity.

Bound for the Promised Land: African American Religion and the Great Migration
Milton C. Sernet, Duke University Press, 1997
Southern-style religion was one of the practices that black Southerners who migrated to the North brought with them. This work explains the role of Afro Americans’ religion in the rural-to-urban migration, and how that religion was transplanted.

Chicago Soul
Robert Pruter, University of Illinois Press, 1991
This history of the emergence and development of the Chicago soul style is covered with inclusion of an excellent selection of photographs and maps. The work is a volume of the “Music in American Life” series.

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Links

The American Image: Portrait of Black Chicago
John White’s photographs portray the difficult circumstances faced by many of Chicago’s African Americans.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Directory
This Directory contains secondary documents written about Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as primary documents written during King’s life.

Archives of African American Music and Culture
Founded in 1910, the National Urban League is the premier social service and civil rights organization in America.

Chicago History Information at CPL (Chicago Public Library)
This site includes a Chicago History Timeline 1673 and timeline of Deaths, Disturbances, Disasters and Disorders in Chicago, information on Chicago Mayors, the Chicago Municipal Flag and other symbols, plus additional references.

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Vocabulary

Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.

speaker    migration
Definition:The movement from one country, place, or locality to another.
Context:the continuing story of those whose lives were part of the great migration.

speaker    de facto segregation
Definition:Segregation in actuality, if not by law.
Context:Blacks were north of 63rd. Whites were south of 63rd. It was what we used to call de facto segregation.

speaker    ghetto
Definition:A quarter of a city in which members of a minority group live especially because of social, legal, or economic pressure.
Context:To describe the movement out of the ghetto was to reach for the language of military conflict—invasions, dividing lines, no-go zones.

speaker    carnage
Definition:Great and bloody slaughter; destruction as a result of battle.
Context:In the four-day carnage on the west side, 20 blocks were destroyed and the National Guard patrolled Chicago streets.

speaker    enmity
Definition:Hatred.
Context:And if he becomes too successful or knows too much, he could arouse the enmity of people who fear anybody who knows too much.

speaker    microcosm
Definition:A community or other unity that is an epitome of a larger unity.
Context:I think what you see in the black community is a microcosm of the total community—the demise of hope.

speaker    emancipation
Definition:The condition of being released from bondage; freedom.
Context:...gigantic historical changes in a mere three generations: slavery, emancipation, and migration.

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Standards

This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
 
Grade level:6-8
Subject area:U.S. history
Standard:
Understands the struggle for racial and gender equality and for the extension of civil liberties.
Benchmarks:
Understands individual and institutional influences on the civil rights movement.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:U.S. history
Standard:
Understands the struggle for racial and gender equality and for the extension of civil liberties.
Benchmarks:
Understands significant influences on the civil rights movement.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:U.S. history
Standard:
Understands the struggle for racial and gender equality and for the extension of civil liberties.
Benchmarks:
Understands how the focus shifted from de jure segregation to the nationwide assault on de facto segregation.

Grade level:6-8
Subject area:geography
Standard:
Understands the nature, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth’s surface.
Benchmarks:
Knows the factors that influence patterns of rural-urban migration.

Grade level:6-8
Subject area:geography
Standard:
Understands the nature, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth’s surface.
Benchmarks:
Knows the ways in which human movements and migration influence the character of a place.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:geography
Standard:
Understands the nature, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth’s surface.
Benchmarks:
Understands the impact of human migration on physical and human systems.

Grade level:6-8
Subject area:civics
Standard:
Understands issues regarding personal, political, and economic rights.
Benchmarks:
Knows what constitutes personal rights and the major documentary sources of personal rights.

Grade level:6-8
Subject area:civics
Standard:
Understands issues regarding personal, political, and economic rights.
Benchmarks:
Understands basic contemporary issues involving personal, political, and economic rights.

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Credit

Tish Raff, social studies teacher and administrator, Sequoyah Elementary School, Derwood, Maryland.
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