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African Americans in History

posted on January 30, 2013

African Americans in History

February marks the beginning of Black History month: a time to celebrate the extraordinary African Americans upon whose shoulders an entire people were lifted. It’s also a chance to remember the considerable hardships these pioneers endured in pursuit of equality. This month and beyond, we encourage you to spend some time with your students celebrating the countless contributions of African Americans.

IPTV has hundreds of resources ranging in subject areas from history to the arts and literature that help shed light on the significant contributions of the Americans who strived for equality.

Independent Lens
Independent Lens announced three new films that examine the history of African American activism, each from a unique perspective.

Daisy Bates: First Lady of Little Rock - Daisy Bates was a complex, unconventional, and largely forgotten heroine of the civil rights movement who led the charge to desegregate the all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957.

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 -Swedish journalists came to the United States to document the anti-war and Black Power movements of the late 60s and early 70s. The Black Power Mixtape combines music, original 16mm footage, and contemporary audio interviews from leading African American artists, activists, musicians, and scholars.

More Than a Month - Shukree Hassan Tilghman, a 29-year-old African American filmmaker, goes on a cross-country campaign to end Black History Month.

Iowa Pathways: African Americans in Iowa
Iowa Pathways offers several resources highlighting the contributions and historical roles of African Americans in Iowa.

Alexander Clark Documentary
In the 1860s, shortly after the Civil War, a black teenager from Muscatine, Iowa, tried to enroll in the local high school. She was denied admission because of her color. Her father sued and won. And when the school board challenged the decision in the Iowa Supreme Court, he won again. Because of those actions, Iowa's schools were desegregated more than 85 years before the rest of the nation officially outlawed school segregation. Despite his historic court victory, his prominent anti-slavery role, his recruitment of black soldiers for the Union side in the Civil War and his appointment as the U.S. ambassador to Liberia, Alexander Clark has been all but lost from history. After a chance occurrence 35 years ago, another Muscatine man, a white man, launched a campaign to restore Clark's place in history. The cause came to consume his life.

Being Heard Lesson Plan
The Harlem Renaissance in New York during the 1920s and 30s nurtured the talents of African-American writers such as Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and James Weldon Johnson. Through their work, these creative individuals helped define and enrich the black experience in the U.S. In this activity, students examine the work of contemporary authors who use their writing to express opinions about the struggle against prejudice and oppression in our society.

American Masters:

Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man: Ralph Ellison wrote about the experience of being ignored, bringing to light a powerful meditation on race and social structure. American Masters offers a lesson plan for students to examine their own communities to bring to light groups that might be considered "invisible.” Students are then asked to connect their own personal experiences to an understanding of larger societal structures.

Ella Fitzgerald: In this lesson plan, students will learn the basics of jazz appreciation. While hearing performances by various artists including Ella Fitzgerald, students will learn about jazz styles, the roots of jazz, and the characteristics of different types of jazz. They will also consider the culture of jazz and its relationship to African-American culture and history. Students will be able to better understand the connection between music and culture.

Sidney Poitier: Sidney Poitier nurtured his career by refusing roles that detracted from his human dignity, opting instead for roles that demonstrated his intelligence, wit, and talent. His depictions of blacks on stage, in film, and on television was and remains revolutionary because they show that black men can be proud and powerful characters without subjecting themselves to humiliation. In addition to his acting, he established himself as a writer and director, a thinker and critic, a humanitarian and diplomat. In this lesson, students will learn how theatre affected the Civil Rights Movement.

Lena Horne: Race played a critical role in Horne's life. She struggled with how to be a black woman, to make connections with her family and colleagues, and how to find herself as a human being and contributor to the larger world. In this activity, students participate in activities that focus on the role of race in the entertainment world and make connections to Horne's life story.

American Experience: Freedom Riders
Freedom Riders is the powerful, harrowing, and ultimately inspirational story of six months in 1961 that changed America forever. From May until November 1961, more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives—and many endured savage beatings and imprisonment—for simply traveling together on buses and trains as they journeyed through the Deep South. The story of the Freedom Riders offers students a window into the Civil Rights Movement that allows them to identify more closely with the sacrifice and courage that was needed to secure civil rights for all Americans.

African Americans in Education on PBS LearningMedia
Explore the experiences of historical figures who fought for American Civil Rights, analyze the various kinds of music that came out of the south and later developed into blues, jazz, R&B, and hip hop, or examine the societal and cultural ideals of Americans at different points in history. PBS LearningMedia offers hundreds of resources pertaining to slavery, race, individuality, identity, music, literature, and more.

Tags: African American history Black History Month civil rights education educators independent lens Iowa Pathways Language and Literacy PBS LearningMedia Social Studies teachers video

Subjects: The ArtsLiteracy & LanguagesSocial Studies


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