Release of the film Green Book (2018) inspired renewed interest in the experiences of African Americans when traveling in the United States during the 20th century. This inquiry-based lesson combines individual investigations with whole or small group analysis of primary sources and visual media to investigate the compelling question: How have the intersections of race and place impacted U.S. history and culture?
This lesson will focus on the views of the founders as expressed in primary documents from their own time and in their own words. Students will see that many of the major founders opposed slavery as contrary to the principles of the American Revolution. Students will also gain a better understanding of the views of many founders, even those who owned slaves – including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson – who looked forward to a time when slavery would no longer mar the American Republic.
Kerry James Marshall's painting Voyager, depicting two partially obscured Black figures standing aboard a ship, refers to an actual ship, Wanderer, which was among the last slave ships in the United States, illegally transporting more than 400 individuals from West Africa to Georgia in 1858—even though the importation of enslaved people had been banned in 1808. Use the painting as an entry point to discuss the Transatlantic slave trade and introduce students to the NEH-funded database Slave Voyages project.
Use Aaron Douglas’s mural Into Bondage to introduce the stories of famous Harlem Renaissance figures, including Langston Hughes, and to explore the history and importance of Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the end of Black enslavement in the United States.
After analyzing photojournalist James Karales's iconic photograph of the march, reading background material on it, and considering what the marchers might have thought and felt, students write and illustrate a postcard describing this civil rights event from a marcher's viewpoint.
By examining The Dove by artist Romare Bearden, students will learn to appreciate the artistic and intellectual achievement of Black artists in America in the first half of the 20th century. By listening to music, students will see how art and music intersect to tell us a story. They will relate that story to their own lives.
In 2017, 144 skyscrapers (towers at least 660 feet tall) joined the skylines of 69 cities across the globe—a record that will likely be broken again before the end of 2018. This inquiry-based lesson combines individual investigations of primary resources and visual media with group analysis to investigate the following inquiry: How is the evolution of the American skyscraper related to broader themes of modern U.S. history, economics, and culture?