Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun provides a compelling and honest look into one family's aspirations to move to another Chicago neighborhood and the thunderous crash of a reality that raises questions about for whom the "American Dream" is accessible.
In this lesson, students analyze Jacob Lawrence’s The Migration of the Negro Panel no. 57 (1940-41), Helene Johnson’s Harlem Renaissance poem “Sonnet to a Negro in Harlem” (1927), and Paul Laurence Dunbar’s late-nineteenth-century poem “We Wear the Mask” (1896), considering how each work represents the life and changing roles of African Americans from the late nineteenth century to the Harlem Renaissance and The Great Migration.
Students examine Martin Puryear’s "Ladder for Booker T. Washington" and consider how the title of Puryear’s sculpture is reflected in the meanings we can draw from it. They learn about Booker T. Washington’s life and legacy, and through Puryear's ladder, students explore the African American experience from Booker T.'s perspective and apply their knowledge to other groups in U.S. History. They also gain understanding of how a ladder can be a metaphor for a person’s and a group’s progress toward goals.
In this lesson, students analytically read “Learning to Read,” a poem by Francis Watkins Harper about an elderly former slave which conveys the value of literacy to blacks during and after slavery. The activities help students examine the experiences of slaves, the history of literacy, and 21st century values on the power of reading.
Nigerian born Chinua Achebe is one of the world's most well-known and influential contemporary writers. His first novel, Things Fall Apart (1958), is an early narrative about the European colonization of Africa told from the point of view of the colonized people.
By studying Mark Twain's novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and its critics with a focus on cultural context, students will develop essential analytical tools for navigating this text and for exploring controversies that surround this quintessential American novel.
Students learn the linguistic strategies Achebe uses to convey the Igbo and British missionary cultures presented in the novel and how the text combines European linguistic and literary forms with African oral traditions.