Black Quilted Narratives: Connecting Stories
During this first Teach-In, teachers will introduce their students to the topics of social justice and racial healing through the lens of the modern Civil Rights Movement (CRM). Although students are familiar with the CRM, the BQN curriculum package is built upon NVLP’s unique one-of-a-kind webisodes or first-person visionary interviews. As a result, students are reintroduced to this important topic through the eyes and experiences of the visionaries. Using a webisode that provides an overview of the modern Civil Rights Movement, students will discuss and deconstruct Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. They will also complete a pre-evaluation worksheet that will be revisited at the end of the five months of Teach-Ins.
Cell Phones or Computers (for Teach-In Evaluation)
Television or Computer to view the webisodes and videos
Access to the Internet
Paper Copies of the Evaluation (if needed)
Warm Up: Individually created
Before students walk into the classroom, place a colored square on their desk, face down. Each square should have a different word written on it. The words should connect to the central theme, “We Dream of a World with...” with word or phrase choices such as: “love, happiness, togetherness, sisterly love, brotherly love, color blindness, equality, justice, freedom, political power, safety, green spaces, clean air, safe spaces, dignity, respect, pride, opportunities, peace, unity, ...out war, you.”
Lecture Blast: Once students are seated, tell them that approximately fifty years ago (1963), on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, half a million black and white Americans came together in support of a dream: the dream of building and creating a better America. They had come from all over the country, in cars, on trains, on buses, and in some cases, on foot to bear witness and be present at this historic moment that fundamentally shaped our society. This event, The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, was a fundamental moment during the modern Civil Rights Movement, which taken as a while consists a series of moments when taken together make up our American quilt. Outline what it means to study and think about social justice, diversity, and racial healing and if necessary, define these terms for the students. ( Webisode #1: “Overview of the Civil Rights Movement” https://youtu.be/VOO59m5dVUs ; For additional background information about the modern Civil Rights Movement, see http://www.visionaryproject.org/teacher/lesson1/hist.html)
Depending upon the grade level of your students, these definitions can be written and put up on the board.
Tell them that during the BQN Teach-Ins (which will take place over the next five months), they will discuss the modern Civil Rights Movement and examine some of the key moments that happened during this time, namely the March on Washington and the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and some of the key ideas that shaped the political process, namely active nonviolent resistance. They will use both a social and a racial justice lens to view and deconstruct the Movement. They are going to do some critical thinking, close reading, archival research, conduct an oral history interview, and create a paper quilt.
Activate prior knowledge by asking students to share what they know about the modern Civil Rights Movement.
Depending upon the grade level of your students, this can range from a few things to an entire list. If need be, once students reach seven-ten events, have them begin to define each of these moments. Use the time to clear up any misconceptions that students may have about these moments.
Webisode: Tell students that they will begin by watching a short webisode, “The Overview of the Civil Rights Movement,” that provides an overview of the modern Civil Rights Movement. (More information about the March on Washington may be found at http://www.core-online.org/History/washington_march.htm)
After the webisode, have them read the following section from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech:
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Depending upon your classroom, students can either read the quotes or watch a small section of Dr. King’s speech.
Once the students have finished reading (or listening to) the section, have them take a moment to think and reflect on whether or not they think we have achieved Dr. King’s dream. Have the students write their answers first and then share them in either small groups or in a whole group discussion.
Younger students may benefit from using a Graphic Organizer, either a teacher created one or one that they develop as a class.
- Tell the students that now that they have revisited King’s speech, they are going to compare it to a portion of John Lewis’s March speech and, time permitting, to an interview with Dorothy I. Height where she also discusses the March.
If students are not familiar with John Lewis, explain to them that during the modern Civil Rights Movement, Lewis served as the chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), was one of the heads of the national civil rights organizations who helped to organize the March (dubbed by the media as the “Big Six” ), and currently serves as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia’s 5th District. If they are also not familiar with Dr. Height, tell them that she was the president of the National Council of Negro Women, a national civil rights organization, and that she created and founded the Black Family Reunion.
Note: The “Big Six” were the leaders of the organizations that helped to plan and promote the March on Washington and consisted of Lewis, SNCC; King, the chairman of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC); James Farmer, the founder of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE); A. Philip Randolph, the organizer of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; Roy Wilkins, the executive directive of the NAACP; and Whitney Young, from the National Urban League. Dorothy I. Height, president of the National Council of Negro Women, helped to organize the March but was not invited to speak.
Tell the students to take a moment to think about what it means to have a “dream” and be willing to die for it. Ask them whether or not they have dreams and then have them think about the difference between an individual dream and a collective dream.
Time permitting: Once they have had a moment to reflect, tell the students that they are going to watch a clip from Dorothy I. Height as she describes the March on Washington and the modern Civil Rights Movement.
Once the interview has ended, have students refer back to (either their Graphic Organizer or their notes) to reflect on whether or not change has not happened.
Students should be instructed to turn over their post cards, read their word, and then write a one-sentence description of it. Postcards should be left on their tables when class ends. (Postcards should be collected and then given back to the students at the end of the last Teach-In).
Conclude the discussion by reviewing the definitions of social justice and racial healing.
- Have students either take out their phones or move to a computer station to complete the BQN Pre-Evaluation using Survey Monkey.
- Students will go through their communities and take photographs that answer the question, “What does diversity look like through my eyes?” These can either be placed in a Power Point or in a Word document.
Since the next Teach-In is next month, students should be instructed to complete it throughout the month. Perhaps scholars can create a poster or countdown clock to remind them about the Assessment.