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Units July 21, 2022

African American Cultural Achievements and Identity

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Lesson Summary: Students examine the development of Black American identity and cultural achievements by learning about 1619, the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance, and how they connect to the present. Downloads: Unit resources
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This unit was created by Buffalo Public Schools Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Initiatives as part of the 2021 cohort of The 1619 Project Education Network. It is designed for facilitation across approximately three weeks with daily lessons.

Objectives

Students will be able to…

  • Analyze and explain the contributions made by enslaved African Americans to the financial wealth and success of the United States by examining primary and secondary sources.
  • Analyze and examine the impact of the American democratic ideals of “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and “All men are created equal” on African Americans by examining primary and secondary sources.
  • Discover and analyze the impact that many important African Americans have made throughout history and present to help influence Black American culture and identity by examining a variety of primary and secondary sources. 
  • Analyze and explain two reasons that African Americans left the rural South and moved north or west during the Great Migration by examining multiple sources.
  • Analyze and explain the contributions by African Americans to music, arts, writing, and culture during the “Golden Age” or Harlem Renaissance by examining multiple sources.

Unit Overview

Students will examine and analyze the common theme embedded throughout this unit: The development of African American culture and identity linked back to enslaved Africans and important African Americans throughout history. 

Students will examine the contributions made by enslaved Africans to the financial wealth and success of the United States. Over this unit, students will read and analyze two excerpts from The New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project article “The Idea of America” by Nikole Hannah-Jones, as well as several primary and secondary sources. 

Scope and Sequence

Lesson 1: The American Idea 

Students will…

  • Discover the contributions made by enslaved African Americans to the financial wealth and success of the United States. 
  • Analyze and examine the impact of the American democratic ideals of “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and “All men are created equal” on African Americans. 
  • Read the 1619 Project article “The Idea of America” excerpt by Nikole Hannah-Jones, background excerpts/readings, analyze a quote from the Declaration of Independence, and watch a video clip to answer guided questions.
  • Write a three-paragraph essay using evidence to support their writing.

Lesson 2: Development of African American Culture and Identity

Students will…

  • Examine the contributions made by Black culture in American history. 
  • Examine how enslaved Africans contributed to the development of African American culture and identity by examining a variety of primary/secondary sources.
  • Analyze a new emergence of Black culture, identity, and pride during the 1960s and 1970s that helped cultivate and shape a phase in development for Black culture.
  • Complete a “See, Think, and Hear” project.

Lesson 3: The Great Migration and The Harlem Renaissance

Students will…

  • Explore the Great Migration by African Americans moving from the South to the North and West in large numbers. 
  • Analyze multiple sources and determine two reasons why African Americans left the South.
  • Explore the “Golden Age” of the African American cultural movement known as the Harlem Renaissance and the contributions made by many Black artists.
  • Research four new individuals and collect information creating a Harlem Renaissance Storyboard Project highlighting key contributors in the arts and culture of this “Golden Age.”

Performance Tasks

Lesson 1: Reflection Essay

  • Paragraph 1:
    • Explain why African Americans are considered the true fighters for the American ideal of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
    • Use two pieces of text-based evidence to show how African Americans fight for freedom, equality, and democracy paved the way for other marginalized groups.
  • Paragraph 2:
    • Explain your understanding of the contributions that enslaved Africans made to the overall success of the United States.
  • Paragraph 3:
    • Do you agree with the main idea represented in “The Idea of America”? Why or why not?

Lesson 2: See, Speak, Hear Project

Students will use what they learned in this lesson, notes, and their prior knowledge to document in their See, Speak, and Hear Project.  Students will respond in the chart about what they saw with their eyes (Pictures/Art/Videos), what they heard with their ears (Music/Videos), and what was spoken with their mouth (Readings/Poems/Music/Videos) about the creation and contributions made to African American culture and identity throughout history. Students will reflect on the lesson by selecting three topics from the Speak, Hear, and See chart that they believe has had the greatest impact on African American culture and identity.

Lesson 3: Harlem Renaissance Storyboard Project

Students will research four African Americans who shaped the “Golden Age” of Black culture known as the Harlem Renaissance. The students will research and find one person for each category. (Note: Students must select a person that they have not already learned about.) Categories are: Singer/Musician, Writer, Artist, and Stage Performer.

Students will be required to log their information on the Harlem Renaissance Storyboard Project Graphic Organizer. Teachers can set aside time for presentations at the end of class or the next day. Have students share their work with one another. Students are provided with several task questions to research and answer.

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