This unit was created by 10th grade African American History Educators in Philadelphia, PA, as part of the 2021 cohort of The 1619 Project Education Network. It is designed for facilitation across approximately 2-3 weeks, or eight class periods.
In this unit, students will explore the wealth theft from Black Americans that has repeatedly occurred from 1619 to the present. They will look at ways Black Americans have resisted this and consider what solutions they might be able to envision for the ongoing racial wealth gap in the United States. At the end of the unit, students will consider a problem they have explored in the unit and create a proposal for a comprehensive solution. Innovative solutions are the goal. Students should not be limited by what is “practical.” The forms offered for the final project are photo essay, expert presenter presentation, podcast, and zine.
Objectives and Outcomes
Students will be able to…
- deconstruct and evaluate primary and secondary source documents in order to have a clear understanding of different media sources.
- delineate and evaluate an argument in order to be able to participate in civil discourse.
- conduct research to produce clear and coherent writing in order to express their learning, understanding, and opinion.
- compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics in order to create their own opinion.
- What are ways that the United States could begin to repair the harm of enslavement, Jim Crow, and other forms of wealth theft from Black Americans?
- How does white rage fuel the racial wealth gap?
- Why are Black Americans often living in a lower socioeconomic class in the U.S.?
- What patterns do we notice about violence and terrorism by White Americans against the Black middle class?
- What are reparations and are they actually possible in the U.S.?
- Why does the Tulsa Massacre stand out as a jarring event in history?
- How is American Capitalism more brutal than other forms?
- What are possible solutions to the wealth gap for Black Americans?
Assessment 1: After reading and interacting with numerous materials, students will participate in a conversation about the history of wealth inequality in the United States. Students will have the opportunity to prepare for this and students not actively speaking will utilize a backchannel on Padlet to share thoughts and questions, as well as capture quotes from speakers.
Assessment 2: Students will apply what they have learned to propose a solution to the lasting impacts of enslavement and wealth theft. They will be able to choose the format in which they would like to share their learning and proposed solution. Students can choose to present their information as either a photo essay, zine, podcast, or presentation. Each method will require students to research and develop an argument to defend their solution.
Seven-lesson unit plan for teachers, including pacing, texts and multimedia resources, a graphic organizer for all student activities, guiding questions for group discussions, and performance tasks for the unit. Download below, or scroll down to read the complete unit plan.
|Texts||“Capitalism” by Matthew Desmond from The 1619 Project: This essay that traces the brutality of American capitalism to practices created as part of the institution of slavery.
Excerpt from White Rage by Carol Anderson: This book excerpt is used to introduce students to theories behind the patterns of violence by White Americans against Black Americans over the course of U.S. history.
“Types of Economic Systems” from Sociology, published by the University of Minnesota: This resource introduces students to different economic systems.
"Seneca Village & Central Park" by Brent Staples for The New York Times: This article about the destruction of Seneca Village to support the construction of Central Park is explored independently by students to examine patterns of violence against Black Americans in the 19th and 20th centuries.
"Elaine Massacre" by Noa Yachot for The Guardian: This article about describes the details of a violent attack against Black Americans in Elaine, Arkansas in 1919.
“Terrorism and Economic Injustice After Enslavement” by Julianne Malveaux for ACLU: This resource from economist Malveaux the lasting economic impacts that violence against Black Americans in the 20th century has had on Black communities throughout history.
|Videos||“What is Socialism?” and "What is Capitalism?” from NowThisWorld: Video series describing economic systems
Wilmington Coup & Massacre from the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (including a video from Vox): A video describing a violent attack against Black Americans in Wilmington, NC in 1898.
The massacre of Tulsa’s “Black Wall Street’” from Vox: This video describes the attack on Black communities by white mobs in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921 and current efforts to uncover what happened to the bodies of those who were killed.
Tulsa 1921: An American Tragedy from CBS News: This video resource offers additional details about the attack on Black communities by white mobs in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921.
Common Core Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.2: Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.8: Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.3: Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.6: Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
At the conclusion of this unit, students use research from the unit to create a final project that presents proposed solutions for closing the racial wealth gap in the United States. The following are examples from Philadelphia, PA high school students who completed the unit in spring 2022:
In lesson five from this unit, students review several resources that examine the connection between violence against Black Americans in the early 20th century and the expansion of the racial wealth gap. They engage in small-group and whole discussions after reading to explore the causes and impacts of the racial wealth gap. The following are student quotes from a Padlet that students in Philadelphia, PA used when engaging with this lesson in spring 2022: