2. Differing and changing attitudes towards racial minorities
Suggested teaching and homework activities
Points to note
Differing and changing attitudes towards racial minorities
Teachers will need to first introduce and explore issues about the topic of race – what does it mean, why do we study it, what issues and difficulties does it raise for historians? A good case-study here would be to look at the problems of bias that race raises for historians.
A useful activity could start by looking at American society and the position of black Americans in 1805 and compare this with the situation at the end of the 20th century/today.
Teachers may choose to provide key points of narrative in the course booklets. Students could interact with this information by constructing detailed time lines and/or mind maps. They may be directed to other sources of reading/information to supplement the information they already have thus expanding the depth of their knowledge.
Teachers may choose to outline the key narrative points on a PowerPoint presentation and set students an independent reading/research task to add to their knowledge.
http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAkkk.htm - Ku Klux Kan
Differing and changing attitudes towards racial minorities
Teachers could introduce patterns of change and continuity by outlining to students the following narrative chronology:
Attitudes to slavery/abolition of slavery in 1865
Attitudes to racial minorities during the Reconstruction period (1865-1877)
The Black Codes and the Southern States
Reactions to Johnson’s plans in the North
Attitude of Congress 1866-1870
White supremacy – Ku Klux Klan
‘Jim Crow’ laws
Attitudes towards racial minorities during and after World War One and the ‘Great Migration’ of southern African-Americans to the North
Klan revival after World War One
Attitudes towards racial minorities during World War Two (including immigration policies since WWII)
Post-war attitudes to other minorities and attitudes – native Americans, Chicano, Hispanic etc
Attitudes towards racial minorities – Truman era
Brown v Board of Education
Attitudes towards racial minorities during civil rights era/response and attitudes towards key individuals
Teachers may take the opportunity to stress the nature of historical inquiry into patterns of change and continuity.
Teachers may also wish to include some discussion of attitudes towards other minorities such as Native Americans, Chicanos, Hispanics and Asian Americans.
Differing and changing attitudes towards racial minorities
Students could be asked to use material generated above to do some work on overviews – e.g. is it possible to draw a graph representing the changing experiences of black Americans? Can the students draw up another list to chart the development of the reaction of black Americans through protests and civil rights organisations? The students in pairs or small groups could each research one of the items on the list to build up a more detailed introduction/overview.
Students could develop all/some of the above points in some/all of the following activities and tasks.
Students could be asked to develop responses to the statement: ‘Attitudes toracial minorities ensured that African Americans gained very little from the period of Reconstruction 1865-1877’.
Responses to this statement could be developed by requiring students to research and collate information relevant to the following questions:
What were the main arguments for and against the abolition of slavery at the end of the Civil War?
What was Johnson trying to achieve in the period of Reconstruction and how might this have been of benefit to African Americans?
In what ways did white Americans in the Southern states oppose Reconstruction?
Did African Americans derive any benefits from the period 1865-1877?
The activity could be consolidated by a plenary session where the class as a whole discussed their findings to the above questions.
Teachers may take the opportunity to explain to students that the exercise they have just completed is very similar to the format of the examination paper they will sit at the end of the course. It may also be appropriate to encourage students to focus on the aims of the course and the assessment objectives
Teachers could produce a handout very similar to the exam paper containing 9 – 10 sources all relating to the questions listed to the left.
Course booklet – specific reference to exams and exam papers/assessment
Teachers could develop the activity by taking the opportunity to discuss the distinction between historical sources and historical evidence based on the extracts the students have used for the activity.
Teachers could explain the difference between historical sources and historical evidence.
There is a very poetic definition of ‘What is a source’ in Arnold’s ‘History: A Very Short Introduction (OUP) page 60.
It is important that as the unit goes on students are gradually introduced to more sophisticated ways of using a body of source material to test an interpretation - e.g. amending an interpretation, replacing an interpretation with a more satisfactory one (based on the sources), using a body of source material to create their own interpretations).
Students could be asked to develop responses to the statement: ‘Congressional reforms between 1866 and 1870 show differing attitudes to the position of African Americans’
Students could develop their response in a number of ways.
Independent reading and research on the main reforms passed by Congress between 1866 and 1870. Focus here should be on the effectiveness of the reforms and awareness of opposition and difficulties.
Students could be asked to outline a research project. Where would they look for sources relevant to the statement? What type of source would be most useful? This activity would lead naturally to the next activity (below).
Students could be asked to address the above question by analysing 9 – 10 short extracts that cover the main developments and reforms of the period. Sources could be chosen in such a way as to represent the different attitudes of the time to reforms designed to improve the lot of African Americans.
Consolidation and checking of learning could be achieved by requiring students to produce short Powerpoint presentations that explained a particular response to the statement.
Alternatively, consolidation and checking of learning could be achieved by requiring students to revise and prepare for a 20 point factual test. Or produce a series of flash cards showing key legislation and effectiveness. These could be used for later revision activities.
Paterson – pages 29-47
Most of the key sources listed above have good sections on Congress and legislative reforms.
Students could be asked to develop responses to the statement: ‘Attitudes towards racial minorities allowed the Southern states to reintroduce segregation by the mid-1870s’
Students could be supplied with a selection of source material that illustrates the reintroduction of segregation and negative attitudes to African Americans in the period up to the end of the 19th century. Sources could reflect the following themes and issues:
Growth of ‘white supremacy’
Growth and spread of the Ku Klux Klan
The ‘Jim Crow Laws’
Attitudes of southern state governments/legal segregation (Florida 1887)
‘Abandonment’ of the south to white supremacists by national government
Significance of key Supreme Court cases: ‘Slaughter House (1873), ‘Cruikshank’ (1875), ‘Reese’ (1876), ‘Plessey’ (1896), ‘Williams’ (1898)
Teachers could arrange an intermediate consolidation discussion before requiring students to undertake more detailed reading and research.
Teachers could produce a selection of sources all relating to the issues listed to the left. For this activity it is important that the sources are a variety of different types. (SEE RIGHT)
Murphy (Collins) covers the period effectively – pages 317-320.
http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USASblackcodes.htm - black codes
Teachers could develop the activity by taking the opportunity to discuss the wide range of different types of historical sources e.g. written, pictorial, statistical etc.
Teachers could encourage a discussion on the issues raised by different types of source as well as the different uses that they have.
Students could be asked to develop responses to the statement: ‘Attitudes towards African Americans were not significantly improved by their contribution to World War One’
Teachers could outline the hostile and acute nature of race relations in the USA as the country prepared to enter the war in Europe. Students could note the key points and be directed to independent reading for further information.
Students could research and make notes on the contribution of African Americans to the war effort.
Students could then work in pairs to prepare brief presentations on the African American experience after the war in Europe. Themes to be developed could include:
The impact of serving abroad on African American soldiers returning to the USA
The movement of large numbers (the ‘great migration’) of African Americans from the south to the north – growth of African American areas in northern cities
Chicago Race Riots – July 1919
Revival of Ku Klux Klan activities in the southern states
Teachers could provide a structured hand out to ensure students made effective notes during the presentation feedbacks. Teachers may also wish to produce a single side of A4 that provides a summary overview of the four key points that made up the presentations.
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/aaworld/reference/articles/great_migration.html - Great Migration
Structured hand out for note making exercise
Teachers could take the opportunity in this section of the scheme to begin to address the interpretation of historical sources.
Students could be given extracts from an African American first hand account of World War One that can be found online at - http://www.ritesofpassage.org/mil_wwone.htm
Teachers could facilitate a number of activities around several aspects of the extracts contained on the website. These could include:
Students are encouraged to interpret the extracts on the site. This could be a pair exercise that leads to a comparison of interpretations.
Discussion – why do historians have to interpret sources?
Teachers could develop the activity by encouraging students to appreciate that sources do not have fixed and unalterable meanings – they can be interpreted in different ways. Students could be asked to look at the website again and interpret the sources from the perspective of a historian interested in:
http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAncnw.htm - women
Teachers could take the opportunity in this section of the scheme to continue to address the interpretation of historical sources. Given the amount of available material, the issue of attitudes as expressed through inter-war lynching may be an appropriate theme to explore. This could be developed in a number of ways:
Teacher plays students the Billie Holiday version of ‘Strange Fruit’ - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4ZyuULy9zs or the Nina Simone version at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUsaknJCO5Q. Lyrics here - http://www.lyricsfreak.com/b/billie+holiday/strange+fruit_20017859.html. More info here - http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USACstrangefruit.htm
How do historians interpret a piece of music as a historical source? To what extent could/should historians bring informed imagination to any interpretation of the source?
Teachers could develop the theme by asking students to read accounts of lynching at http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAlynching.htm. Teachers could facilitate a discussion on the need to interpret the sources within their historical contexts: what happens if sources are interpreted outside of the content and context?
Students could be asked to develop responses to the statement: ‘African American involvement in World War Two had a significant effect on attitudes towards racial minorities in the USA’
Teachers could provide a basic overview of the African American experience of World War Two as an introduction.
Students could develop the theme by producing mind maps on one or all of the following areas for discussion:
Teachers may choose to encourage students to extend their knowledge in this area by considering the war time experiences of other minority groups such as Japanese Americans, Asian Americans, Native American Indians and Mexican Americans.
Students could be asked to develop responses to the statement: ‘Resistance to post-war civil rights illustrates the entrenched attitudes of many southern whites towards racial minorities in the USA’
Teacher introduces the theme by outlining the key events of the Truman period in relation to civil rights and the African American experience.
Students could develop the themes by working in pairs to produce short documentary films that could be uploaded to college/school intranets. Teachers could encourage students by promising that the best documentary will be uploaded to ‘You Tube’. The class as a whole will decide which documentary is best. Documentary topics could include:
White resistance in the south - Klan, march to Lincoln memorial in 1946
Impact of growing sense of ‘Cold War’ – links made between communism and civil rights movement
Challenge by the NAACP to Plessey v Ferguson – white response
Southern states and the ‘States’ Rights’ campaigns