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A Method of Teaching “Turned Off”: Inner-City Youths to Produce Urban Literature

Belinda Carberry

Contents of Curriculum Unit 81.01.03:

To Guide Entry

It has become an increasingly arduous task to teach youths who read three to four years below grade level to write about the people, places and situations in their community. Alvin Toffler states that students are “so ignorant of the past that they see nothing unusual about the present.” This statement expresses my sentiment exactly. These students are so ahistorical that they know little or nothing about their city, their neighborhood or the people who were instrumental to the growth and development of the city. Many students have grown so accustomed to their environment that they say it is dull, dead and not worth writing about. However, a city is a place where a myriad of activities go on twenty-four hours of the day. It is a place where educational and cultural opportunities are abundant and can satisfy the most curious and restless soul. A city is never dull, but the students label it as so because of several reasons. Some students are reluctant to write about their community because they are ashamed of it. They are afraid that the teacher and their classmates will associate them with the vice and immorality that runs rampant in the community. Other students are able to verbalize their feelings about drugs, crime and poverty in the community, but once they are asked to put their thoughts on paper, they are reluctant to do so because their written vocabulary is limited and because they know that expressing ideas on paper is sometimes difficult and time consuming. Many students believe that everybody knows what goes on in the city; therefore there is no need for them to repeat what has already been said or written.

While these students remain ignorant of the city’s history, its contributions to the development of culture, and the various opportunities the city has to offer, the city thrives and provides opportunities, entertainment, pleasure and excitement to those who dare to venture and discover.

Therefore, in this unit, I will develop strategies that will enable me to teach these students to express themselves through the written word. Even though students are reluctant to write, they will receive incentive through reading and viewing materials that pertain to city life. While working toward this goal, the students will also extend their concept of the city far beyond the ever-present crime, poverty, drugs and racism. They will begin to organize concrete concepts of what the city has to offer them in terms of self-prosperity.

This unit is intended to cover a 6 to 8 week period. This unit will be divided into three strategies. In the first strategy, the students will be required to read some historical information on the American city and New Haven. The second strategy will require the students to read and analyze poems, plays and prose that relate to the theme of the city. These literary materials will be read in the above order. Most of the poems are short and precise. They will help the students to begin to recall faces, places, people and situations in their own community. As the unit progresses, the materials will become more difficult, yet the focus will remain on the city. The plays and prose will allow the students to analyze characters who are products of urbanization.

Since these youths are “so ignorant of the past . . . ,” the first strategy I will use to motivate them to produce their own literature is a non-literary or historical approach. I will prepare a three to five page paper, “A Brief History of the American City and New Haven.” This brief history will serve as an introduction to the entire unit. The students will learn how the city developed and how its people settled in certain sections and shaped its economy, politics, social and cultural standards. Such background information will allow the students to compare and contrast their city with other cities throughout the United States. For example, the students will learn that blacks and immigrants flocked to northeastern cities in search of jobs in factories. They will also learn where and why ethnic groups settled in certain parts of cities. Student activities related to this strategy can be found in the Lesson Plan section of this unit.

The second strategy I will use to motivate the students to produce their own literature is a literary one. The students will read poems, plays and prose that reflect city life. Some of the literature will reenforce what the students read in the brief history, while other readings will deal specifically with racism, crime, poverty, and drugs. A great poet wrote that every thing has already been said about every subject, but a true poet learns how to express old ideas in new and creative ways. I will encourage the students to scrutinize the materials. Yet, from their visceral feelings, I will expect them to express their personal observations and experiences as being city dwellers. The reading selections serve only as a guide to balancing the students’ thoughts and expanding their perception and awareness of various topics that can be written about related to life in the city. Most of the poems are short so as to entice the students, who are reluctant to read, to quickly become involved with the unit and not feel inundated with work. As this section develops, the prose and plays will increase in length and depth.

In the following paragraphs, I will summarize the poems, plays and prose. The materials will be summarized in the order in which the students will read them. Student activities will follow each reading. These activities will be developed in the Lesson Plan section of this unit.

The themes of the following poems concern l8th and l9th century American cities. These poems include criticism of the city as well as the contributions cities have made to cultural development. The first poem is “Mannahatta” by Walt Whitman. This poem describes New York in the 1850’s. Whitman presents a much more tolerable view of city life than most modern poets. The reader gets a sense of a city filled with commerce and immigrants who are constantly causing the population to increase, yet the New York of the 1850’s is not polluted and the view of the sky is not obstructed by skyscrapers.

“Chicago” by Carl Sandburg, describes the typical modern city that has been criticized by sentimentalists and, on the other hand, praised by industrialists. The speaker in this poem weighs the negative and positive aspects of the city and decides to defend the city because of what it has done to improve mankind.

Ogden Nash in “The City,” wittily compares and contrasts city people to country people. In this poem, city people do not quite measure up to the courage, stamina and fortitude of country people; however, the city people live more comfortably.

The theme of the next poems reflect the myriad of sounds that can be heard in a city. “Broadway: Twilight” by Tom Prideaux is a very short poem that describes the sound of sirens piercing through traffic. While developing the feeling of chaos that the sirens produce, the poet interjects and describes an aesthetic and tranquil star-lighted sky that exists far beyond the chaos and noise on the city street.

“Auto Wreck” by Karl Shapiro has a rich theme that deals with death, but for my purpose I will concentrate on the theme of sound. This poem reiterates the theme of sirens and sound, but the poet includes the effect the sound has in drawing crowds. The poem suggests much activity made by the ambulance people, the fire department that “. . . douches ponds of blood,” the “. . . cops who sweep the glass . . . .”

Phyllis McGinley’s poem “Q Is For Quiet” will immediately allow the students to focus on the sounds that are heard on Sunday mornings. The sounds on Sundays are quite different from the sounds that are made on the other days of the week.

Nature is the theme of the following poems. “City Tree” by Edna St. Vincent Millay compares the sound tree leaves make in the country with the sound that they do not quite make in the city because of the overbearing traffic sounds.

“City Autumn” by Joseph Moncure is a short poem that depicts the beginning of fall in the city. The poet describes the effect the fall has on the birds, the buildings and the people. His picture describes a gloomy city.

The next theme deals with garbage on city streets. “The Term” by William Carlos Williams depicts an area of the city where trash blows to and fro and nobody cares. Also, in Patricia Hubbell’s poem, “The Streetcleaners’ Lament,” there is little hope that city streets will ever be clean. No matter how often streetcleaners “clean them,” which is one of the terms she uses repetitiously she believes there will be “dirt and dirt and dirt for ever” on city streets.

The following group of poems focus on the theme of people who make up a city. “People” by Lois Linkis describes the shapes, sizes and mannerisms of the people who live in cities. Rachel Field describes an old and bent man who sells flowers from a cart. In her poem, “The Flower Cart Man” Field tells of the shoddy old man with his lean and gray horse that goes from street to street selling flowers and brightening and perfuming his surroundings.

“Cobbler” by Peggy Bacon suggests that this occupation provides a needed service; however the cobbler in the poem knows little of anything outside of his business because he is so busy taking care of the needs of the people who live in the city.

“Richard Cory” by E. A. Richards tells how people marvel at well-dressed individuals they pass on city streets. A well-dressed individual makes one seem well-mannered and intelligent. But the character that is the envy of everyones’ eye, went home one calm summer night and put a bullet through his own head. This poem is typical of the false impressions that city people have of one another.

“If I Could Learn ln Some Quite Casual Way” by Edna St. Vincent Millay is a moving poem about a woman riding in a subway, and while she looks at the back of the newspaper that is being held and read by someone across the aisle from her, she reads that her loved one has been killed. To keep from bursting into tears, the woman takes in the sights in the train station and then reads the human interest section of the newspaper. This poem suggests that the city has ways of helping people deal with the impossible.

“Husband and Wife” By Miriam Hershenson is a very short poem that paints a grim picture of a family sitting in a subway waiting for their transportation. The family does not communicate. Only one word has been uttered during the entire journey. This poem suggests that this family is a part of an urban setting where commuting and communication is very important, yet the family does not take full advantage of all the city has to offer them.

“Young Woman At A Window” by William Carlos Williams describes a woman who is sitting at a window crying. This woman has a child on her lap whose nose is pressed to the window pane. This poem makes the reader wonder why the woman is crying and why the child is not outside playing with other children.

“Mother To Son” by Langston Hughes does not specifically address itself to the city, but the experience the mother has had and the advice she gives her son is certainly the kind of advice a mother would give a son who has become disenchanted with school, work and life in general. A mother who has to rear a child in an area that is filled with crime, poverty, drugs and racism would certainly try to persuade her child to see life a little beyond the streets of their community.

“For My People” by Margaret Walker is truly a poem for and about black people everywhere. This poem vividly describes the labor black people have performed, the games black people have played and the faults of black people who throng “47th Street in Chicago,” “Lenox Avenue in New York,” and “Rampart Street in New Orleans.” The names of these streets could have been changed to the lower section of Dixwell Avenue in New Haven or Congress Avenue in New Haven and still the content of this poem would be relevant. The poem ends with a plea to black people to make positive changes in themselves as well as the world and community in which they live.

The last group of poems center around the theme of places. “Emma’s Store” by Dorothy Aldis compares and prefers the neighborhood store to the downtown department store. “Street Window” by Carl Sandburg describes a window of a pawnshop. Sandburg gives a detailed description of objects in the window.

“Incident” by Countee Cullen takes place in old Baltimore. The speaker in the poem recalls an incident from his childhood. While visiting relatives in Baltimore from May until December, the only thing the speaker can remember is a little white boy who poked out his tongue and called him “nigger.” This poem like “Richard Cory” deals with impressions. The students will learn that first impressions of people and cities do not always represent the truth.

After reading the section on poetry, the students will read two prose selections. The first selection is “The Wife of His Youth” by Charles Chestnutt. This story was selected because it reenforces what the students have learned about blacks who migrated to the North. This story shows how one black man chose to hide his slave past and assimilate into the life style of the North. From this reading the students will get a feeling for the type of jobs that were available to blacks during the development of the city. The students will learn how clubs were organized in cities and how these clubs united people of common interest and background.

The second prose selection will be The Autobiography of Malcolm X. The students will read the first nine chapters of the text. These chapters describe Malcom’s rural upbringing and his later experiences in northern cities. This book is extremely appropriate, since it deals with an individual’s personal experiences with poverty, crime, drugs and racism. Because this book is written in the first person, the students will be more at ease when it is time for them to write. They too will be able to write in the first person.

Next, the students will read two plays. The first play is entitled, Dino. The playwright, Reginald Rose, makes this an ethnic play that deals with the problems of an Italian family in the big city. The parents in this play are descendants of Italian immigrants, yet the children are so caught up in the struggle of city life that they lose touch with Italian tradition and values. This play will allow the students to see how other ethnic groups respond to crime, drugs, poverty and racism.

The second play that will be read is, A Day of Absence by Douglas Turner Ward. This play is a satirical fantasy that presents the black/ white issue. The blacks in a southern town decide to leave or disappear. The whites panic. Unsanitary conditions develop. The entire labor force ceases to function and the town becomes total chaos. The purpose of this play is to show how the success of a town or city depends on the skills of all types of people.

The third strategy I will use to motivate the students to produce their own urban literature will be a visual one. It is sometimes an onerous task for students to create mental pictures. Because these students have difficulty recalling the people, the houses, the stores, the playgrounds, the grassy and grassless parks, the old people, the colors and shapes of buildings, the smell of hallways etc., I will provide the students with photographs and slides that have been taken in and about New Haven. The students will recognize photographs and slides taken on Dixwell Avenue, in Goffe Street Park, on Edgewood Avenue and in Edgewood Park. Some of the pictures were taken on The Green and several of New Haven’s “Street People” will be recognized by the students. The students will produce prose and poetry around these visual aides. One of the student activities will result in a prose work similar to The Sweet Flypaper of Life by Roy Decarava and Langston Hughes. In this short book, the authors use a series of pictures and develop prose that relate to the pictures. The theme of this book is life in Harlem. The pictures and poems describe the ordinary people, children, open fire hydrants, men and women riding the subway, hard times, good times, etc. The Sweet Flypaper of Life will help students organize their ideas for a special project. The students will be required to use several personal photographs and develop a story about the pictures.

In the following section of this unit I will provide five sample lesson plans. The first lesson plan will coincide with “A Brief History of the American City and New Haven;” the second lesson plan will coincide with the poems that deal with l8th and l9th century America; the third lesson plan will coincide with The Autobiography of Malcolm X; the fourth lesson plan will coincide with Dino and the fifth lesson plan will coincide with the visual aid section of the unit.

Although the end result of these three strategies will be manifested in the students’ producing prose and poetry that reflect personal experiences and observations, the students may not necessarily have to follow all of the above steps before they are able to write effectively. These steps, however, will be followed so as to provide a continuous guide to expanding the students’ thoughts and perceptions of the city.

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Lesson Plan I


The city is not a modern occurrence. There have been cities since man learned to grow and transport food. The first cities developed in Egypt, Mesopotamia and India. The land was fertile and well-watered. The climate was dry.1

Trade, commerce, the manufacturing of goods and raw materials, the printing press, books and newspapers all contributed to the Industrial Revolution and the development of the American city. By the 19th century, canning, refrigeration, food preservation; the telephone, telegraph, radio and gasoline engine attracted hordes of people to urban areas.

The colonists were mainly agriculturist, yet many felt comfortable with town life. Therefore, many colonists flocked to towns for companionship, mutual protection as well as economic reasons. An area was considered urbanized if 2,500 people resided in it. In these small urban areas common concerns occurred which involved fire protection, street care, crime prevention, sewage disposal, water and community health.2 The city became a place where men found a variety of outlets for their special talents. The city also became a cultural center. The “Three R’s” were stressed and the greatest cultural contributions to the city were: art museums, public libraries, publishing houses, art schools and conservatories of music. Benjamin Franklin contributed to these cultural phenomenon and he took advantage of what the city had to offer. He became a printer, publisher, journalist, educator and scientist.3

Because cities like Boston, New York and Philadelphia were situated by large bodies of water, they became the forerunners in commerce, trade and culture. Other places such as Baltimore, Trenton, Hartford and New Haven, Raleigh and Charlotte; and Charlestown soon were to follow.

While the city attracted and fascinated hordes of immigrants and migrants, problems of social malajustment and human misery developed. New-comers had difficulty adjusting to the frenzied pace of urban life. One ethnic group was against another. These social problems caused the urban inhabitants to develop severe cases of nervousness and stress, which became known as the “national disease of America.”4

Now that we have general knowledge of the development of the city, we must understand how the city grows and changes. In order to understand the modern city, it is important to know how and why the population is drawn into a given area of an urban setting.

Segregation and specialization are two words that have been used synonymously to refer to areas where people of similar backgrounds live together. Often, these people feel compelled to cluster or gravitate because of the poverty/and or prejudice, race or cultural background. From this natural city occurrence, the following segregated areas developed in various American cities: Little Italy, Chinatown, Nob Hill, The Black Belt, and The Wrong Side of the Tracks.

These neighborhoods do not remain intact. They change when they are invaded by business, racial and/or cultural groups. The groups that invade these segregated areas are often economically inferior.5 Two examples of areas that changed, racially, economically, and culturally in the 1920’s are Harlem and Chicago. Harlem changed from an area of affluent Jews to poor, but aggressive blacks. Chicago was inhabited by Czechs, Jews, Italians and blacks.6

A sociologist, Ernest W. Burgess, observed that the city is divided into several zones or sections. The first zone was once the residence of upper class people who lived in mansions. These mansions, because of invasion, have been converted into cheap tenements, hotels, pawnshops and stores. The neighborhood has a high crime rate. There is much poverty, juvenile delinquency and mental disorder. The owners of these buildings are negligent. They continue to hold on to the property in hopes that the city will buy it from them at a good price. Alvin Toffler, the author of Future Shock describes the various vacant city lots in which portable playgrounds have been constructed so as to make the neighborhood think the city is doing something to provide the children with a safe place to play. But in reality, these portable playgrounds are placed on vacant lots until the owners or city planners can decide what to do with them. Meanwhile, the poor continue to have inadequate housing and the children continue to play in unsafe playgrounds.

The second zone consists of deteriorated housing inhabited by poor immigrants and migrants. This area has a mixture of poor Southern whites, blacks and Puerto Ricans. Toffler describes such an area. He says that the youths are robbed of adult role models. Other than their parents, who often provide a weak family bond, these children depend on their peers for comfort and support.

The third zone consists of the blue collar workers who live in a slightly better environment. The fourth zone consists of the middle class area where apartments and housing, lawns and porches are visible.7

New Haven became a major center of industry in the late 1800’s. Eli Whitney had instituted in the early 19th century the first factory that used interchangeable parts in its gunshop. Other small factories in New Haven produced such goods as paper, clocks, cigars, hardware, corsets, men’s clothing, razor blades, bathing suits, etc. The Winchester Arms Plant employed the largest number of people. By the latter part of the 1900’s, the population of New Haven had reached 100,000.8

The fact that Yale University attracted the sons and daughters of affluent men home and abroad seems to have contributed to the cultural development and success of the city. But by 1951, New Haven neighborhoods, predominately occupied by poor blacks and Hispanics and other immigrants, had begun to deteriorate. One politician, after a door to door campaign effort, describes a tenement on Oak Street. He said that the tenement smelled so badly that he became ill. The building had no electricity or gas. It had a kerosene lamp, but the light of day had never seen the corridors of the building. From this experience, the politician vowed to renew this section of the city if he were elected.

In 1962, the Federal Government gave large sums of money to urban planning agencies to try to find new ways to overcome poverty.9 This was the beginning of community schools such as Lee High, which was named after Richard C. Lee, the mayor who worked to remodel New Haven. Mayor Lee was instrumental in the development of downtown New Haven. The construction of Edward Malley and Macy’s was intended to bring shoppers with money back into the city.

While ideas of urban renewal seemed promising, a long list of urban difficulties arose in New Haven. A demand for labor increased which led to an influx of blacks. These blacks gravitated to Newhallville and Dixwell Avenue sections of New Haven. This influx of blacks led to the flight of whites to the suburbs. The blacks that migrated to the city had little or no education. They could only find poor-paying jobs which did not allow them to contribute much to the maintenance of the city in the form of taxes. Even though blacks and other migrants and immigrants contributed little to the city, they needed many city services. They needed health care, welfare and special education programs.

The “white flight” or exodus in the early 1960’s left the city tremendously weak. Other groups that contributed to the change of the city were the Italians that clustered in Fair Haven and the Jews that gravitated to Westville.10

The 1970-1980 census shows that still a substantial number of whites have moved out of New Haven. New Haven lost 8.4% of its population, declining to 126,109 in 1980 from 137,707 in 1970. The number of whites that lived in New Haven in 1970 was 99,986 and declined 21.6% to 78,326 in 1980. The number of blacks increased from 36,158 in 1970 to 40,235 in 1980. The number of Hispanics expanded from 4,717 in 1970 to 10,042 in 1980.11

While statistics continue to show an influx of blacks, Hispanics and other minority groups to New Haven, economic statistics continue to indicate a steady decrease in the economic strength of the city. Poor people become poorer and old housing, in need of city renewal, sits deteriorating and waiting to be destroyed by pyro-maniacs.

Alan Trachtenberg, a professor of American Studies at Yale University, says that cities of all sizes have problems of poverty, race relations, drugs, crime and violence.12 Professor Trachtenberg believes that this grim picture of the city is one-sided, for the city can be pleasureable and the city has opportunities that rural areas lack.

VOCABULARY The students will spell these terms with 100% accuracy. They will define each term in accordance to its use in context. The students will also use the terms in good sentences. The sentences must relate to the content of the history.

specialization maladjustment
commerce American Revolution
segregation urbanization
frenzied cultural center
culture urban renewal
zone white flight
THOUGHT QUESTION (The following is a question in which the answer is expected to be developed in several well-constructed paragraphs.)

Because the colonists became accustomed to the conveniences of town life, what were some of the advantages and disadvantages of “clustering”?


1. The students will trace the history of one American city and compare it to New Haven.
2. The students will trace the history of one ancient city and compare it to a modern American city.


Indiaearly Rome

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VOCABULARY (Same procedure) “Mannahatta”

aboriginal immigrants
sufficient hauling
superb mechanics
splendidly Trottoirs
ample vehicle
currents hospitality
adjoining courageous
spires masts

1. What is the origin of Mannahatta?
2. What lets you know that this poem was written in the 1850’s?
3. Does the poet despise city life? Explain.
VOCABULARY (Same) “Chicago”

wanton destiny
sneer ignorant
coarse cunning


1. What does the poet admire about Chicago?
2. How does the poet handle criticism of Chicago?
VOCABULARY (Same) “The City”

ditty initially
sentimentalist vaccination
artificial civilization
caucet stoically
querulous queasy


1. After the students have read these poems and discussed the positive and negative aspects of city life as told by Sandburg, Nash and Shapiro, they will make a list of positive and negative aspects of New Haven. The students will then defend or argue to end the existence of New Haven.
2. The students will collect newspaper articles that deal with various dimensions of life in New Haven. From these articles, the students will extract ideas from which to write a poem. For example, an article that discusses the problem of bulk trash being left out on New Haven streets can lend itself to a very interesting poem that deals with rodents, unsanitary conditions and health hazards. Another example of an article that lends itself to poetry writing is, “Many Whites in State leaving cities, census shows.” The students can draw a lot of conclusions in this article just from reading the statistics concerning ethnic groups in New Haven.
3. The students will also try their hand at using specific poetic forms: the Haiku, the rhyme and the limerick. The theme for these specific poetic forms may come from articles or the students may contribute the theme.

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reformatory psychiatrist
smoldering frustration
tenement unequipped
inadequate simultaneously
distortion obvious
illusory uninhabitedly

The questions concerning this play will be taken directly from the text, Eight American Ethnic Plays.


1. The students will write prose and poetry that expresses the problems that an Italian American family has in adjusting to the city.
2. The students will discuss and develop prose that deal with their own family’s method of coping with situations that are related to city life. The students will be reminded to include conversations that they have heard their parents have that are similar to “Mother To Son.”

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VOCABULARY The Autobiography of Malcolm X

Since this selection is lengthy and the difficulty of the vocabulary will vary with each student, the students will be required to keep a vocabulary for each chapter up to and including chapter nine. I will collect each students’ chapter list and make a class list. The students will be tested on the class list.


1. Draw a family tree that includes all the members of Malcolm’s family. Give a synopsis of each family member.
2. When and why does Malcolm make the transition from Omaha to Michigan to Boston?
3. What impressions did Malcolm have of the city and its people?
4. Why was Malcolm attracted to Shorty and the downtown area of Boston?
5. Did the city prove to be a positive or negative experience for Malcolm?

1. The students will make a family tree of their own family. They will include as many relatives as they can with the aid of family members. Then the students will develop the character of one or two of the members who came from the South and settled in New Haven. The students will develop their characters in prose form.
2. In the first person narrative the students will write a story about themselves. They will include in this narrative:
____a. What they were told they were like as an infant and young child.
____b. The type of student he/she was.
____c. How a teacher, classmate, or another individual effected his/her thinking or behavior.
____d. What family stories were told about him/her.
____e. What ties he/she has with family in the South.
____f. How his/her present personality is effected by the past or present.

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“Slides” and “Photographs”

The students will produce prose and poetry from the photographs and slides taken in and about New Haven. The visual aids represent New Haven neighborhoods, Edgewood Park, Goffe Street Park, People in New Haven, Monuments and Statues in New Haven, Long Wharf, buildings, construction, etc.

Like an artist who uses subjects to help him create images on canvas, the students will use these visual aids to paint pictures with words. The efforts of this assignment will result in the production of a literary work much like The Sweet Flypaper of Life.

*At the end of this unit the students’ work will be placed on display for school-wide viewing. The students will also submit their writings to the school literary magazine.

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1. John Biesanz and Mavis Biesanz, Modern Society (Englewood Cliff: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968), p. 116.
2. Paul Kramer and Frederick L. Holborn, The City in American Life (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1970), pp. 13-36.
3. Ibid., p. 19.
4. Ray Ginger, Modern American Cities (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1969), p. 7.
5. Biesanz, p. 119.
6. Biesanz, p. 120.
7. William Lee Miller, The Fifteenth Ward and the Great Society (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1966, p. X).
8. Miller, XIV.
9. Miller, XVII.
10. Miller, XXI.
11. Jacqueline Duke, “Many Whites in State Leaving Cities, Census Shows,” New Haven Register, June 3, 1981, section A, p. 1.
12. Alan Trachtenberg, The City/American Experience. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971), p. VII.

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Annotated Teacher Bibliography

Barksdale, Richard and Kenneth Kinnamon. Black Writers of America: A Comprehensive Anthology.

This text includes “Wife of His Youth,” “Mother To Son” and “Incident.”

Biesanz, John and Mavis Biesanz. Modern Society. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.

This text has a good section on how cities are zoned.

DeCarava, Ray and Langston Hughes. The Sweet Flypaper of Life. New York: Hill and Wang, 1955.

This book describes in words and pictures the various dimensions of life in Harlem.

Duke, Jacqueline. “Many whites in state leaving cities, census shows,” New Haven Register, June 3, 1981, Sec. A, p. 1.

This article includes census statistics on city changing population from 1970-1980.

Fair, Ronald L. Many Thousand Gone, New York: Bantam Books, Inc., 1965.

The setting of this book is in rural Mississippi. Blacks are still being enslaved long after the emancipation. A few blacks are able to sneak to Chicago to live. When these blacks try to communicate to their relatives in Mississippi about the opportunities in Chicago, the white postmaster and sheriff of the county become outraged. The blacks become restless when they learn that blacks up North live much better than black in the South.

Ginger, Ray. Modern American Cities. Chicago: Quadrangle Press, 1969.

This book has good chapters on ethnic struggles in cities.

Gutman, Herbert G. The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom 1750-1925. New York: Vintage Books, 1976.

This book discusses the Buffalo, New York, black community by examining the New York State census of 1855-1875 and 1905-1925.

Haley, Alex The Autobiography of Malcom X. New York: Grove Press,

Inc., 1965.

The first nine chapters of this book are about Malcolm’s urbringing in Omaha, then Michigan and the transition he makes when he moves to Boston.

Holborn, Frederick L. and Kramer, Paul. The City in American Life. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1970.

This text has good chapters on development of American cities and common problems that urban dwellers share.

Jones, Leroy. Blues People. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1963.

This is the story of how blacks tried to become a part of the American mainstream. This story is told through the history of Negro music.

Lazarus, Bill. “It Takes 100 Family Members to Celebrate One Anniversary.” The New Haven Register, June 22, 1981, Sec. B, p. 7.

This article shows how one individual migrated to the North looking for work.

Miller, Lee William. The Fifteenth Ward and the Great Society. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1966.

This book includes good introduction on New Haven neighborhoods, industry, and urban renewal.

Morrison, Toni. Tarbaby. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1981.

Tarbaby includes a vivid description of black girls in New York City—Chapter 7.

———. Sula. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1973.

The first chapter describes the changes made to a small town by urbanization.

———. Song of Solomon. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977.

This book shows how a brother and sister migrate to the North, raise a family, become grandparents, yet keep their ties with the South and family tradition.

Rockowitz, Murray and Milton Kaplan. The World of Poetry. New York: Globe Book Company, 1965.

This text includes poems by Whitman, Sandburg and Nash.

Toffler, Alvin. Future Shock. New York: Bantam Books, 1970.

This book includes a section on public playgrounds and the youth Ghetto.

Trachtenberg, Alan, Peter Neill and Peter Bunnell. The City/American Experience. New York: Oxford University Press, 1971.

This text has a good introduction that presents a positive image of the city. Includes photographs, poems and prose.

Strafford, William T. Twentieth Century American Writers. New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1965.

This text includes “Richard Cory” and “If I Should Learn in Some Quite Casual Way.”

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Student Bibliography

Griffith, Francis and Joseph Mersand. Eight American Ethnic Plays. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1974.

This text includes “Dino” and “The Day of Absence.”

Haley, Alex. The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

(See Teachers’ Bibliography for Annotation.)

Larrick, Nancy. On City Streets. New York: Bantam Pathfinder, 1968.

This text includes poems by Aldis, Bacon, Corso, Field, Hershenson, Hubbell, Hughes, Lenski, March, McGinley, Prideaux, Sandburg, Williams.

Student Materials

Photographs Themes

1-6 New Haven Neighborhoods

7-12 Edgewood Park

13-20 Downtown New Haven Buildings

21-31 People in New Haven

32-34 Statues in New Haven


Scenes from:

—Congress Avenue

—Ashmun Street
—Top of East Rock Park Overlooking New Haven
—Lee High School
—Teletrack Night Club
—Downtown Vendor
—Art Exhibit
—Children at Play
—Yale-New Haven Hospital under Construction
—Trash in the Street
—I-95/Connecticut Turnpike
*All of these visual aids were taken between the months of March and July; therefore, the outdoor scenes represent activities or conditions indicative of fair to good weather. I will continue to take pictures as the seasons and outdoor scenes change.

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