Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute Home

Changing Times Here and Now

Cynthia H. Roberts

Contents of Curriculum Unit 98.04.09:

To Guide Entry

Working with Special Education student in grades 9 - 12, I am always in search of new ideas to use with them. In writing this unit, it is my purpose to interest, motivate and stimulate my students in what they are learning.

In writing this unit, I want to provide students with an integrated examination of black politics and American politics at the National, State and Local levels of the political system. I want to show the relationship between black politics and American National government and politics.

I will examine the character, magnitude and impact of black politics from the early 1800’s to the present day. The following questions will be askedare blacks becoming and important part of the institutions of American National government and politics? What are the results of blacks’ emphasis on political participation as the primary strategy for group enhancement?

The 1800’s to the present day brought about a dramatic change for African Americans. Students will be able to read, research and learn important facts that help to bring about the African American role in government and politics.

to top


African Americans play significant roles in American politics and government. African American officials are now involved in politics from the International to the local level. The slave system and a lack of organization among free African Americans limited political and governmental activity before the Civil War, and even after the emancipation, black people had to struggle to obtain political rights. The African American fight for Civil Rights help to inspired other groups, including women and native Americans, to seek social equality and to use tactics similar to those of the Civil Rights Movement.

In 1865, Congress passed and the states ratified the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, officially abolishing slavery. With the end of slavery, African Americans could believe more fully in the Declaration of Independence, which declared that all men are created equal. African Americans took a leading role in Reconstruction politics of the South. The Southern states, however, immediately began enacting legislation, called Black Codes aimed at restricting the freedom of African Americans and curtailing their geographical mobility. Congress, in response to the South’s actions, passed the Fortieth Amendment to the Constitution in 1866 and ratified it in 1868. This Amendment extended citizenship and protection of Civil Rights to African Americans. In

1867, Congress instituted the Reconstruction Act, which was designed to rebuild the South and prepare it for a reintroduction in United Stated politics. The principal consequences of the act on the South and on African Americans were the military occupation by the United States Army and a demand that Southern states revise their state constitutions to ensure equal opportunity for African Americans before applying for re-admittance to the union.

During Reconstruction Africans participated in politics and government at levels that are surprising, given the fact that slavery existed less than a decade earlier. More than a thousand African Americans served in local and state offices during the 1870’s.

Elected African American officials represented a broad spectrum of post-emancipation African Americans. Several were freedmen before the Civil War, were literate, and owned property. The first twenty African Americans to serve in the United States House of Representatives were seated beginning in 1869. There were eight from South Carolina, four from North Carolina, three from Alabama and one from Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, and Virginia.

African Americans were more numerous in state legislatures. For example, in the early 1870’s there were eighty-seven African Americans in the South Carolina legislature as opposed to forty whites. The state had two African American lieutenant governors, Alonza Ransier (1870) and Richard Gleaves (1872), and Robert Elliott ((1874). Francis Cardozo was secretary of state from 1868 to 1872 and treasurer from 1872 to 1876. Between 1868 and 1896, Louisian had 133 African American members in its legislature. Oscar Dunn, C. C. Antoine, and P.B.S. Pinchback served as lieutenant governors, with Pinchback serving as acting governor for forty-three days in 1873. African Americans received nearly as much representation in some other states.

At the same time, the movement in the South to prevent African Americans from voting and participating in most areas of society continued to gain momentum. The 1890’s had erected a complete system of legal segregation erected in the South. In 1896, the United Stated Supreme Court ruling in Plessy V. Ferguson established the doctrine of separated but equal.

African American protests against the Jim Crow Laws were suppressed. Political participation and activity within the government fell to African American organizations that sprang up around the turn of the Century. One notable organization was the Niagara Movement. Many Africans Americans in the Early 1900’s favored using political rights to end racial segregation in the South. African American leaders met and formed the Niagara Movement in 1905 to assist in advancing this position. The Niagara Movement, with the help of several prominent whites, evolved into the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1910.

Presidential appointments continued to be the primary route to service in the federal government. Some of the African American appointees were T. Thomas Fortune, appointed to a special commission to investigate conditions in the United States insular possessions, and William Henry Lewis, as assistant United States attorney for Massachusetts both were appointed by Theodore Roosevelt.

Part of the African American response to restrictive Southern politics was to move to the North. A substantial number of African Americans chose emigration as a way to participate more fully in the American system. The move North presented another type of problem: How to get involved in political processes that had come to be dominated by European immigrant groups. Much of the success or failure had to do with the degree to which a political machine existed. Chicago, for example, had a political machine in which deals with the local political boss could result in political favors. Since African American was concentrated in one area, one such boss could be relied upon to deliver the bloc vote. The Republican machine in Chicago eventually backed African American Oscar Depriest, who was elected to the city council 1915. African Americans in Chicago were able to secure jobs and other amenities through Depriest and the Chicago machine however, their power was very limited.

Depriest was elected to Congress in 1928, making him the first African American elected to Congress since George White of North Carolina left in 1901. William Dawson, another African American from Chicago, began building and African American political machine in Chicago during the 1930’s that made possible the election of Arthur Mitchell to Congress in 1934. African Americans elected Edward Johnson in 1917 to the state assembly. He was the only black elected official to come out of the New York political machine.

By the 1920’s, African Americans were growing disenchanted with the direction of politics. The most vocal criticism was directed at the Republican Party, which continued to be the party of choice for most African Americans A. Phillip Randolph was one of the most vocal critics of political allegiance to the Republican Party; another was DuBois

Their basic position was that if African American were going to give their vote to a party they should get something in return. The Democratic candidate for president, John Davis, promised that if elected he would make no distinctions on the basis of race, creed, or color. In addition, African American Republican leaders in the South were becoming dissatisfied with the Republican Party because of party efforts to shift conservative voters. These efforts had the effect of undermining African American influence on the Republicans. By 1936, the majority of African Americans had switched to the Democratic Party mostly due to the New Deal.

The New Deal Era to the End of World War II

Franklin Delano Roosevelt won the Presidency in 1932 running on a reform platform. African Americans were major beneficiaries of his New Deal programs. In addition, the African American political strategy after 1930 began paying off, and an increasing number of African Americans secured seats in state legislatures in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Dubois and other African American leaders had urged that African Americans focus on local and state elections because of the difficulty of winning at the federal level. By 1946, thirty African Americans were in the legislatures of ten states.

By 1936, the Republican Party had ceased to be viewed by African Americans as the sole party that could assist in advancing their interests. Roosevelt, the Democratic president, showed sympathy to the African American situation. By the second term, Roosevelt had appointed more than forty African American federal officials. President Roosevelt had what was considered to be an unelected African American cabinet makes up of nonpolitical advisers.

Despite Roosevelt’s appointments, there was continued dissatisfaction among many segments of the African American population.

In 1936, the Democratic National Convention had its first African American delegates. Arthur Mitchell, the first African American Democratic Congressman, gave the welcoming address to the convention. African Americans were emerging as important voting blocs in major northern industrial cities. There was a growing militancy in the African American community in the 1930’s and 1940’s that stimulated leaders of Civil Rights organizations to rethink their strategies and tactics. Some of the best-known African American attorneys, such as William Hastie, the first African American federal judge, and Thurgood Marshall, the first African Supreme Court Justice, gained much of their experience through these cases.

The NAACP also was winning a large number of cases related to education, voting, and housing discrimination. These victories, combined with the experiences of World War II, encouraged participation in government and politics. In addition, returning servicemen, having fought for the United States were more aggressive in their demands for equal rights.

The Post-World War II period ushered in major changes not he American political scene for African Americans. President Harry S. Truman formed a committee in 1946 to look into the status of Civil Rights in American and make recommendations for dealing with problems related to this area. In 1948, the year of these decisions, there were six African American City councilmen in the United States. There also were thirty-three

black members of state legislatures. There were two African American Congressmen and numerous African American judges and magistrates. Truman named W.E.B. Dubois, Walter White, Mordecai Johnson, and Mary Mcleod Bethune as delegates to the United Nations, thus linking African Americans with international politics. Ralph Bunche went to the United Nations as a delegate from the State Department and became director of the United Nations Trusteeship Council. Bunche went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950 for serving as the United Nations mediator in the dispute over Palestine.

African American entered the 1950’s with confidence and strength in their belief in the ability to use the political system to better the plight of all people being denied basic Civil and political rights, particularly African Americans. This optimism was buoyed by events such as a trend toward appointing African Americans to a wider range of political positions and the Supreme Court’s 1954 landmark decision on School Desegregation in Brown V. Board of Education.

By the time John F. Kennedy assumed the presidency in 1960, African Americans were in the process of launching an all-out assault on injustices in the American political system, especially in the South. African American political demands on Kennedy were effective because African Americans overwhelmingly had supported and voted for Kennedy in what turned out to be a narrow victory for the president. Kennedy rewarded that Black support by appointing several African Americans to high government positions. Thurgood Marshall was appointed as judge of the Second Circuit, Wade McCree was named to the District Court for Eastern Michigan, Clifton Wharton, Sr., was appointed as ambassador to Norway, Mercer Cook was tapped to be ambassador to Niger, and Carl Rowan was named deputy assistant secretary of state.

A crucial and critical part of African American political participation in the early 1960’s war protest, in the form of demonstrations, sit-ins, and marches.

Part of African American political strategy in the early 1960’s was massive voter registration of previously disfranchised African Americans in the South. This strategy played a large role in the future election of numerous African American officials. A coalition of African American groups that included the NAACP, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the National Urban League formed the Voter Education Project in 1962 in a Coordinate Voter Registration.

The mid-1960 saw the rise of black power as a political cry and tactic. One of the most outspoken proponents of black power was Stokeley Carmichael, who found the old partisan and coalition politics to be bankrupt. Carmichael called for African Americans to control their own economic and political destinies by focusing all their attention on developing their own communities.

1970’s To the Present

The 1970’s were a period of gains for African American elected officials. In 1966, there were no African American mayors of major cities. It was not until 1969 that the first African American since Reconstruction, Howard Lee in Chapel Hill, N.C., was elected mayor of a Southern city. In Cleveland, Ohio in 1967 the African American community, along with a significant portion of white voters, succeeded in making Carl Stokes the first African American to be elected mayor of a major city. By the mid-1970’s African Americans were mayors in several large cities, including Los Angeles, Newark, and Cleveland, and in several small southern cities.

The 1980’s were electing African Americans elected to public office at a record pace. African American presidential appointments continued, and more African Americans were elected in districts with white majorities and in races with nonracial campaign issues. For example, Douglass Wilder was elected in 1989 as the governor of Virginia, making him the first elected African American governor in the history of the United Stated. Wilder could not have won without the support of white voters.

The 1980’s showed signs of a new move by African Americans into the Republican Party and into conservative politics in general. This seemed to signal a new sophistication among African American voters and political participants. Not only were African American voters and politicians being elected at the state and local level on nonracial platform, but they also were running as both Democrats and Republicans.

African Americans made great strides in political representation in the 1980’s and 1990’s. When the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965, it was estimated that there were fewer than five hundred African American elected officials in the United States. In 1970, there were 1,469 African American officials, by July 1980, there were 4,912. In 1970, there were ten African Americans in the United Stated Congress, although one senator, republican Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, lost his seat. By 1990 the proportion had risen to more than 50 percent. These statistics illustrate the growing participation by African Americans in politics and government of the United States.

The 1992 elections showed great gains for African Americans as well as for other minorities. The number of black members of Congress rose to thirty -eight from twenty-five as a reset of those elections, and Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois became the first black woman elected to the Senate. The voter support shown for minority candidates played a role in encouraging his choices for cabinet positions.

The History of African American relationships with politics and government is weighed toward the fight for social, economic, and political equality. The concerns of African Americans are similar to those expressed by women, the disabled, and other minority groups, and all these groups are sharing the victories of the Civil Rights Movement. African Americans have served the United States government well despite setbacks. Their contributions are interwoven into the fabric of politics and government of the United States.

Famous political figures will be discussed with a view to wards the context. Throughout these readings, we will attempt to focus upon the author’s life and works, individual strengths, the role each played and the struggle each individual had to overcome. Although this unit will be most responsive to the African American students, all students will have something to gain from the context.

This unit will give students an opportunity to gain a more personal understanding and appreciation of the African American political figures that help to shaped the History of America.

This unit will be taught over a 12-week period two to three 48-minute classes per week. This unit will be divided into three general areas: One will have a Historical Approach, and Secondly, a personal profile of government, state and local officials, in the third, students will read, identify, research and evaluate novels written by famous individuals.

The cognitive component of this unit, is designed to increase the students ability to conceptualize and generalize about political and governmental related events. The affective component is designed to help students analyze and clarify their attitudes and feelings related to race.

In the following section, students will have the opportunity to read, write and research information on American political figures that made a difference in United States History.

The African American Historical experience was forged in the crucible of struggle but it is more, than merely the recorded History of that struggle. It is also the story of the transcendence and triumph of the human spirit, of remarkable men and women who challenged myths and misconceptions, hurdled barriers, blazed trails, invented, created, transformed, and reinvigorated our common culture and, in the process, refashioned our common American heritage.

to top


Government Officials

Frederick Douglass born in one of the darkest periods of slavery on a plantation owned by Colonel Lloyd of Talbot county, Maryland, the white man who raped his mother. When Douglass was an infant, he was snatched from his mother and put under his grandmother’s care.

At the age of eight, two years after his mother died at a neighboring estate, young Douglass was sent to live with the Aued family, where his life’s ambition to learn how to read was fulfilled. Not knowing it was against the law, Mrs. Aued gave him reading lessons. Her husband scolded her when he found out, causing her to stop her literacy crusade.

After a series of severe thrashings for fighting and organizing save revolts, 21 year old Douglass plotted his escape. He somehow got hold of a sailor’s uniform and a passport and climbed on a ship and sailed.

Frederick Douglass was the most famous of all anti-slavery orators, and the most effective. He challenged liberals and conservatives to accept the rights of blacks to defend themselves with or without anyone else’s help.

In the years that spanned the abolitionist movement, Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Post-Reconstruction period, Douglass championed the cause of all oppressed people. The rocklike Douglass’s preeminence as race leader was to persist until his death in 1895.

In his words and deeds, Douglass challenged liberals, shoo thought they were empowered by God to enslave black people. He fought both whites and blacks that thought his verse did not fit into the commonly held notions of what black men should be and say.

In 1845, he published his first autobiography, narrative of, The Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, which put slavers on his track after the book had huge sales and subsequent controversy.

Douglass went to Rochester, New York, and started his anti-slavery paper, the North Star, and later Frederick Douglass paper. He wrote his second autobiography My Bondage and My Freedom, in 1855.

In essence, Douglass challenged himself and his people to be all they could be and not let any obstacle stand in their way. He taught everyone that freedom is never free it comes with struggle.

Richard Arrington Jr. For many, it was a symbol of the South’s political transformation when in 1979 councilman Richard Arrington, Jr. was elected mayor of Birmingham, Alabama. Just 16 years earlier, white police and firemen had turned fire hoses and attack dogs on Civil Rights demonstrators. Now a black educator with a doctorate in zoology was running city hall.

Born in Sumter County, Alabama, Arrington moved to Birmingham with his family as a child. During the city’s Civil Rights struggles he as attending graduate school in Oklahoma, but in the early 1970’s he was drawn into city politics, building a solid reputation by exposing police brutality. Arrington decided to run for mayor after a white Birmingham policeman shot and killed a young black woman.

Once in office, however, his biggest long-term challenge was to guide the city’s economic transformation away from making steel. By the mid-1980’s, with Arrington still mayor, communications companies in hinge-rise towers had taken the place of aging steel mills.

Coleman Young Detroit’s five-term major discovered his knack for politics in the 1940’s as a postal-union organizer. He rose quickly to become chairman of the National Negro Labor Council, an organization he helped to form. That position made him vulnerable t anti-Communist hysteria, however, and in 1952 Young was called before the House Un-American activities committee. Smeared with the “radical “ label, he spent several years scraping by in odd jobs.

In 1964, he makes a political comeback, winning election to the state legislature. Nine years later-just as foreign competition and an oil shortage plunged Detroit’s main industry earmarking into a free fall-he was elected mayor. Young did what he could to relieve the effects of the city economic decline, working closely with major employers and help to secure federal assistance for the Chrysler Corporation in 1977. His hiring of African American and female police officers reduced community tensions and helped cut crime. Young also pushed hard tour Urban renewal. June 1993, at the age of 75, Young announced his retirement after years as mayor. “I ‘d like to be remembered as a good mayor who gave all he had, “he said.

Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.Like his father, Connecticut-born Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., studied for the ministry. After seminary he became an associate pastor at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York, where he established and maintained a powerful black political base for three decades. The dynamic Powell organized picket lines in ghetto streets, demanded that Harlem’s white shop owners hire black employees, dial confronted white authority to seek justice and secure government services for his people, and in 1941 became the first black to serve on New York’s city council. Four years later he was elected to Congress. Throughout his long, successful congressional career, and after it, Powell took politics to the pulpit of Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church where he fervently preached black power, pride, and dignity.

Rejecting tokenism and stirring the racial consciousness of African American, he focuses on the use of economic force and political power to achieve equality.

Democratic representative from New York’s Eighteenth Congressional District from 1945. Served as chairman on the Labor and Education Committee until 1967. Commended by former President Johnson in 1966 for a “brilliant record of accomplishment” that had included passage of some 56 key bills under both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. For the last decade has been involved in a series of legal congressional tangles.

In 1967 his trouble began with Washington officials. On January 9, he was stripped of his chairmanship and the next day barred from taking his House seat pending an investigation of his “qualify-actions.” A select House committee, headed by Emanuel Celler, found he had misused congressional funds, acted contemptuously toward the New York courts in his libel suit, and kept his wife on the congressional payroll although she did not work in either his district or the District of Columbia as required by law. On March 1, 1967, following the committee’s report, the House voted 301 to 116 to exclude Powell from the Ninetieth Congress. He was re-elected from his district in November 1968, but did not present him for swearing in. Powell countered by taking his case to the Supreme Court, which on June 16, 1969 ruled that the House of had violated his constitutional rights. Representatives in excluding him from the Ninetieth Congress, but referred to a lower court the issue of Powell’s right to $55,000 back pay.

Freeman R. Bosley, Jr.In April 1993, Freeman R. Bosley, Jr. won a Landslide victory to become the first African American mayor of St. Louis, Missouri. In a city about Half white and half black, Bosley stressed the need for racial harmony throughout his campaign. Just as it takes the black and white keys of a piano to play “The star-spangled Banner, “he told his supporters on election night. It takes backs and whited and people of all race to make this city great.

Breaking barriers was nothing new for the 38 year-old politician: In 1982, he won election as the city’s first black circuit clerk. Now Bosley saw his victory as setting “a new direction” for the city. It also fulfilled a family dream. Bosley’s father, a St. Louis alderman, had run successfully for mayor eight years earlier.

W.E.B. Du Boisa native of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, W. E. B. Du Bois attended Fisk University before earning his Ph.D. at Harvard with a dissertation on the African slave trade. At a time when Social Darwinists were attempting to justify racism on scientific grounds (In The Negro: A Beast Charles Carroll, for one, set out to prove in 1900 that blacks were a lower class of animal), Du Bois argued that the struggle for equality was essentially ideological. To change society it was necessary first to change minds, he said, and in his ground breaking The Souls of Black Folk (1903), he revolutionized America’s habits of thought regarding race.

Du Bois may well have been this Century’s greatest black intellectual. His words and deeds, including helping to found the NAACP and editing its journal, the Crisis, have stood the test of time. He was a pioneer in sociology, history, and anthropology, and a major contributor to the Harlem Renaissance.

Du Bois had a universal outlook. He was concerned, as was Marcus Garvey, with the treatment of the darker people of other lands. In 1909 he began thinking of creating an “Encyclopedia Africana”.

Du Bois traveled to the Soviet Union in the 1930’s praising the communist nation as being virtually free of racial discrimination. Ironically, he left the communist party, which He joined much later in 1961, in America because he felt they discounted blacks with the Party’s insistence that class and not race was the problem.

Du Bois universal outlook led to him being one of the few influential African Americans associated with the founding of the United Nations.

Julian Bond Georgia state representative. His name was put in nomination for vice president at 1968 Democratic National Convention, but later withdrawn. Considered one of the most articulate and attractive moderate Negro voices, is a professed admirer of both Martin Luther King and Stokeley Carmichael. Believes emphasis should be on providing jobs and dividing power more equitably. Rather than on integration or Black Nationalism, “As power begins to be divided more quickly.” Has been critical of student radicals, black and white: “All they do is talk, but they never do anything.”

In 1965, at age 25, elected to Georgia State legislature for new seat created by Supreme Court decision on reapportionment. He and seven others were the first Negroes to be elected in 58 years. But by vote of 184-12, the house refused to permit him to take his seat, citing “disloyalty” in a statement by Bond in which he stated he admired draftcard burners. Bond, at the time an official of SNCC, also endorsed a SNCC statement opposing the Vietnam War. He resigned from SNCC in September 1966, for personal reasons,” and was reelected to the legislature in a special election in November 1966, but again denied his seat. On December 5, 1966, the Supreme Court ruled that the Georgia House of Representatives had violated Bon’s constitutional rights by excluding him, and he was sworn in on January 9, 1967. (Bond later explained that his draft-card statement had been widely misquoted, that he had stated that he would not burn his draft card, but he understood why people did burn theirs, and admired their courage in view of the known penalties.)

Born in 1940 in Pennsylvania, the son of educator H.M. Bond (currently dean of the University of Atlanta), attended a white Quaker private school near Lincoln University (where his father as then president). Later studied philosophy under Martin Luther King at Morehouse College but left during his senior year to work full-time for SNCC as communications director. Also worked as reporter and later managing editor of the Atlanta Inquirer. Married to the former Alice Clopton, four children.

Stokeley Carmichael Former chairman of SNCC and one of the most charismatic of the new breed of militant black leaders. First popularized the phrases “black power” during a voting rights march in June 1966. Carmichael asserted the phrase meant nothing more than “a way to help Negroes develop racial pride and use the ballot for education and economic development.” In his book Black Power: The politics of Liberation in America, which he wrote with Professor Charles V. Hamilton, he states “”the concept of Black Power rests on a fundamental premise: before a group can enter the open society, it must close ranks. By this we mean that group solidarity is necessary before a group can Operate effectively from a bargaining position of strength in a pluralistic society.” Carmichael broke with SNCC in May 1967. Officially expelled in August 1968 when the alliance between SNCC and the Black Panther party ended at a meeting of the two groups in New York City, SNCC leaders voted to terminate their relationship with Carmichael, who was then prime minister of the Panthers.

From May to December 1967, he went on a world tour, visiting Britain, Czechoslovakia, Cuba (for which the United States revoked his passport), North Vietnam, Algeria, Egypt, Syria, and Guinea. While in Havana, he was quoted as saying: “We must internationalize our struggle, and if we are going to turn into reality the words of Che (Guevara) to create two, three and more Vietnams, we must recognize that Detroit and New York are also Vietnam.”

Carmichael returned to the United States amid a storm of legislative protest. His passport was lifted and the justice department for preaching sedition initiated indictment proceedings against him. Carmichael settled in Washington, D.C. in 1968 and helped organize the Black United Front. He called a secret meeting of 100 black leaders representing some 20 organizations in Washington, D.C. on January 9, 1968 and formed the front to organize Negroes in the nation’s capital. He married South African singer Miriam Makeba in April 1968 and in the spring of 1969 they went to live in Conakry, Guinea. Carmichael publicly broke with the Black Panthers in July 1969, saying he could no longer support “the present tactics and methods which the party is using to coerce and force everyone to submit to its authority” and was denounced for his action by fellow Panther-in-exile Eldridge Cleaver.

However, Carmichael returned to the United States on March 18,1970, and declared that he intended to wage “a relentless struggle against the poison of drugs in the black community.” A few days later, on March 25, he was called before a closed session of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and questioned about his activities while abroad.

Carmichael was born in Trinidad, June 21, 1941. He moved to New York City at age 11, and grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood in the Bronx. Has a degree in philosophy from Howard University (1964).

The individuals in this unit, then, have more than embraced the African American dream of a better, more equitable world.

To establish a more actively political consciousness among African Americans and a more powerful racial image, Marcus Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association, Malcolm X advocate black Nationalism, W.E. B. Du Bois espoused Pan-Africanism, Martin Luther King redefined Civil Disobedience, and Zora Neale Hurston pleaded for Human unity. Strategies have varied as widely as the experience and ideology of the women and men who devised them. Even though these individuals mentioned in this unit has diverse individual stories, that all share a vision of justice.

Furthermore, while any single strategy may have effected but a small advance in its time, or even occasioned a major setback, every battle, march, rebellion, riot, protest, and outcry for that justice have made change possible.

Freedom, justice and equality have first to be imagined to be achieved. In vision lie the seeds of change and our social reality has in fact often proved to be altered by the dreams it would appear most adamantly to resist.

to top


Activity #1

Students will select one author of interest to research their life and works. Each student will find out as much as possible. SUGGESTIONS FOR RESEARCH:

The biographical sketch and the selection by the author.
An encyclopedia can provide basic facts.
One or two books that include criticism of the author can probably be found in the library.
Reading about the historical period in which the author lived by also help.
The group may divide responsibilities for conducting research on the author, assigning certain members to read specific books. Then the group as a whole will discuss what each person found their individual research.

Activity #2


Students will be responsible for correctly spelling and writing the definition for each vocabulary word.

1). Republican

2) Democrat

3) Politics

4) Political party

5) Justice

6). Government

7). Elect

8). Officials

9). Process.

10) registration

Activity #3

Students will choose which word or phrase shown on the right best explains the meaning of the word in Italics on the left.

1.reform to bring about peaceful change to overthrow

2.abolish do way with preserve

3.autobiography life story written by one’s self not a story

4.prohibition forbid completely allows

5.radical want complete change wants no change

to top


Students will select the correct word or phrase for each of the following questions:

1. Which of the following things did most reformers have in common? a) They came from the Middle class. b) They believed they had a special calling, c) they were interested in more than one cause. d) All of the above.

2. Which of the following was not an abolitionist? a) William Lloyd Garrison b) Frederick Douglass c) Angelina Grimke d) Andrew Jackson

3. Where was the first women’s rights convention held in America? a) New York City b) Seneca Falls c) New Orleans d) Boston

4. Who is remembered for work on behalf of the mentally ill? a) Edward Livingstone b) David Walker c) Sojourner Truth d) Dorothea Dix

Discussing the Important Ideas in this Chapter

1. Reformers usually thought of themselves as “special people” call upon to right certain wrongs. Do you agree?

to top


1). Role playing (Political figures)

2). Have students make a timeline illustrating famous political figures along with historical events that occurred during the same time period. (Group assignment)

3). Current Events (using daily newspapers to talk about local, state and National political figures in the news.

to top


Baker, Lucius J., ed. Black Electoral Politics. New Brunswick, N. J.: Tranaction Publishers, 1990. This volume focuses on attempts by African Americans to use electoral politics to achieve their political objectives.

Carmines, Edward G., and James A. Stimson, Of Issue Evolution: Race and the Transformation American Politics: Princeton, N. J. Princeton University Press, 1989. This book outlines the way racial voting patterns have changed over the last fifty years.

Henry, Charles P. Culture and African American Politics. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990. Uses solid scholarship to link black culture to political behavior.

Jennings, James. The Politics of Black Empowerment: Black the Transformation of Activism in Urban America. Detroit Wayne State University Press. 1992.

Discusses how black political activists are changing their tactics.

McCartney, John T. Black Power Ideologies: An Essay in African American Political Thought. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992.

Explains the ideas of black Power movement of the 1960’s and to place them in a historical context.

Turner, Glennette, Tilley. Take a Walk In Their Shoes: Biographies of Fourteen Outstanding African Americans. Illustration Elton C. Fox. New York Puffin Books, 1989.

Besides biographical material this book contains skits that the class could act out.

to top


Dudley, Karen. Great African Americans in Government. New York: Crabtree Publishing Company, 1997.

Of the thirteen contemporary politicians included six are women.

Duncan, Alice Faye. The National Civil Rights Museum Celebrates Everyday People. Photos by J. Gerard Smith. Troll Medallion, 1995.

This over size history of the Civil Rights Movement is a great supplemental source for student research.

Hacker, Carlotta. Great African Americans in History. New York: Crabtree Publishing Company, 1997.

Each of the thirteen biographies includes a personality profile and a table of accomplishments.

@Ref:Levine, Ellen. Freedom’s Children: Young Civil Rights Activists Tell Their Own Stories. Illustrations with photographs. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1993. People who were children during the 1950’s and 1960’s describe the Civil Rights Movement. Rochelle, Belinda. Witness to Freedom: Young People Whom Fought for Civil Rights. New York: Puffin Books, 1993.

This is a wealth of primary source material. Students who integrated in Little Rock’s Schools tell what it was like. Others tell about participating in sit-ins or a boycott.

Turner, Glennette, Tilley. Take a Walk in Their Shoes: Biographies of Fourteen Outstanding African Americans. Illustration Elton C. Fax. New York: Puffin Books, 1989.

Besides biographical material this book contains skits that the class could act out.

to top

Contents of 1998 Volume IV | Directory of Volumes | Index | Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute

© 2016 by the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute
Terms of Use Contact YNHTI