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Utilizing Art, Literature and Film to Teach Black History

Ms. Judith Dixon

Contents of Curriculum Unit 01.04.03:

To Guide Entry

I am a special education teacher at East Rock Global Magnet School. I teach in a fifth grade inclusion classroom. The curriculum is adapted to meet the academic needs required for special needs students. Literacy is the major focus in our school system. Literacy addresses reading, writing and speaking. In my unit the choices of literature will reflect the past and present issues in African American History. The children will read and discuss in creative ways what the author is trying to convey to the audience. Literacy is vital to a child's growth. It opens up a whole new world when they're able to read and be able to understand what they've read. I will center my literature on the Underground Railroad, Civil Rights Era, and the book entitled, Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges

There are discrepancies and a lack of factual information in regard to African American History. I will choose two or three movies, and let the children go beyond what was presented during these movies through reading additional literature and researching various topics presented. In order to better interpret the movie and gain a better understanding of race and ethnicity, my students will compare and contrast the information presented in the movie(s) versus non-fictional literature.

In fifth grade, the students are required to write all the time. They learn how to write expository essays. In order to address the speaking and writing aspects of literacy, I will introduce the students to various pieces of art, which depict African American Historical moments in history. They'll be introduced to Jacob Lawrence's pieces called, "The Migration Series" and "Harriet Tubman Series," along with Faith Ringgold's pieces on the Quilts. They will in turn write to explain what the piece of art means to them, and make an oral presentation to the class on their findings. They will create their own artwork, and try to collectively create a quilt of their own interpretation. The lessons I plan to create will teach them how the artist develops his/her paintings, and chooses textures and materials to be used on various backgrounds. These will include reading and writing lesson plans as well as hands on activities.

I will modify the methods that I learn in this seminar and teach them to my children. It will enable them to be better equipped to critique different forms of art, and to decipher the accuracy of the information presented.

In the past few years, the State and the New Haven School District have implemented standards that measure a student's performance. Teaching methodologies have been challenged. Teachers have had to change their teaching strategies. What once was the ideal method has become none existent. All students must take the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT). There are standards and objectives that must be covered in fifth grade.

What has occurred most often is that we score below state standards. Students need the exposure to many facets of learning , to a variety of people and places. Knowledge of the world around them will minimize the gaps of learning and application.

The unit will include the following sections:

I. Timeline History

A. American Revolution
B. Underground Railroad
C. Civil rights Movement
II. African American Media
A. Review of age appropriate videos relating to the Underground Railroad
B. Civil Rights Era
C. Present day life in the City - "Finding Forrester" Video
III. Literature
A. Explore the short stories of Faith Ringgold - Aunt Harriett's Underground Railroad in the Sky; Dinner At Aunt Connie's House
B. Explore the story - Freedom Crossing
C. Life story of Ruby Bridges
D. Present day life in the City - June Bug, Tar Beach
IV. Art
A. Explore and research works of Faith Ringgold
____1. Quilts
B. Explore the works of Jacob Lawrence
____1. Migration Series
____2. Harriet Tubman Series
*In collaboration with the Art Teacher - the students will learn about different types of paints and brushes used on various types of canvases or fabrics.

The following CMT objectives are included in this unit, as well as New Haven's District Standards.

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Reading Comprehension Framework

A. Forming an Initial Understanding
____1. Determine the main ideas (non-fiction) or theme (fiction) within a written work. (reworded)
____2. Identify or infer important character, setting, problems, events, relationships and details within a written work. (added to)
B. Developing an Interpretation
____1. The reader will interpret and/or explain the text, and connect the text to outside knowledge. (new)
____2. Make connections between the text and outside experiences and knowledge. (new)
C. Demonstrate a Critical Stance
____1. The reader will elaborate on the text and make judgments about the text's quality and themes. (reworded)
____2. Identify or infer important character, setting, problems, events, relationships and details within a written work (added to)

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Writing Objectives

Expository writing is taught at the fifth grade level.

Reasons are fully elaborated with specific details.

The papers show strong organization strategy, a progression of ideas and transitions.

The writing is fluent.

District Social Studies Standards - Grade 5

Content Standard 1.0 Diversity

Discuss the influence of migration and immigration of people into New Haven and Connecticut.

Content Standard 4.0 Economics

Explain how slavery influenced life in the colonies.

Content Standard 5.0 History

Demonstrate an understanding of major industrialization, migration, sub-urbanization and racial tension.

Historical Background American Revolution

In 1775, the colonists and Great Britain continued to have differences. The African Americans held great interest in the outcome of the dilemma. Many were enslaved and deeply desired personal freedom. The colonists wanted to break ties with Great Britain permanently. On April 19, 1775, the American Revolution began in Massachusetts. An African American named Peter Salem fought as a minuteman. He was a free man and allowed to fight. Along with him were Pomp Blackmon, Isaiah Bayoman and Cato Wood. The battles of Lexington and Concord were won. African Americans were in the thick of the Battle of Bunker Hill. An official Continental Army was formed under the leadership of George Washington.

Peter Salem and other African Americans fought in this army. Each colony was different. Some barred them from enlisting in the army. Eventually this changed. The British began to accept African Americans into their army. The colonists weren't happy with this, and the ban was lifted from the Continental Army. The war lasted for eight years.

Many contributions were made by both African American men and women. After the war, thousands left the U.S., and went with the British. Though others contributed to the war, many African Americans had to return to their plantations. The southern plantations owners strongly controlled the state governments, therefore slavery remained intact. The large plantations had a very lucrative business.

There was a man named Thomas Peters, who fought on the side of the British. After the war, he held the British accountable to the promises of freedom made to him and others. The British officials agreed after almost ten years. However, Thomas Peters had a new idea. He knew there was freedom in Africa. In 1792, approximately fifteen ships sailed from Canada to Sierra Leone, West Africa. There were eleven hundred people on board. They built a settlement called Freetown. Today, it is the capitol of Sierra Leone. For many though, the struggle would continue for the next one hundred plus years.

As a result of the war, many anti-slavery groups were formulated. Two gentlemen, Richard Allen and Absalom Jones, formed the first organized group in Philadelphia

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The Underground Railroad

Harriett Tubman stands out as the icon of the Underground Railroad. She was born into slavery about 1820. She feared being sold and separated from her husband. She escaped to Philadelphia in 1848. She returned approximately twenty times to the eastern shore of Maryland. She led more than three hundred runaway slaves to freedom preceding the Civil War. She finally settled in Saint Catherine's, Canada. During the war, she returned to the United States and served in the Union Army. Harriett Tubman was spy, nurse and a scout. She died in 1913 at the age of 93. Countless others both black and white, slaves, freed men and women risked their lives for the nations leading principles: the quest for freedom. Runaway slaves escaped to the North using a loose network of routes through the southern border states. Those who traveled east headed to places such as Philadelphia, New York and Boston. Others fled into Ohio, Illinois and Michigan. Some fugitives continued onto Canada. Slavery was outlawed in 1834 in Canada. On a small scale some fled south to Florida, Texas and even Mexico. Most fugitives traveled on foot at night, and hid in the woods and swamps along streams and rivers. All fugitives had stories to tell of their escape, but most of them didn't publicize what they had done. Two major routes extended from Kentucky to Virginia, across Ohio to the North, also from Maryland through Pennsylvania into New York or New England to Canada.

In 1793, the Fugitive Slave law was out into effect. Anyone who interfered with an arrest of a fugitive was fined $500.00. This was Congress's way of acknowledging the existence and power of the Underground Railroad. There isn't an accurate account of the number of runaways. Estimates are as low as 1,000 - 2,000 to a total of 100,000.

During the 1830's and continuing into the next decade, Washington D.C., was a very active part of the Underground Railroad. They established an aggressive network consisting of predominantly black leaders who held positions in white society. These positions were held in high esteem. They allowed thousands of slaves from the plantations bordering Virginia and Maryland to be led to freedom. The Washington Network was mostly blacks, who held positions in white society. They masked their illegal activities because of the positions they had.

Congress again passed a law. This was called "The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850." There were stricter consequences for those who broke law. The law violated many personal rights and the punishment was quite severe. The thirteenth amendment was approved in 1865 which was supposed to abolish slavery in the United States. In 1868 another law, 14th amendment, was passed that promised to protect all citizens. In 1870 the 15th amendment was passed which was suppose to give African American men the right to vote.

The tension between the southern and northern states grew stronger. The Underground Railroad activity increased after 1850. More whites joined the networks run by blacks. More funding became available. New stations and routes were established. Lawyers offered services to fugitives captured for aiding them. Blacks were settling along the eastern seaboard. There were a growing number of blacks, who developed their own separate communities. These communities were located in Philadelphia, New York and Boston. Self-reliance became the word in the community. Blacks also founded and supported their own newspapers. Four, in particular, were Freedom's Journal, North Star, The Colored American, and The Anglo-American. Black institutions and organizations fostered racial pride and identity. They became the center for leadership.

Frederick Douglass was one of the elite, and a veteran of the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad continued throughout the Civil War and into the Reconstruction Era.

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Lesson # 1

Social Studies/Reading Comprehension: Read Freedom Crossing along with teacher


1. The students will be able to identify the main characters and their roles in the story.
2. the student will be able to give the events of the story in sequential order.
The students along with the teacher will read. This should take approximately one week.

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Lesson # 2

Language Arts

Objective: The student will complete an essay.

Writing Prompt: Given the opportunity to make a slave's life better, what would you do?

Along with the teacher each student's essay will be edited and revised. Final essay to be put into student's writing portfolio.

Social Studies/Reading Comprehension

Objective: The students will be able to give information about the Underground Railroad and those who were an intricate part of the process.

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Lesson # 3

The students will read along with the teacher (3) short books. Approximately one week to complete assignment. Books to be read are: 1) Harriett Tubman, Conductor of the Underground Railroad by Ann Lane Petry; 2) Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter; 3) Aunt Harriett's Underground Railroad in the Sky by Faith Ringgold.

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Life Under Segregation

Some African Americans started challenging the existence of segregation in the 1800's. A gentleman by the name of Homer Plessy was arrested in 1892 for riding in the white section of a train in Louisiana. The case went to the Supreme Court. The court did not feel the Louisiana segregation laws in anyway violated the Constitution of the United States. Instead, the court ruled that blacks and whites were to have separate public accommodations, such as train cars, hotels, restaurants, and schools. The services offered to blacks were to be equal with whites. The decision of the case became a doctrine. This doctrine held up segregation laws for more than a half a century. Many African Americans could not handle the oppression the laws were creating. Individual states passed their own laws, especially in the south. The laws were called Black Codes. These codes denied African Americans their constitutional rights. If they were out of a job many were arrested for vagrancy. Fines were placed upon them which had to be paid. The fine was paid off by working for white families. This process did nothing but recreate slavery but on a smaller scale. Black codes kept the African Americans from owning or renting farms. They could only work as servants.

The segregation laws were also called Jim Crow laws. A man named Thomas "Daddy" Rice, would perform in various places depicting African Americans in a negative manner. He would perform in black face, projecting images of poor, lazy, and comical people. These images lead people to believe African Americans weren't fit enough to be treated as well as whites. It perpetuated negative stereotypes that whites had concerning them. The laws kept them apart from one another in their everyday lives. Everywhere you would see signs posted, Colored Only or Whites Only. White people then, never had to question their actions or prejudices.

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Migrating Time

Hundreds of African Americans moved up North to cities such as Chicago, Detroit, New York, and other major cities. However, the people in the north did not readily except them. The biggest problem came from the working lower class whites. They feared that African Americans migrating up north would take their jobs. Discrimination and unfair treatment were just as evident in the north as well as the south. They were also excluded from attending white schools, and living in white neighborhoods. This was the result of prejudice and the customs among whites. Most African Americans were forced to live in the poorest parts of the city. Real estate agents didn't take them in white areas to look at homes. The men and women who did wok weren't allowed to join the labor unions in order to obtain a better paying job.

The military also upheld the segregation laws. In the United States, during World War II, black soldiers fought side by side and died together. Jobs were created because of the war. Black women worked in factories and other jobs that were centered around the war.

After the war the perception of how whites viewed blacks did not change. The African American soldiers felt they had exhibited their patriotism, courage, and loyalty to America. Therefore they assumed they would be treated equally. Inequality and discrimination continued to exist.

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Legalized Segregation Ends

The term "separate but equal" was just a cover up. It was presented well and excepted as a written document, but the policy was never put into practice. The NAACP established its organization in 1909. There were two lawyers who worked for the organization, Thurgood Marshall and Charles Houston. In 1909 a well known reporter, William English Walling, wrote an article that told of the terrible riot that broke out inside a jail in Springfield, Illinois. An African American man was accused of shooting and killing a white police officer. The man was killed, hung and shot several times, inside the jail, before the case could ever go to trial.

Walling was deeply affected by the injustice he saw. He rallied together and issued a call from socialists, African American protest leaders and concerned citizens. Their purpose was to oppose the inequality and unfair treatment of African Americans. This began the organization, called the NAACP. The group was composed of blacks and whites. It began as an interracial organization. Some of the prominent founders were Joel Spingarn, Mary white Ovington, and Dr. W.E.B. DuBois.

In the 1930's they decided to take on an enormous task. They set out to prove that the separate but equal policy was quite the opposite. They traveled throughout the south documenting the conditions of the schools where African American children attended. Most of the schools were in deplorable condition. Most were made out of tarpaper formed into shacks. Others held school in very drafty log cabins. Supplies were scarce and many children had to walk a long way to school. The schools for the white children were housed in brick buildings, supplies were plentiful. Most of the schools were close to their homes.

After the information had been gathered, a legal suit began, fighting for equal rights in education for African American children. During this time, Charles Houston left the NAACP, Thurgood Marshall continued with the task. He won the case but the children were still segregated. In the 1950's, Mr. Marshall began to take a new stance. He argued that segregation was harmful to African American children. Segregation was dehumanizing and needed to be eliminated. The case involved Linda Brown, a seven year old girl who lived in Topeka, Kansas. Her home was close to the white school. The school she had to attend was far from her home. There was a railroad track she had to cross. She also had to ride on a rundown school bus. The Browns filed a lawsuit to allow their daughter to attend the white school near their home. The case was called Brown v. Board of Education. Deliberations lasted for a year and a half. Four other suits were also argued before the Supreme Court. On May 17, 1954 the case came to a close. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the children. Segregation in schools was now illegal. Schools were ordered in all states to desegregate or integrate. Much unrest continued about the court decision concerning schools being ordered to integrate. Approximately 450 new laws were put into effect in several states in the south. The strategy taken was to deliberately slow down the integration process.

In 1957 the Governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, openly defied the court ruling. Nine African American high school students, known as the Little Rock Nine, were prevented from entering the high school by the National Guard of Arkansas. Federal troops were called in by President Eisenhower to enforce the court decision and to ensure the safety of the students. Governor Faubus was an obstinate man; he closed all the schools instead of complying with the court order. The schools were closed for over a year. Finally in 1959, the Supreme Court ruled, forcing the schools to re-open. November 1960 the integration of schools became law.

The southern states resisted the changes that were evolving. African Americans continued to struggle for change. The civil rights movement became the main focus of the country, especially in the south.

December 1, 1955 marked a significant event that would change history forever. Mrs. Rosa Parks was going home on the bus as she did everyday. She sat in the white section of the bus because she was completed exhausted and fed up with the segregation laws. She was arrested for her stand toward injustice. A boycott began and continued for over a year. The purpose was to prevent public transportation from making any revenue. They did not ride the buses instead many walked to and from work. Those who had transportation gave rides to people. During this time Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. began speaking out to African Americans. He was strong in his convictions about injustice and being treated as an equal. He believed in non-violent protests.

On February 1, 1960, the first sit-in began. In Greensboro, North Carolina four college students sat in the White Only section lunch counter. Woolworth's became a hot spot. The sit-ins continued making the whites quite angry and hostile. The people poured food and drinks on those sitting at the counter. When one group left another one took their place. Threats of violent actions were stated to the protesters. The protests were always conducted in a civilized and non-violent manner. Protests expanded to white only swimming pools, movie theaters, department stores, and kneel-ins at all white churches. The KKK grew stronger, black leaders' lives were threatened on a daily basis. Churches were bombed, people were ambushed and murdered for opposing to their racist beliefs. In the same year the SNCC was founded by students in nine states. SNCC stands for Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.

Another organization called CORE, Congress for Racial Equality, was founded by James Farmer. In 1961, the CORE planned the Freedom Rides. These rides would test whether the states were following federal orders. There was to be no segregation on buses, in bus stations and restaurants. Both African Americans and Whites participated in the freedom rides. Unfortunately the first two freedom rides were sabotaged. The first was firebombed in Anniston, Alabama. The second group ran for their lives from an angry mob in Birmingham, Alabama. In the fall of 1961, the federal government upheld the rule against segregation on buses and in bus terminals. Over the next two years many demonstrations were held, especially in Birmingham, Alabama. Protesters were repeatedly arrested. Police used fire hoses and attack dogs to deter the protesters. Still the civil rights movement moved forward. President John F. Kennedy presented a civil rights bill in Congress, that would end segregation in all public places.

Dr. King Jr. felt that the government needed to really become aware of issues and laws that needed to be changed. The largest protest in history took place August 28, 1963. The March on Washington was held in Washington D.C. Two hundred fifty thousand people from everywhere attended. People came together both blacks and whites for one purpose. The demonstration lasted for only one day, but drew the attention of the entire nation. Racial equality was the number one priority.

The next campaign fought was in Selma, Alabama. The right for African Americans to vote was priority. The campaign gained national attention. Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965. On August 6, 1965 the Voting Rights Act became law. Both the Civil Rights and Voting Rights laws rescinded the Jim Crow laws and racial discrimination in the south.

However, five days after the Voting Rights Act became a law, much built up racial tension exploded in Los Angeles, California.

The rioting lasted four days. Approximately thirty-four people died, a thousand injuries occurred. Property damage was estimated at more than forty million dollars. People began to question the non-violent protests. They felt it did little to change the existing conditions. Prior to the riots, the SNCC became more militant. They began to become disheartened and lost trust in the effectiveness of civil rights movement. The SNCC elected a new leader, Stokeley Carmichael. He definitely had a militant approach. Black power became the main focus among the African Americans, especially college students, and young civil rights workers. During the 60's the emergence of the Nation of Islam in the north grew rapidly. Malcolm X became the pivotal leader of the Nation of Islam. They believed that even though segregation ended the white people would never allow African Americans true equality. Malcolm X taught his people of Islam that in order to be a strong race of people you must be independent of whites. He also felt living separately from one another. Malcolm X stressed economical equality with whites. He believed in order to accomplish his goals it would done by any means he felt were necessary. Malcolm X and Dr. King Jr. had completely opposite views on how to approach a difficult situation. Both did agree that moving forward, it would be through economically equity. Malcolm X was assassinated on February 21, 1965. In October 1967, The Black Panther party emerged. The party was founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California. They fought and defended the African American communities from neglect, discrimination and racial violence. They worked in urban neighborhoods across the country. They exercised their right to keep firearms, carry and own the them. They cited the second amendment of the Constitution. The panthers received a negative reputation from the media. The newspapers only concentrated on their negative actions. However little was publicized concerning the work done in the urban communities. They provided clothing, free breakfasts to children. Classes to adults involved in court cases.

Dr. King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Prior to his death he continued fighting against discrimination and poverty. During this time the Vietnam War existed. Many people were strongly opposed and protested against the war. The death of Dr. King Jr. created havoc and riots broke out throughout the country. Historians call 1968 the watershed year. A watershed is a ridge that sits on highland and is divided into two different rivers by flowing water. Despite the turmoil of the late 1960's the civil rights movement made its mark in history. It caused those in politics to bring racial justice from the back burner to the front.

Today the same issues are still a challenge to many Americans. The struggle has shifted to legal rights, for Latinos, Native Americans and Asian Americans.

Literature: Background on Ruby Bridges

Ruby Bridges was born on September 8, 1954 in Tylertown, Mississippi. In 1958 when Ruby was four years old her family moved to New Orleans. Ruby enjoyed her family and friends. Ruby was selected to take a test along with other students. The test was biased but Ruby and four other students passed the test. This allowed them to integrate into the white schools. Ruby's experience shaped her life into the person she is now. Ruby now works as a lecturer, telling her story to adults and children across the country. She talks about the importance of education. Ruby often has open discussions concerning racism and its effects on how the students view themselves. She now lives in New Orleans with her sons. Prior to reading Ruby Bridges book, Through My Eyes, the students will preview the photographs from the book. An open discussion with teacher and students. They will write a brief summary of what they felt about the photographs.

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Lesson Plan # 3

Social Studies/Reading Comprehension

Goal: to form an initial understanding of what has been read.

Objective: the students will be able to identify or infer important characters, settings, problems, events, relationships and details of the story.

Step 1: The students will read the story aloud together with teacher.

Step 2: Answer Questions

1. How old was Ruby Bridges when she went to her new school?
2. What was the name of the school?
3. Before Ruby attended William Frantz School, how many African Americans students were enrolled there?
4. After Ruby started attending the William Frantz School how many students were still there?
5. How do you think Ruby felt being the only student in her class?
6. In your opinion, why did Ruby stop eating her lunch? What would you have done in that situation?
Activity # 1
1. The students will watch the video of the Ruby Bridges story.
2. The students will then draw and color the events in sequential order. Each picture will have a one line caption underneath.
Activity #2 - Memory Recall

Teacher will introduce a photo or print of the artist Norman Rockwell's famous painting called The Problem We All Live With. The painting shows Ruby in a white dress, school bag, and white bow in her hair being escorted by federal marshals into school. The students will preview the picture for five minutes. Then they'll draw what they saw onto drawing paper. Discussion of the painting will be conducted after activity is completed.

Activity #3 - Watch the movie: Separate But Equal on Video

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Lesson # 5 Map Skills

Goals: the students will identify and locate the fifty states.

Objectives: The students will be able to locate where slave plantations existed.

A. The map game

Students will work in groups of three to locate the thirteen colony states. The maps will be blank, they must fill them in.

B. Research Project Groups of three

Directions - Using a rubric that has been created by the library media specialist, students will gather information on their assigned state. Each group will have two states to research. They must also include information on where the slave plantations were located, and the economic status of place.


To create a collage or diorama to complete their project. Oral presentations given by each student.

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Important Events of the Civil Rights Movement


May 17 - Supreme court rules in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated schools are illegal.


December 1 - Rosa Parks is arrested in Montgomery, Alabama , for not giving up her seat to a white person.

December 5 - Montgomery bus boycott begins; it last until December 21, 1956.


November 13 - Supreme Court rules that segregation of Montgomery buses is illegal.


January 10-11 - southern Leadership conference (SCLC) is founded with Martin Luther King Jr., as president.

September - In Little Rock, Arkansas, national Guard and angry mobs prevent African American students from integrating white Central High School.

September 23 - "Little Rock Nine" enter Central High for the first time. Two days later, on September 25, they receive protection from federal troops ordered in by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.


February 1 - In Greensboro, North Carolina, African American students "sit in" at a white lunch counter. Lunch counter sit-ins spread throughout the South.

April 15-17 - Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) is founded by students from nine states.

November 24, 1960 - Four black first grade girls integrate two public schools in New Orleans, Louisiana. Ruby Bridges is one of the first graders.

December 5 - Supreme Court bans segregation in bus terminals.


May-September - Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) "Freedom Rider" challenge segregation on interstate buses and in bus terminals; SNCC riders join them.

November - Albany Movement begins. Members of SNCC, NAACP, and Martin Luther King Jr., work to end segregation in Albany, Georgia. The campaign ends unsuccessfully in August 1962.


April - SNCC, SCLC, CORE, and NAACP from the Council of Federal Organizations (COFO) to begin united voter registration drive. Their first major project. "The Freedom Vote," begins in the Fall of 1963.

September - Federal troops are needed to halt riots when African American James Merideth enters all white University of Mississippi.


April - May - Campaign for civil rights in Birmingham, Alabama, is led by Martin Luther King, Jr.

June 11 - Alabama governor George Wallace stands in doorway of school to stop integration of the University of Alabama.

June 12 - Medgar Evers, leader of the Mississippi NAACP, is murdered.

August 28 - March on Washington draws more than 250,000 people.

September 15 - Four young African American girls are killed in bombing of Sixteenth street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.


January 23 - Twenty-fourth Amendment to the Constitution outlaws poll tax in federal elections.

March - Malcolm X forms the Organization of Afro-American Unity after leaving the Nation of Islam.

June - August - "Freedom Summer": 1,000 young volunteers work to register voters in Mississippi.

June 21 - Ku Klux Klan murder civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman in Mississippi.

July 2 - President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil rights Act into law.


January - March - Voting rights campaign takes place in Selma, Alabama.

February 21 - Malcolm X is assassinated in New York City.

August 6 - President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Voting Rights Act into law.

August 11 -16 - African Americans riot in Watts, Los Angeles.


June 16 - Stokely Carmichael publicly uses term Black Power which signals a new direction for the movement.

October - Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale start the Black Panther Party for self-defense in Oakland, California.


October 2 - Thurgood Marshall is sworn in as the first African American Supreme Court Justice.


April 4 - Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

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Artist Background - Jacob Lawrence

Jacob Lawrence was born on September 13, 1917, in New Jersey. Both of his parents Rose and Jacob Sr. were from the South. During WWI his parents migrated to the North. The family first moved to the rural section of Pennsylvania then into the city of Philadelphia. The pressures were great both racially and economically. Shortly after moving to Philadelphia, Jacob's father left the family. His mother had to work to support the family. Jacob had to baby-sit. She still struggled to take of her family. She thought it would be better in New York City. She left Philadelphia to look for work in New York. Jacob and his siblings spent some years in foster homes. Eventually they were reunited with their mother, in Harlem. During his teens he was actively involved in afterschool art programs. Jacob didn't really like school. He questioned the lack of interest for students to learn about African American heroes. He showed great interest Harriett Tubman and Toussaint L'Ouverture. His mother was concerned about how withdrawn he'd become. She enrolled him into formal art class. He was mentored and taught by Charles Alston who later became a professor at Howard University. This was a turning point for Jacob Lawrence. He was introduced to various artistic mediums which helped him to develop his own style. He has created several pieces over the years. Some include The Toussaint L'Ouverture Series, The Theater Series, This is Harlem Series, The Harriett Tubman and Migration Series. Mr. Lawrence died last year, 2000. His work is well known all over the country and across the waters in many other countries.

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Art and Literature

Artist Background - Faith Ringgold

Faith Ringgold is currently working as an artist and children's book illustrator. She is an African American female. She is actively involved in the feminist movement and she is a civil rights activist. She was born on October 8, 1930 in Harlem, New York. Her mother's name was Willie Posey, she was a fashion designer and dressmaker. Her father was Andrew Louis Jones Jr. He came from a long line of preachers. Faith combines both her mother and father's talents into her artwork and storytelling. Ms. Ringgold grew up in the Depression and Harlem Renaissance Era. Money and jobs were scarce. As a child she had severe asthma. She did not begin school until she was seven years old. She couldn't play outside like many other children in her neighborhood. She spent the majority of her time inside. Her mother would take her to visit museums. She also visited the Paramount where she saw many celebrities along with Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald. When her asthma kept her home from school, she would occupy herself by making things. She would use paper, crayons, bits of cloth, needle, and thread. She finished High School and went onto the City College of New York. Faith developed her own style of art through mixing elements of formal European Art and African Art. Features in her art work were borrowed from the African aesthetic. It includes the Kuba, a tie-dyed material which uses four triangles to compose a square, and utilizing figures that have enlarged heads to portray humans with great wisdom.

Ms. Ringgold became an advocate for including works created by African American artists in museums. The art work was housed at the New York Whitney Museum and the Museum of Modern Art. In 1974, she also founded an organization African American artists, called Where We At. Ms. Ringgold was inspired by exhibition of Tibetian Tankas in Amsterdam. A Tanka is a Tibetian form of religious art. The images are framed in a fabric border. From this, she created the Feminist Series which came later when she began using quilting in her art work. Quilts have been a part of her family's tradition. Her grandmother Betsy Bingham made guilts. Betsy's mother, Susie Shannon, was a slave and stitched quilts for the plantation owners. The plantation was located in Florida. Stitching quilts was part of her house duties.

The tradition of quilting was passed down from her great grandmother. Ms. Ringgold's story quilts were made into patchwork frames. Her influence came from the Tibetian Tankas. Her first story quilt called, "Who's Afraid of Aunt Jemima?" It was created in 1983 as a way of intertwining the text and image. In her children's books, Faith combines autobiography and fantasy, along with the African American legend and history. Her first book, Tar Beach, was published in 1991. Some of her other works include Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky, 1992; Dinner at Aunt Connie's House, 1993; Mrs. Jones and Family, 1973; Groovin High, 1986 and Church Picnic, 1988.

Lesson # 4a

Using an overhead projector the students will be introduced to the various pattern of quilts made by people who helped in the Underground Railroad. They will learn about the Quilt Codes.

Teacher Resource for lesson will be a book called Hidden In Plain View by Jacqueline L. Tobin, Dr. Raymond G. Dobard.

Lesson # 4b - Hands On Activity

Along with art teacher, the students will re-create the patterns introduced to them on poster board. (1) class period.

Culminating Activity

Safe Havens

Making a quilt that depicts the students own style and what they consider to be their safe haven. To be completed with Home Economic teacher.

Materials Needed


Sewing needles (large for stitching)



Fabric crayons



Each student will cut out his/her own square. On a piece of notebook paper the children will sketch their safe haven. After they've completed it, then they'll transfer it onto the fabric. When all the squares are done, each student will be with a partner. Teacher will assign sections to be completed by each group. This assignment may take 3-4 weeks.

Prior to this lesson, the children have had lessons in mathematics on measurement. The lessons will include teaching line segments, area and perimeter.

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Contemporary Quilting: A Look at Artist Faith Ringgold http://eagle.cc.ukans.edu/~benelson/quiltwebpage.html Sites gives information on her life and works.

Emilio, John D. The Civil rights Struggle: Leaders in Profile. Facts of File Inc. New York, N.Y., 1979. This book presents the biographies of eighty-three men and women as either leaders or heads of opposition.

Fogel, William Robert and Engerman Stanley. Time on the Cross The Economics of American Negro Slavery. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. New York, New York, 1989.

Time on the Cross is divided into two volumes. Volume 1 includes economics of American Negro Slavery's full complete text with charts, maps, and tables. Supplementary volume. Time on the Cross contains all source references for the work.

King, Casey and Osborne, Barrett Linda. Oh, Freedom! Alfred A. Knop, Inc. 1997. Distributed by Random House, Inc. New York, N.Y., 1997.

This book gives an account of the civil rights movement in the United States, told in a series of thirty-one interviews conducted by children with family, friends, and civil rights activists.

Biography Jacob Lawrence by Julia Haynes. http://www.onlinenetworking.org/Lawrence/biography_and commentary_on_jaco.htm Site gives information his life and art work.

Voices in African American History The American Revolution. Modern Curriculum Press, Cleveland, Ohio, 1994. This book explains in details the American Revolution and African American History intertwined as one story.

Stewart, Jeffrey C. 1001 Things Everyone should Know About African American History. A Main Street Book a division of Bantam Doubleday Bell Publishing Group, Inc. New York, N.Y., 1996. The book was designed to inform as well as to entertain. It provides facts about African American History

Tobin, Jacqueline L. and Ph.D. Dobard, Raymond G. Hidden In Plain View A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad. Anchor Books, a division of Random House Inc. New York, N.Y., 2000. This book traces the origin of the Charleston Code from Africa to the Carolinas. It shows people from three different backgrounds piece together one amazing American story.

Underground Railroad. Produced by the Division of Publications National Park Service. U.S. Department of the Interior Washington, D.C. Library of Congress Division of Publications p.c.m. (Handbook; 156) Supt. Of Docs. No: I 29.9/5:156 ISBN 0-912627-64-6 Gives information about the Underground Railroad along with vibrant pictures depicting the times of slavery.

Wilson, Benjamin. The Rural Black Heritage Between Chicago and Detroit: 1850-1929. A photograph Album and Random Thoughts. New Issues Press Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1985. The book provides information about how African Americans lived in Chicago and Detroit during 1850-1929.

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Teacher's and Student's Bibliography

Bridges, Ruby. Articles and Interviews complied and edited by Margo Lundell. Through My Eyes. Scholastic Press a division of Scholastic Inc. New York, New York, 1999. The story of Ruby is the experience one of the first African American children to integrate all white schools.

Clark, Goff Margaret. Freedom Crossing. Scholastic, Inc. New York, New York, 1991. Slave boy taken in by white children. Each person has a life changing experience.

Ringgold, Faith. Aunt Harriett's Underground Railroad in the Sky. Crown Dragon Fly Books Publishers. New York, New York, 1995. Gives an account of the underground railroad through art form.

Underground Railroad hosted by Alfre Woodard. The History Channel A&E Home Video. Distributed by New Video. A new documentary that unveils the history, heroes and villains of the Abolitionist movement.

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Student's Reading List

Hamilton, Virginia, Keith, Eros. The House of Dies Drear. Aladdin paperbacks An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division. New York, New York, 1984.

Ringgold, Faith. Dinner at Aunt Connie's House. Hyperion Books for Children. NewYork, N.Y., 1993.

Taylor, Theodore. The Cay. Avon Flare Books. New York, N.Y., 1970. The book tells a story of a young boy and a native West Indian man who helps him to deal with and adjust to being blind.

Winter, Jeanette. Follow the Drinking Gourd. Borzoi Book. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Distributed by Random House. New York, N.Y. 1988. Story of how the slaves followed the north star known as the drinking gourd.

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