Subject Matter Area
: Social Studies, Language Arts
: To be able to identify with the problems faced by family members in African-American families from the past and of today; to develop a means of possible solution to difficult family situations; to be able to assume the role and feelings of another.
: After the class is familiar with the conditions facing the African-American family during the time of slavery, through discussion, the class will list some of the problems they feel were most oppressive. A partial list might include: family members forcibly separated, physical cruelty, deprived of education, decisions regarding escape.
The class will then list the most crucial problems they feel are facing the African-American family of today. A partial list might include: prejudice and discrimination, drugs, gaining a good education, crime.
A problem situation will then be presented from the past for role-play. As an example: “You are a fifteen year old slave on a Southern plantation. You have a chance to attempt an escape on the Underground Railroad. It would mean leaving other family members behind. Someone attempted escape last month, was captured, and was beaten close to death when returned. You decide to discuss this matter with your mother, uncle, and two close friends, one who is going with you and one who refused out of fear.”
Slips of paper will be given to pupils who volunteer for each role. These will provide a general statement of the character’s general attitude to guide the pupil’s portrayal.
Example: “You want to be free more than anything, but you fear the consequences of failure. You saw the run-away beaten last month. You don’t think you could bear this happening to your friend who is deciding whether to attempt escape.”
After pupils have portrayed enough of the situation to reach some sort of resolution or to give the group a feel for each character’s dilemma, the actors and audience will be given a chance to react to the presentation. Pupils might be asked for alternative ways in which the characters might have reacted.
The same will be done with a problem faced by families of today. “You don’t like the people your child is hanging with. You think they’re a bad influence. You decide to bring it up at the dinner table in front of your wife and two younger children.”
The same procedure would be followed.
Pupils then will be encouraged to create their own situations to be role-played. Situations could range in “severity” from the less serious to the critical. They might be from any period in African-American history.
To be done adequately, this lesson should take at least two class sessions.