1. Vocabulary Development
Before viewing the visuals and films, students should be introduced to pertinent vocabulary. By understanding terms such as migration, disenfranchisement, segregation, sharecropping, mechanization, and industrialization, students will be able to construct meaning from film and text.
2. Family Migration History
As a result of watching the films and reading and listening to literature, students can develop a standard questionnaire that will probe interviewees for specific information. Also to model the format of the documentaries, students can interview family members or community members to get an oral account of the migration and gather photographs and mementos that depict their journey North.
3. Advertisements and Publications
The students can view publications such as the Chicago Defender to understand how media persuaded African Americans to move North. After viewing the advertisements the students can make predictions about how they as Southerners would have responded. Then the students can be allowed to see actual letters written by African-Americans where they expressed an interest in the jobs and opportunities listed in the publication.
4. Visual Interpretation
Using Lawrence’s text of paintings, students can develop dialogue that matches a particular painting. Based on information in the films and literature students can assign dialogue to individuals or groups depicted in the paintings. The format for assigning parts can be in the form of a play or Reader’s Theater, where choral reading is involved.
Langston Hughes wrote a poem entitled “One Way Ticket.” Written in Negro dialect, this poem takes the voice of a recent migrant by telling how he only needs a one way ticket North, not round trip. This implies that the traveler will not be returning from his destination and that he plans to start a new life in this new place. This poem can also be used to give a voice to migrants seen in film and literature.
6. Media Literacy
By assessing the producers’ motives for making each documentary students can discuss reasons for making each film. Concepts students should be asked to keep in mind are education, information, persuasion, economics, or creativity. Once all ideas are listed students can inventory results using a semantic feature analysis. After this, allow students to analyze the graph to debate which documentary truly purports to deliver a broad or narrow view of the Great Migration.
7. Using Historical Film
First the students should view the “Killing Floor” to get information about labor union organization. Students can judge the workers’ efforts to create Labor Unions. Also using this film, students can compare and contrast the main character in the film to interviewees in the documentaries.
8. Geographical Studies
Students can determine routes that African-Americans took to get to their desired ‘promised lands.’ This activity incorporates the use of maps and conclusions of interview questions. Students can trace the routes traveled by African-Americans from Southern states; for example, students can diagram the directions from North Carolina to New York, from Tennessee and Alabama to Pittsburgh and Detroit, and from Mississippi and Alabama to Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis. By determining routes, students can also make deductions about why certain cities and locations were chosen by migrants.