African American Poetry: Songs of Protest and Pride
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With these perceptions in mind, I have written a number of YNHTI units, during the past years, in which I tried to develop a clearer, more interrelated picture of African American history. Each attempted to emphasize the fact that, though the odds were not fair, many, many people protested in many ways, some more openly than others. Simultaneously, these units I have written attempted to develop and increase a feeling of appreciation among students for the pride and courage shown by African Americans in the past and recognition of the positives which their ancestors' actions have provided for them today, in the present. The material was usually presented in conjunction with social studies lessons, which were ordered in historical sequence. Obviously, my objective was to give students a broader, more positive view of African American history rather than presenting isolated pictures of individuals and events.
In my present unit, African American Poetry: Songs of Protest and Pride, I extend these objectives, placing an emphasis on the reading and writing of poetry reflecting the pride and protest that were a continuing element in the history of black America. Beginning with the words of Negro spirituals, through the Civil Rights Movement and the development of "black pride," up until the more strident words of today's African American poets, students will integrate poetic creations with the events of history. The "songs" they examine will include actual lyrics set to music as well as the other forms of conventional poetry. At the same time, lessons provide opportunities for students to create their own poems, bringing their personal feeling to the material being examined in class. My unit also suggests some works of prose and film, which will reinforce the objectives I aim for in my poetry related lessons.