America has evolved due to social changes that were brought about by masses of people fighting, standing, sitting, boycotting and rallying for what they believe. Photographs documenting these protest and photographs of the situations that were being protested help to bring about change. Photography has been used to document historical moments and the happenings of the time. It has been said that "a picture is worth a thousand words."
"Seeing is believing" is another aphorism. We put great stock in what we see. Stories are told about horrific and wonderful things that are unbelievable until we have witnessed it with our own eyes in a picture. This is where photography has played a great part; it has expanded our world. First pictures, then videos, yet there are things we would never see in our daily lives or places we would never go, but yet we experience them through photography.
In this unit I will use a timeline of photographs to travel throughout history and highlight the African American experience. The experience will not be treated as isolated incidents but as they occurred as part of United States history. It will be taught to an 8th grade social studies class.
Black History is either mentioned slightly or else completely omitted from some history textbooks. In partial compensation, Black History has been assigned the month of February for celebration. During this time most students are exposed to the same few prominent figures and their accomplishments, for example Harriet Tubman's Underground Railroad, and Rosa Parks' Bus Boycott. The most talked about moment is Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. In the past I have chosen to read a novel about a famous black activist. This approach proved to be long and boring for the students. Therefore I want this unit to go beyond Black History month and beyond the same few figures and events students have often been exposed to in class. This unit will be taught throughout the school year woven into the curriculum at the appropriate times. Therefore there is a need for the skills and activities that will accompany each time period to be introduced at the onset of the school year.