Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

14. Becoming Visible

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
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•  Activities
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Activities: Author Activities

James Baldwin - Teaching Tips

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  • Before they read "Going to Meet the Man," have students research the post-Civil War lynchings that took place in the United States, even up until the mid-twentieth century. They may be surprised to find that nearly two thousand lynchings of African Americans by whites took place in the twentieth century. You may wish to use the story of Emmett Till and his 1955 lynching as a focus of the research. Till was a fourteen-year-old African American from Chicago who was visiting relatives in Mississippi. After an incident where he apparently "whistled" at a white woman in a store, he was found shot and battered almost beyond recognition. An all-white jury acquitted the men accused of the crime. This miscarriage of justice led to demonstrations by African Americans throughout the South and helped to spark the civil rights movement.

  • Show students portions of the 1915 D. W. Griffith film Birth of a Nation, which is still used today as a recruitment tool for the Ku Klux Klan and is still taught in film classes for its groundbreaking cinematography. Discuss its blatant racist message and have students research why this film was one of the biggest blockbusters of its time. Make sure to preview the film ahead of time (it is three hours long) to select applicable scenes and to prepare students for its content. Finally, ask them to make connections between the film and Baldwin's story.

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