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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
•  Timeline
•  Activities
- Overview Questions
- Video
- Author
- Context
- Creative Response
- PBL Projects

Activities: Creative Response

  1. Journal and Letters: Study some of the stories of the Tuskegee airmen of World War II. Write a letter in the voice of an African American airman at Tuskegee to someone back home. Try to imagine what it was like for a black person who had risked his life in combat, only to encounter continued racism and segregation at the airbase in Alabama. What would the atmosphere have been like? What kinds of frustrations might these airmen have encountered? What would have surprised or pleased them?

  2. Journal: When in your life have you not fit in? How did you feel? What did you do about it? Conversely, think of instances in your life when you conformed to the expectations of society or close friends or family, without thinking about it too much. After having studied this unit, can you re-evaluate those moments of conformity? Were they mostly good or bad? Would you do the same thing again today?

  3. Journal: Write a story from the point of view of a young person waiting inside a bomb (fallout) shelter with his or her immediate family after a possible attack warning has been issued. What would life in the bomb shelter be like? What would your concerns be?

  4. Poet's Corner: Reread Gwendolyn Brooks's "We Real Cool." Choose a topic of your own and write a poem that imitates this style. Think about Brooks's choice of subject matter. What does her language sound like? What are the features of her verse? After you've completed your poem, write a short paragraph analyzing what you have written. What characteristics of Brooks were you trying to capture?

  5. Poet's Corner: Write a short poem that takes on the point of view of someone who remains culturally "invisible." Perhaps the poem might show why the person actually wishes to remain invisible or perhaps it will be a lament to the ongoing invisibility.

  6. History: After reading Momaday's Way to Rainy Mountain, put together a smaller project that unites your own culture, family history, and personal outlook. Use prose passages, poems, family histories and genealogies, photos, even stories from friends and anything else that helps you toward an understanding of your place within your family, your past, the places you've lived, the things you've done, and your culture.

  7. History: Interview family members who were adults or children during the 1950s and 1960s. How do they characterize their experiences? Did men and women respond differently to the threat of nuclear attack? How did children cope with the daily fear of annihilation? Did anyone in your family build a bomb shelter?

  8. History: Do some research on James Meredith, the first African American student to enroll at the University of Mississippi, in October 1962, and the resulting riot. Where did Meredith come from? Why did he put himself at so much personal risk to enroll at Ole Miss? How did the Kennedy administration get involved? How does this early desegregation contrast with the recent trend of resegregating many state universities?

  9. Multimedia: Using the American Passages archive, along with images available on the web (hint: use www.google.com and click on the "/series/amerpass/unit14/images" tab), and slide show software, create a multimedia presentation of photos and paintings that illustrate the struggle for civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s. Write a caption for each image, explaining how the image relates to the civil rights movement.

Slideshow Tool
This tool builds multimedia presentations for classrooms or assignments. Go

An online collection of 3000 artifacts for classroom use. Go

Download PDF
Download the Instructor Guide PDF for this Unit. Go


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