Saturday, December 8, 2012

At The Crossroads: The Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights, and the Fight for Black Dignity

The topic of this 11th grade American history lesson is the role the Harlem Renaissance played in the African-American fight for self-respect, civil rights, and artistic expression, and how certain artists used their media to combat segregation, racism, and overt racist violence.

Learners will demonstrate an understanding of the role the Harlem Renaissance played in Black activism against segregation and more overt forms of racism and violence directed at African-Americans.

By answering one essential question and several secondary questions through an exploration of sites dedicated to the Harlem Renaissance, students will not only learn about the music, art, and literature that exploded in the 1920s, but also connect the Harlem Renaissance to the larger fight for equality and as a precursor in many ways to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s.

Students will then compose answers either in essay form or develop a presentation with answers delivered by one historical Harlem Renaissance character.

Subject Matter Content Standard: 11.5 Students analyze the major political, social, economic, technological, and cultural developments of the 1920s.

[2] Analyze the international and domestic events, interests, and philosophies that prompted attacks on civil liberties, including the Palmer Raids, Marcus Garvey’s “back-to-Africa” movement, the Ku Klux Klan, and immigration quotas and the responses of organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Anti-Defamation League to those attacks.

[5] Describe the Harlem Renaissance and new trends in literature, music, and art, with special attention to the work of writers (e.g., Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes).

Essential Question:   How did African-Americans in the early part of the 20th century use music, art, and literature to deal with and resist the overt and covert segregation and racist violence they encountered in the South and North?

Subsidiary Questions: 
2. Who were some of the main players on the Harlem Renaissance scene?
3. What role did music play in the Harlem Renaissance?
4. How did artists use poetry as a vehicle for protest and social change?
5. How did Harlem Renaissance artists use their media to dispel the notion that Black people were unable to be creative voices?
6. What two major world events caused the power of the Harlem Renaissance to wane?
7. Which American music styles owe their origins literally to African-American communities?
8. How did the Harlem Renaissance affect the politics of the decades leading up to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s?

PBS Newshour--a special documentary of the Harlem Renaissance