My Folks Don't Want Me To Talk 'Bout Slavery


Greg English
OAK PARK MIDDLE MIDDLE 


Overview:
"We can't judge the past by today's beliefs"

Sarah Debro, once a slave in North Carolina, put it bluntly: “My folks was shame that niggers ever was slaves”. Sarah’s folks are not alone. Why bring it up? Why talk about slavery? The answer is Sarah. To ignore her life is to say she never was. It would deny Sarah’s humanity, it was denied in slavery time but it must not be denied now.

Approximate Duration:  8 45-minute classes
Content Standards:
  • History: Time, Continuity, and Change
         Students develop a sense of historical time and historical perspective as they study the history of their community, state, nation, and world.
Benchmarks:
  • H-1A-M2
         demonstrating historical perspective through the political, social, and economic context in which an event or idea occurred;
  • H-1A-M3
         analyzing the impact that specific individuals, ideas, events, and decisions had on the course of history;
  • H-1A-M4
         analyzing historical data using primary and secondary sources;
  • H-1B-M11
         explaining and giving examples of the reform movements that occurred during the antebellum period and evaluating their impact on American society;
  • H-1D-M6
         examining folklore and describing how cultural elements have shaped our state and local heritage.
Grade-Level Expectations (GLEs):
  • Historical Thinking Skills
    Grade 7

    45. Explain the point of view of key historical figures and groups in U.S. history

    (H-1A-M2)

    46. Explain the causes, effects, or impact of a given historical event in U.S. history

    (H-1A-M3)

    48. Compare and contrast two primary sources related to the same event in U.S. history

    (H-1A-M4)
    Grade 8

    65. Analyze the causes, effects, or impact of a given historical event in Louisiana

    (H-1A-M3)
Interdisciplinary Connections:  
  • English/Language Arts : Standard 4
         Students demonstrate competence in speaking and listening as tools for learning and communicating.
  • English/Language Arts : Standard 7
         Students apply reasoning and problem solving skills to reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and visually representing.
Objectives:
The Student Will view the video with an eye towards details, misconceptions, and preconceived notions about slavery
The Student Will use audio listening skills to explain and discuss the underlying morals of African American folktales.
The Student Will read and comprehend factual details in written primary sources and be able to summarize facts.
The Student Will be able to complete constructed response questions based on daily reading assignment and discussions.
Lesson Materials and Resources:
My Folks Don't Want Me To Talk About Slavery by Belinda Hurmence

Stories under African Skies Audio tape by Colonial Williamsburg

Chained to the Land Video by Colonial Williamsburg

Flames of Freedom Video by Colonial Williamsburg

Half Slave, Half Free Video, the story of Solomon Northrup

Brother Freedom - PBS Special on Slavery

Williamsburg Catalog http://www.history.org/history/teaching/objects_sale.cfm
Technology Tools and Materials:

Hardware:
VCR
InFocus (if used)
TV
Cassette Tape player

Software:
Power-Point

Other:

Background Information:
Students should have some ideas of the "whats and whens" about slavery. They will have lots of preconceived notions based on TV and movies, which is good for discussions. The videos, audio narratives, and written stories will give a clearer picture of real life at the time. The teacher's job will be to correct those preconceived notions and raise even more questions. The written stories are those of actual slaves, not a Hollywood version of what happened.
Lesson Procedures:
DAY ONE
1. Open class by handing the student a short except from “My Folks Don’t Want Me To Talk About Slavery” as they walk in the door. The question on the handout should be open ended questions about what the student read and thought.
2. After picking up the excepts the teacher will ask a few additional questions and read the whole short story from which the passage came.
3. Following the discussion, students will be instructed to clear everything from the table and just sit back and view the selected parts of the video [Half Slave, Half Slave] with an ‘open eye’ to see how Hollywood portrayed slaves. Also explain the story of Solomon is a true stories and it took place here in Louisiana, just south of Alexandia.
4. At the end of the selected video clip, the teacher will ask how students felt about the portrayal, and to define some terms used in the selected segment which might include such words as “white trash”, “kidnapping”, “slave trader”, “nigger”, “master”, and “mulatto”.
5. Class will be closed with a reflection back to the opening story from “My Folks Don’t Want Me To Talk About Slavery” and how the two stories compare or contrast.
6. Before students leave they will be asked to complete a “3-2-1” assignment. On a sheet of loose-leaf paper, they will be instructed to not put their name, but will answer the following questions. Write three things that they learned today, Write two things that interested or puzzled them, and write one question that they still have from today’s lesson.
7. This information will be used as a guide towards tomorrows lesson and help establish questions of discuss to give students a clearer understanding of the topic.


DAY TWO
1. Open class by handing the student another short except from “My Folks Don’t Want Me To Talk About Slavery” as they walk in the door. The question on the handout should be open-ended questions about what the student read and thought.
2. After picking up the excepts the teacher will ask a few additional questions and read the whole short story from which the passage came.
3. Following the discussion, students will be instructed to clear everything from the table and just sit back and listen to the stories about to be told on audio cassette.
4. Begin tape with the selection, “The jackal and the dog”. This selection is an African story using African animals. The tape will transition from African stories to Slave stories – same stories just “free people” to “enslave people” Between selections discuss with student’s their thoughts and what moral or life lesson do they think the story is trying to teach.
5. Following audio selection, hand out copies of a selected narrative from “My Folks Don’t Want Me To Talk About Slavery”, have students read story then write a short one paragraph (five to six sentences) summary of what the learned from the story.
6. Discuss how this former slave remember slavery. How old was the person at the time they were a slaver? Does that ‘color’ their view of slavery?
7. (Most of these slave narratives are from people who would have been 9-13 at the time of slavery) Pose this question. “Who would you describe the past 12-13 years of your life? Do you have to work to make money? Do your parents provide your food? Your housing? Your games, CD, Toys, Clothes, Entertainment? The students will realize that their life is fairly good with not real worries.
8. Now pose the question “How would your parents describe the same past 12-13 years? Gas prices going up. Cost of having you. Having to now pay for extra food, housing, clothes, toys, etc. Therefore a true description of the past 12-13 years will be different depending on the point of view.
9. Now pose this final question. “Does the age of the former slave in these stories change how the view slavery?” Do we remember the good things that have happened in or lives better than the bad? Do we forget things that happened many years ago. Does the retelling of a story over and over cause us to change the ‘story’ with each telling?
10. If time allows, close the today’s lesson with a short video clip from either “Flames of Freedom” or “Chained to the Land”. Use a different segment for each class. Close the class with answers about what students saw in the segment.
11. Before students leave they will be asked to complete a “3-2-1” assignment. On a sheet of loose-leaf paper, they will be instructed to not put their name, but will answer the following questions. Write three things that they learned today, Write two things that interested or puzzled them, and write one question that they still have from today’s lesson.
12. This information will be used as a guide towards tomorrows lesson and help establish questions of discuss to give students a clearer understanding of the topic.


DAY THREE
1. Open class by handing the student another short except from “My Folks Don’t Want Me To Talk About Slavery” as they walk in the door. The question on the handout should be open-ended questions about what the student read and thought.
2. After picking up the excepts the teacher will ask a few additional questions and read the whole short story from which the passage came.
3. Teacher will then go over terms that came up yesterday and a few that will be in another selected part of video “Half Slave Half Free”.
4. Following the discussion, students will be instructed to clear everything from the table and just sit back and view the video
5. At the end of part two of the video selection, teacher will ask students to explain the difference between, Master Ford, Master Tibbets, and Master Epps. Depending on how much is shown, also ask how Solomon and Henry were “related” (Henry’s father owned Solomon’s father), and to define some terms used such as “property”, “boy”, “overseer”, “plantation”, and “new money”.
6. Before students leave they will be asked to complete a “3-2-1” assignment. On a sheet of loose-leaf paper, they will be instructed to not put their name, but will answer the following questions. Write three things that they learned today, Write two things that interested or puzzled them, and write one question that they still have from today’s lesson.
7. This information will be used as a guide towards tomorrows lesson and help establish questions of discuss to give students a clearer understanding of the topic.


DAY FOUR
1. Open class by handing the student another short except from “My Folks Don’t Want Me To Talk About Slavery” as they walk in the door. The question on the handout should be open-ended questions about what the student read and thought.
2. After picking up this final except the teacher will ask a few additional questions and read the whole short story from which the passage came.
3. Students will be asked to now compare the four stories and talk about what the have in common (childhood memories). [I selected stories that were related by how slave children were treated on Sunday mornings]
4. Following the discussion, students will be instructed to clear everything from the table and just sit back and view the video [Brother Freedom]. (You may use the full video or selected part depending on the class time you want to devote to this lesson)
5.This video is a fun look at how a young African American male who is very much like the students I teach reacts when he is ‘transported – unwilling – back to 1722 and into slavery. The student enjoy the video because it takes a modern day student and plops him down in the 'old days' with his today’s attitude, fashion statement, and beliefs.
6. Brother Freedom is a great way to close a unit with lots of discussions and questions.
.7. Students will be instructed that they are to complete their online tests (QuizLab.com) concerning the video, audio, and written stories that they have experienced over the last four class periods.

Assessment Procedures:
Students will be assessed through daily questions/answers from short narrative selections, discussions, “3-2-1” closures, written assignment, and online quizzes at classroom’s QuizLab.com website.
Accommodations/Modifications:
Addition time for written assignments and online tests will be given based on needs of students in given class. No other modifications should be needed during this lesson.
          ----- written by Greg English  

Reproducible Materials:
Explorations and Extensions:
Interested students will be given a list of other slave stories gathered by the librarian, web address of more slave narratives, and books based on the life of Solomon Northup to get a more in-depth view of life before 1865.
Lesson Development Resources:
Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute material which includes:
Video - Flames of Freedom
Video - Chained to the Land
Audio - Stories Under an African Skies
Text - My Folks Don't Want Me To Talk About Slavery

Other Materials:
Video - Half Slave, Half Free
Video - Brother Freedom

Text book
Reflections:
This unit has always been ‘fun’ to teach considering I’m an “old white dude” teaching slavery to a school of African Americans who don't want to hear it even though it’s THEIR history. Using materials gathered and personal experiences I had while at the Colonial Williamsburg Teachers Institute last summer, this year's lesson went much easier and much more interesting. The audio tape "Stories under an African Sky" was the hook used to get my students interested. Once the students realized that the narratives they were reading were from a child's point of view they suddenly WANTED to know more. Thanks Williamsburg.
 

 

 

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