Racism & Racial Identity

Andrew Jackson and the "Children of the Forest" (Lesson) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Andrew Jackson and the “Children of the Forest”

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. A lesson in which students develop critical literacy skills by responding to Andrew Jackson's speech on "Indian Removal."
Time Periods: 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849
Themes: Native American, Racism & Racial Identity
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COINTELPRO: Teaching the FBI’s War on the Black Freedom Movement

Teaching Activity. By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca. 29 pages. Rethinking Schools. Through examining FBI documents, students learn the scope of the FBI’s COINTELPRO campaign to spy on, infiltrate, discredit, and disrupt all corners of the Black Freedom Movement.
Time Periods: 20th Century, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974, Post-Civil Rights Era: 1975 - 2000
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity
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Trail of Tears 1839

The Cherokee/Seminole Removal Role Play

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. What led up to the Trail of Tears? In this lesson, students learn about the decision to remove the Cherokee and Seminole people from their lands.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849
Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Native American, Racism & Racial Identity
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Apalachicola River | Zinn Education Project

The Color Line

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. A lesson on the countless colonial laws enacted to create division and inequality based on race. This helps students understand the origins of racism in the United States and who benefits.
Time Periods: Colonization: 1492 - 1764, 18th Century, Revolution & Constitution: 1765 - 1799
Themes: African American, Laws & Citizen Rights, Native American, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance
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Constitution Role Play: Whose “More Perfect Union”? and The Constitutional Convention: Who Really Won?

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 23 pages. The U.S. Constitution endorsed slavery and favored the interests of the owning classes. What kind of Constitution would have resulted from founders who were representative of the entire country? That is the premise of this role play activity.
Time Periods: 18th Century, Revolution & Constitution: 1765 - 1799
Themes: African American, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance, Social Class
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Deportations - 1500 Mexicans Loaded on Trains | Zinn Education Project

Deportations on Trial: Mexican Americans During the Great Depression

Teaching Activity. By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca. In this role play students analyze who is to blame for the illegal, mass deportations of Mexican Americans and immigrants during the Great Depression.
Time Periods: Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944
Themes: Immigration, Labor, Latinx, Laws & Citizen Rights, Racism & Racial Identity
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The Draft Riot Mystery

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. Students are invited to solve a mystery, using historical clues, about the real story of the Draft Riots.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: African American, Democracy & Citizenship, Immigration, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance, Social Class, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
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Five Years After the Levees Broke: Bearing Witness Through Poetry (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Five Years After the Levees Broke: Bearing Witness Through Poetry

Teaching Activity. By Renée Watson. 7 pages. Rethinking Schools. A teacher's reflection on the power of poetry to spark critical discussion and reflection on current issues of inequality surrounding disaster response in the United States.
Time Periods: 21st Century, 2001 - Present
Themes: African American, Climate Justice, Environment, Art & Music, Language Arts, Laws & Citizen Rights, Media, Racism & Racial Identity
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collage of six Black abolitionists in the United States.

‘If There Is No Struggle…’: Teaching a People’s History of the Abolition Movement

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 16 pages. Rethinking Schools. In this role play, students become members of the American Anti-Slavery Society, facing many of the real challenges to ending slavery.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance
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It’s a Mystery—White Workers Against Black Workers

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. 8 pages. In this “mystery” activity, students receive clues and discuss some of the factors that contributed to the intensification of racism in the 1920s in the United States.
Themes: African American, Labor, Racism & Racial Identity
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Just an Environment or a Just Environment?

Teaching Activity. By Hyung Kyu Nam. 2003. Explores the multiple causes of racial segregation and environmental racism, and helps students understand how institutional racism is perpetuated in the post-Civil Rights era.
Time Periods: 20th Century
Themes: Racism & Racial Identity
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Japanese American Internment Featured Image

A Lesson on the Japanese American Internment

Teaching Activity. By Mark Sweeting. Rethinking Schools. How one teacher engaged his students in a critical examination of the language used in textbooks to describe the internment.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944
Themes: Asian American, Democracy & Citizenship, Education, Laws & Citizen Rights, Racism & Racial Identity, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
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The Other Internment: Teaching the Hidden Story of Japanese Latin Americans During WWII

Teaching Activity. By Moé Yonamine. 18 pages. Rethinking Schools. Poetry, photography, and text are used in this role play to teach about the seldom told history of Japanese Latin American internment during WWII.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944
Themes: Asian American, Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Immigration, Laws & Citizen Rights, Racism & Racial Identity, US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements, World History/Global Studies
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Presidents and Slaves: Helping Students Find the Truth (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Presidents and the Enslaved: Helping Students Find the Truth

Teaching Activity. By Bob Peterson. 7 pages. Rethinking Schools. How a 5th grade teacher and his students conducted research to answer the question: “Which presidents owned people?” Available in Spanish.
Time Periods: 18th Century, 19th Century
Themes: African American, Education, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance
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Promoting Social Imagination Through Interior Monologues (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Promoting Social Imagination Through Interior Monologues

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Linda Christensen. 3 pages. Rethinking Schools. Empathy, or "social imagination," allows students to connect to "the other" with whom, on the surface, they may appear to have little in common.
Time Periods: All US History
Themes: Language Arts, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements, Women's History
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Reading Between the Lines: An Art Contest Helps Students Imagine the Lives of Runaway Slaves (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Reading Between the Lines: An Art Contest Helps Students Imagine the Lives of Runaway Slaves

Teaching Activity. By Thom Thacker and Michael A. Lord. 4 pages. Rethinking Schools. An art contest is used as the basis from which students can examine primary historical documents (advertisements for runaway slaves) to gain a deeper understanding of the institution of slavery in the North.
Time Periods: Colonization: 1492 - 1764, 18th Century, Revolution & Constitution: 1765 - 1799, 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: African American, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance
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