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Putting It All Together

In this lesson, students meet Dr. Manassa T. Pope, an African-American doctor and entrepreneur in the early 20th century, and learn about his efforts to gain civil rights well before the modern Civil Rights Movement. The following activities will help them apply what they have learned.

Activity 1: Mock election
A) Have students make campaign posters for Dr. Pope in the 1919 election and create a display for them in the classroom. What kind of slogan might the candidates have used? How would you campaign for an election that you knew was impossible to win? Are there any modern examples of candidates who run on principle with no hope of winning? Hold a class discussion on the merits of running on principle and whether or not this helps to accomplish certain goals.

B) Hold a mock election, either with student candidates, or for a referendum on some kind of classroom issue (e.g., changing the way the room is arranged). Randomly tell some students that they cannot vote, based on something beyond their control like where they sit or what they're wearing. Hold a class discussion after the exercise. What was the outcome of the vote? How did those students that were not able to vote feel? Would the verdict have been different if the other students were allowed to participate? Why is voting so important?

Activity 2: Constructing a Biography
Have students write a research paper on one of Dr. Pope's African-American contemporaries. Preferably the person would have been most active in the years between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement. Students should focus on the ways in which their person challenged racial roles and stereotypes. Have students present their findings in class.

Suggestions include: Marian Anderson, Louis Armstrong, Josephine Baker, Mary McLeod Bethune, Charlotte Hawkins Brown, George Washington Carver, Charles Chestnutt, W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, Scott Joplin, Thurgood Marshall, Jelly Roll Morton, Madam C.J. Walker, Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells, and Richard Wright.

Activity 3: Race relations in your hometown
Have students research race relations in your town or city and hold a class discussion on the following questions. Did segregation exist? If so, was it written into the laws? Is evidence of racial separation still visible today? Have there been any major events in the town/city/region's history related to race (e.g., a race riot, a march, a protest, or an example of interracial cooperation)? If so, what were the events leading up to and/or the effects of this event?

Alternatively, ask students to conduct an oral history interview with a community member who remembers life during the Jim Crow period. What does she/he recall about race relations in the community during this time? Did she/he attend segregated schools, or go to segregated public facilities? How did she/he feel about race relations then, and how has this shaped the person she/he is today? Have students submit their recordings either on paper or on tape to the local library or historical society.

 

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