Phillis Wheatley

Although I’d been aware of her since high school, I wasn’t aware of the indignities she endured as the first African-American writer to publish in North America. This reading on early African-American poet Phillis Wheatley (with its accompanying vocabulary building and comprehension worksheet) does a nice job of exposing that particular disgrace on the part of white Boston elites.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Imamu Amiri Baraka

Formerly Leroi Jones, 1934-2014). American poet and playwright. Dutchman, a taut one-act play, part realistic, part ritualistic, crystalizing the conflicts between white and black cultures, established Baraka as an important force in stimulating black playwriting and production. Slave Ship (1967), relies on music and action as much as language to unfold its haunting story. Baraka’s theater is aggressive and provocative, yet lyrical in its theatrical effect. His prolific output of essays and poetry includes Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note (1961) The Dead Lecturer (1964), Black Magic (1969) and Hard Facts (1976); his work is collected in Selected Plays and Prose and Selected Poetry (both 1979). Two other works appeared in 1979: a collection of poetry AM/TRAK and Spring Song. Reggae or Not, prose writings, appeared in 1981. Baraka’s later works have become increasingly polemical and separatist, causing many white liberals to desert him. He also published The Music: Reflections on Jazz and Blues (1987), Shy’s Wise: The Griot’s Tale (1994), and Jesse Jackson and Black People (1994).”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Independent Practice: Kingdom of Ghana

After a very pleasant weekend, here on a Monday morning, in Mark’s Text Terminal’s ongoing observation of Black History Month 2019, is an independent practice worksheet on the Kingdom of Ghana.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

W.E.B. DuBois as Psychologist

“The Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world—a world which yields him no self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in universal contempt and pity.”

“Strivings of the Negro People” (1897)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Cultural Literacy: Benjamin Banneker

Although he is little known today, Benjamin Banneker was an African-American Renaissance man. If you’d like your students to know something about him, this Cultural Literacy worksheet on Benjamin Banneker might be a reasonable place to start.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

James Baldwin

(1924-1987) American novelist and essayist. Baldwin’s first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, about the religious awakening of a fourteen-year-old black youth, was based closely on Baldwin’s own experience as a young storefront preacher in Harlem. His subsequent novels, including Giovanni’s Room (1956), Another Country (1962), Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone (1968) and If Beale Street Could Talk (1974), are movingly written accounts of emotional and sexual suffering and growth, often played out against the background of social intolerance toward freely expressed sexuality (particularly homosexuality) as well as racism. Baldwin was a distinguished essayist whose nonfiction works include Notes of a Native Son (1955), Nobody Knows My Name (1961), and The Fire Next Time, all passionately angry indictments of an American society that institutionalizes race discrimination. In his own protest against inhumane conditions, Baldwin left the U.S. at twenty-four to live in France, where most of his work was written; he returned to America in 1977. He also wrote plays, such as The Amen Corner (1955), Blues for Mister Charlie (1964), and One Day, When I Was Lost (1973), a script based on The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Baldwin’s sixth novel, Just Above My Head (1979), is a thirty-year saga of a group of Harlem friends whose individual odysseys through wars, poverty, and the civil rights struggle bring them to various fates. In 1985 he published The Price of the Ticket: Collected Non-Fiction, 1948-1985, and in 1986, Evidence of Things Not Seen, an analysis of racism in the light of the Atlanta murders of black children.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

 

The Weekly Text, February 8, 2019

OK, for the second Friday of Black History Month 2019, here is a high-interest reading on seminal Hip-Hop group Public Enemy and the vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet that accompanies it.

Years ago, I set out to write a reading and writing unit on the History of Hip-Hop, starting from a pithy remark Chuck D made to characterize Hip-Hop, to wit that the musical genre in its manifestations was “CNN for Black people.” Even though the seriously alienated students in whose service I contrived this material took great interest in it, the principal of the school forbade me from teaching it. I have yet to revisit that material and take it further, as I have no reason to think any of the principals I’ve worked for since would have allowed me to present this high-interest, differentiated material.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.