Tag Archives: black history

Common Errors in English Usage: Utilize (vt), Use (vi/vt)

Here is a worksheet on using the verbs utilize and use. Utilize is used only transitively, so don’t forget your direct object. Use is also transitive, but has a two intransitive uses. The first is a very common locution in the English language: we call upon the verb use in the past tense, i.e. used, which we join with the preposition to so that we can “indicate a former fact or state,” as in “We used to go out more often” and “He didn’t use to smoke.” The second intransitive purpose for use is “to take illicit drugs regularly.” (Maybe you won’t want to point that out, however.)

Put another way, the first sense of the intransitive exercise of use can best be demonstrated by the title of the blues standard first recorded by Eddie Jones, aka Guitar Slim, “The Things That I Used to Do.” Did you know that the young Ray Charles produced and arranged the recording session that produced this great song? Neither did I until I sat down and wrote this post. For the record, (so to speak), the song was recorded at Cosimo Matassa’s J&M Recording Studio on Rampart Street in New Orleans. It was issued by the legendary Los Angeles R&B record label Specialty on October 16, 1953.

What we’re really talking about when the subjects of Cosimo Matassa, Ray Charles, Guitar Slim and Specialty Records arise are the beginnings of rock and roll. But that is another story.

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.

The Weekly Text, April 30, 2021: A Lesson Plan on the Relative Pronouns

This week’s Text is a lesson plan on the relative pronoun. I open this lesson with this Cultural Literacy worksheet on limericks; in the event that you extend the lesson into a second day, here is an Everyday Edit worksheet on Thurgood Marshall, the late civil rights jurist and Supreme Court Justice. (Incidentally, if your students respond favorably to that Everyday Edit–mine generally did–you will find that the good people at Education World give away a yearlong supply of them.) This scaffolded worksheet on relative pronouns is the principal work of this lesson. Finally, here is the teacher’s copy of the worksheet to ease delivering this lesson.

The relative pronouns in common use are who, whom, whose, what, which, that, and the –ever forms: whoever, whatever, whichever, and whomever, and they are what this lesson addresses. So, if you want your students to develop an understanding of using these words, I hope these documents abet that cause.

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.

Shirley Chisholm on Handicaps

“Of my two ‘handicaps,’ being female put many more obstacles in my path than being black.”

Shirley Chisholm, Unbought and Unbossed introduction (1970)

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

Cultural Literacy: Mary McLeod Bethune

On the first day of Women’s History Month 2021, here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Mary McLeod Bethune.

While I would like to think Ms. Bethune requires no introduction, it seems safe to doubt that is the case. This important American heroine was an early and unequivocal champion of gender and racial equality, as well as an educator. In 1904, she started the Daytona Literary and Industrial School for Negro Girls. By 1931, her school had grown to such an extent that it became Bethune-Cookman University, now one of the preeminent Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States.

In other words, Mary McLeod Bethune is a world-historical figure. All of this is another way of saying this: to those southern cities taking down statues of white men to fought for (Confederate generals and political leaders), argued for (Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney) or otherwise abetted the practice of slavery in the United States, a nice bronze casting of Mary McLeod Bethune would make an appropriate, indeed just, replacement for any of those vacant plinths. You know?

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.

A Black History Month 2021 Coda: C.L.R. James on Rich and Poor

“The patience and forbearance of the poor are among the strongest bulwarks of the rich.”

C.L.R. JamesThe Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. New York: Vintage 1989.

Frederick Douglass on What Is Necessary for Progress in the United States

“It is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake, The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.”

Frederick Douglass, Speech, Rochester, New York, 5 July 1852

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

The Weekly Text, February 19, 2020, Black History Month 2021 Week IV: A Reading and Comprehension Worksheet on George Washington Carver

This week’s Text, in this blog’s ongoing observance of Black History Month 2021, is this reading on George Washington Carver along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet. Today is the final Friday of Black History Month for this year; on Monday, March 1, this blog turns the corner to Women’s History Month.

Professor Carver is a staple of Black History, and usually observations of him tend to emphasize his interest in the peanut and its infinite varieties. While I don’t want to minimize those accomplishments–I for one would be very interested in knowing what Professor Carver’s recipes have added to the gross domestic product of the United States since their inception–I think it’s important to remember that George Washington Carver was a sophisticated agronomist who understood the need to rotate crops in southern fields so that cotton wouldn’t exhaust the topsoil. Alone, this area of his scholarly career makes Professor Carver an early environmentalist.

And all of this he accomplished while on the faculty of Tuskegee University in Alabama, in the heart of the Jim Crow South. If we White Americans are going to he honest with ourselves, we must stipulate that being a smart Black man in Alabama in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries could be dangerous indeed. For Americans of African descent, subservience and deference were the orders of the day in the Jim Crow South. His commitment to educating poor farmers also would have put him in the crosshairs of, say, the Ku Klux Klan.

So let’s all tip our hats to this great man.

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.

Dick Gregory on the Moral and Intellectual Certainty of the White Race

“You gotta say this for the white race—its self-confidence knows no bounds. Who else could go to a small island in the South Pacific where there’s no poverty, no crime, no unemployment, no war, and no worry—and call it a ‘primitive society.’”

Dick Gregory, From the Back of the Bus (1962)

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

Cultural Literacy: Black Panthers

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Black Panthers. Because the authors of The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, from which, like all the books I use to inform instructional material, I copy verbatim, use the term “Black Panthers,” I have preserved their text.

However, I have always thought of the Panthers, and therefore referred to them as the Black Panther Party, which is how they refer to themselves, and which represents them as the agents of history I would argue they have been in my lifetime.

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.

Octavia Butler

“Octavia Butler: (1947-2006) American novelist and short-story writer. Butler, who is the first black woman to achieve recognition for writing science fiction, has won the top honors in her field, the Hugo and Nebula awards. She is best known as the author of the Patternist series (Patternmaster, 1976; Mind of My Mind, 1977; Survivor, 1978; Wild Seed, 1980; Clay’s Ark, 1984), based on a society whose inhabitants have evolved telepathic powers. The most successful of her other novels is Kindred (1979), the tale of Dana Franklin, who is mysteriously transported from her 1975 Los Angeles home across time and space to emerge in 1830s Maryland as a free black woman in a slave state. Other works include Dawn (1987), Adulthood Rites (1988), and Imago (1989), the Xenogenesis trilogy, and Parable of the Sower (1993).”

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