Creating an Ethnic Student
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US History (Twentieth Century)
For many years African-Americans were not mentioned in the
mainstream press unless a crime had been committed. They were
routinely vilified by the white press, which characterized them
as "paupers", "indolent", and "uncivil". In addition to being
negatively stereotyped, African-Americans had no way to respond
to these accusations. Fed up with this situation, the first
newspaper to be published by African-Americans was created.
It was followed by hundreds of others. African-American newspapers
focused on issues and stories that were important to Africans
Americans and were usually absent from the mainstream press.
African-American newspapers investigated and reported on lynchings.
They told African-Americans how to get jobs and find housing.
They covered race riots in detail, even keeping lists of how
many people on each "side" were killed. Cartoons featuring black
characters and a serial similar to Ripley's Believe It or Not
found their way into the black press. These newspapers helped
to create communities and give a voice to people who were voiceless.
1) 0:00 - 16:43 "Too Long Have Others Spoken for
African-Americans vilified in mainstream press; Freedom's Journal
published as independent voice; John Russworm and Samuel Cornish
publishers; The North Star, edited by Frederick Douglass; ex-slaves
were free to read after the Civil War; reign of terror after
federal troops pulled out of the South; The Memphis Free Speech
investigated lynchings; Robert S. Abbott declared the vehicle
for change in America is the newspaper.
2) 17:36 - 23:20 "Standing Up for the Race"
By 1910, there are over 275 black newspapers in print; The California
Eagle was a force for social change; Charlotta Spears Bass was
both an editor and an activist in the community; the black press
protested the film The Birth of a Nation for its portrayal of
African-Americans; The Defender reached more than half a million
African-Americans each week, was partly responsible for the
Great Migration and had to be smuggled into the South after
African-American newspapers were banned.
3) 42:49 - 50:35 "A Separate World"
Chester Commodore created cartoons with African-American characters;
J.A. Rogers used cartoons to write a Ripley's Believe It or
Not-like serial about black history; Robert Vann of the Pittsburgh
Courier encouraged African-Americans to leave the Republican
party and become Democrats.
4) 59:00 - 1:11:36 "Treason?"
Pittsburgh Courier began the "Double V" campaign; African-American
press was considered dangerous to America; the African-American
press was a catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement.
5) 1:11:36 - End "Putting Itself Out of Business"
The Civil Rights Movement put the African-American press out
of business; black journalists were hired away from African-American
newspapers by mainstream press; brain drain in black press;
African-American newspapers increased advertising; African-American
press could not criticize white America and still accept its
Students will analyze news articles and features covered
by ethnic newspapers in both the past and present.
Students will discuss the types of news articles and
features that would be important to people of different ethnic
groups, i.e., students will identify their audience.
Students will create a school newspaper focusing on
topics that are important to ethnic students.
The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords video
The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords website (www.pbs.org/blackpress)
or KQED website (www.kqed.org/ednet)
Local ethnic newspapers
Ethnic newspapers online: www.afroam.org (Afro-American
Newspaper) www.capitoltimes.com (from Austin, TX) www.exodusnews.com
(African-American student newspaper from University of Pennsylvania)
www.sfkt.com (Korea Times, San Francisco) www.nichibeitimes.com
(Japanese-American Bilingual daily, San Francisco)
Desktop Publishing Software
3 class periods (60 minutes each)
Have students read different ethnic newspapers. Have
them focus on the types of current news stories, features, and
ads that are included in the newspapers.
Discuss: What current events are covered in ethnic newspapers?
Are certain types of events given heavier coverage than others?
Are any current events covered that you think wouldn't be covered
in the mainstream press? What types of issues do the editorials
in ethnic newspapers discuss? How are these different than the
editorials that might be written for the mainstream press? What
types of "lifestyle" features, advertisements, and classified
ads are present in ethnic newspapers? Are these different than
what you might see in the mainstream press?
Identify news and products that might be of specific
interest to ethnic students at your school. Discuss whether
or not these interests are addressed in your school newspaper.
FOCUS FOR VIEWING:
The following segments of the video and suggestions for showing
the segments provide effective preparation and points of focus
for this activity.
SEGMENT 1: "Too Long Have Others Spoken for Us"
For viewing Segment 1, write the following questions on the
board or overhead:
What does the title of the segment mean?
The segment shows the birth of the African-American Press,
which for the first time gave African-Americans a voice. Its
advent gave African-Americans the opportunity to counter the
stereotypes prevalent in the Mainstream Press. This answer
can be inferred early on in the viewing of Segment 1.
What does "soldiers without swords" mean? Explain
this weapon metaphor.
It is similar to the expression, "The pen is mightier than
the sword." In fact, one of those interviewed in the segment
uses that expression. The segment also establishes how effective
the African-American Press was. Both of these questions are
good ones for students to try to answer before watching the
video. It will encourage prediction and anticipation. Plus,
they are questions that students are likely to guess at an
answer which comes close to answering them correctly. At the
point when the Freedom's Journal is introduced, ask students
to refine their answers to the questions.
SEGMENT 2: "Standing Up for the Race"
For viewing Segment 2, write the following questions on
the board or overhead:
How did the California Eagle demonstrate Charlotta
Spears Bass' emphasis on social change?
Early in the segment, it shows how the paper served as a
draw for African-Americans to go to Los Angeles by providing
valuable information on housing, jobs and so on.
Why was the Chicago Defender's use of bold headlines
bold and effective? What are some examples of these headlines?
Midway through the segment, the audience learns that before
Robert S Abbott used bold headlines, it was not done. The
headlines helped dramatize things like lynchings and riots,
but they also served to encourage readers in the South to
move North for the jobs created by WW I. The result was the
Great Migration. The first part of the segment details the
California Eagle, so it is appropriate to stop the video for
a brief discussion on what the role of the newspaper was and
what roles a newspaper can serve, especially for audiences
whose needs are not being met anywhere else. Before starting
the video again, talk about bold headlines, i.e., how and
why they attract attention. The end of the segment gives you
the opportunity to discuss how the bold headlines affected
the Chicago Defender.
SEGMENT 3: "A Separate World"
For viewing Segment 3, write the following questions on
the board or overhead:
Why were members of the African-American Press
so revered by African-Americans?
One of the segment's first interviews reveals that members
of the press were only behind entertainers and athletes in
stature. In many ways they were celebrities because they were
so well respected.
How was the Pittsburgh Courier's publishing of
many different opinions effective in making it the most highly
circulated African-American newspaper?
Much of the latter part of the segment focuses on the Pittsburgh
Courier. Not only was it the first to be published nationally,
it expressed differing viewpoints. By doing this, the paper
remained fresh and appealed to a wide audience.Both of these
questions can be discussed after viewing the segment. They
serve as a nice set-up for the activity because they help
elevate the role of someone in the press and they give students
an idea of the importance of publishing different viewpoints.
SEGMENT 4: "Treason?"
For viewing Segment 4, write the following question on the
board or overhead:
Why were African-American newspapers banned and
burned on military bases?
This entire segment focuses on the Double V Campaign. Some
people, particularly J Edgar Hoover - the head of the FBI
- thought that the African-American Press was disloyal. They
worried that this lack of loyalty among African-American soldiers
could be particularly damaging, so they banned the papers.
Answering this question requires students to understand the
entire segment. Like questions for other segments, it also
helps establish the power of the press.
SEGMENT 5: "Putting Itself Out of Business"
For viewing Segment 5, write the following questions on
the board or overhead:
How did growing numbers of advertisers affect the
editorial content of African-American newspapers?
The segment talks about how the growing number of readers
after WW II led to increased advertising, including companies
like GM. Those advertisers didn't want any inflammatory articles
about white people to be run in the newspapers. As a result,
the papers toned down their editorial.
Why did many prominent African-American journalists
leave African-American papers for mainstream newspapers?
Towards the end of the segment, one journalist talks about
the financial incentive to write for the Mainstream Press.
This migration to the Mainstream Press created a "brain drain"
for the African-American Press, resulting in its downfall.
Both of these questions are good ones for students to try
to guess at their answers before viewing and then discuss
post viewing. Their relationship to the activity is mainly
that they address the economic side of the press.
Have students create an ethnic school newspaper or an "underground"
school newspaper. As a class, brainstorm topics for news articles,
lifestyle-type features, editorials and cartoons that would
be of interest to students from various ethnic groups (see Web
site examples cited above). Divide students into groups based
on areas of interest (e.g. editorials, news stories, cartoons,
etc.). Have each group come up with a short action plan for
researching and writing its piece. Important questions to consider
would be: What is the focus of the piece? What questions need
to be answered in order to create the piece? How can the answers
to these questions be found? Have students assign each member
of the group a task that will help the group complete the action
plan. Allow students time to conduct research and/or interviews.
Once all information has been gathered, student groups should
work together to complete the assigned piece. Once all of the
news articles, editorials, lifestyle features and cartoons are
completed, the student newspaper can be assembled using desktop
publishing software. The newspaper can then be distributed to
Community Involvement: Invite editors
and reporters from local ethnic newspapers to be guest speakers.
Beforehand, have students brainstorm questions about how ethnic
newspapers are produced. Students should also ask guest speakers
about how their newspapers try to distinguish themselves from
those in the mainstream press. Additionally, students should
inquire about what the guest speakers feel are some of the advantages
and disadvantages of publishing an ethnic newspaper compared
with a mainstream newspaper. Finally, students can share student-created
ethnic school newspapers with guest speakers.
Economics: Have students imagine
that they are new arrivals to the area. Use local ethnic newspapers
to help find jobs, housing, transportation, food, etc. Is it
easy for immigrants to establish themselves in a community?
Can an immigrant make enough money to provide food, clothing
and shelter? Are ethnic newspapers helpful to immigrants? If
so, how are they helpful?
Connecting & Talking Back: Develop
a school survey to gauge effectiveness of the ethnic school
newspaper. Students should brainstorm questions to be included
on the survey. Some examples might be: How would you rate the
newspaper for news coverage? Lifestyle coverage?Did the newspaper
present topics that were of interest to you? Are there any important
issues to ethnic students that need to be addressed in the future?
Writing: Have students write a
reflective piece about their experience in creating an ethnic
school newspaper. Have their opinions about different ethnic
groups changed any? Have their opinions about the mainstream
Evaluate students' action plans, articles and/or cartoons.
Did they conduct the appropriate research and cover the assigned
Have students review their own pieces as well as the
pieces of other groups. What do they like about each piece?
Is there room for improvement? If students were to create another
ethnic newspaper, what would they do differently?
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HS History Grades 9-12
Historical and Social Sciences Analysis Skills
Chronological and Spatial Thinking- Students
compare the present with the past, evaluating the consequences
of past events and decisions and determining the lessons that
Historical Interpretation- Students show the
connections, causal and otherwise, between particular historical
events and larger social, economic, and political trends and
HS U.S. History and Geography Grade 11
Standard 11.5: Students analyze the major political,
social, economic, technological, and cultural developments
of the 1920s.Analyze the international and domestic events,
interests, and philosophies that prompted attacks on civil
Standard 11.7: Students analyze America's participation
in WWII. Students analyze the roles and growing political
demands of African Americans.
Standard 11.10: Students analyze the development
of federal civil rights and voting rights. Explain how demands
from African Americans helped produce a stimulus for civil
Standard 11.11: Students analyze the major
social problems and domestic policy issues in contemporary
American society. Explain how federal, state and local governments
have responded to democratic and social changes such as racial
concentration in cities.
HS Principles of American Democracy & Economics
Standard 12.2: Students evaluate and take and
defend positions on the scope and limits of rights and obligations
as democratic citizens. Discuss the meaning and importance
of each of the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.
Standard 12.8: Students evaluate and take
and defend positions on the influence of the media on American
political life. Discuss the meaning and importance of a free
and reasonable press.
HS English-Language Arts Grades 9 & 10
Standard 3.0: Students read and respond to
historically and culturally significant works of literature
that reflect and enhance their studies of history and social
science. They conduct in-depth analyses of recurrent patterns
Standard 3.12: Analyze the way in which a work
of literature is related to the themes and issues of its historical
Standard 1.0: Students write coherent and focused
essays that convey a well-defined perspective and tightly
reasoned argument. The writing demonstrates students' awareness
of the audience. Students progress through the stages of the
writing process as needed.
Standard 1.3: Use clear research questions
and suitable research methods (e.g. library, electronic media,
personal interview) to elicit and present evidence from primary
and secondary sources.
HS English-Language Arts Grades 11 & 12
Standard 1.0: Students combine the rhetorical
strategies - narration, exposition, persuasion and description
- to produce texts of at least 1,500 words each. Student writing
demonstrates a command of standard American English and the
research, organizational, and drafting standards outlined
in Writing Standard 1.0.
Standard 2.6: Deliver multimedia presentations.
Combine text, images, and sound and draw information from
many sources (e.g. television broadcasts, videos, film, newspapers,
magazines, CD ROMs, the Internet, electronic-media generated
images). Use the selected media skillfully, editing appropriately
and monitoring for quality. Test the audience's response and
revise the presentation accordingly.