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Social Studies

Jacob Lawrence valued his community and observed it closely; it inspired his art.

Look at Beginnings to see photographs of Harlem and Lawrence’s depictions of the scenes he saw in his neighborhood.

* Research the Harlem community in the first half of the 20th century–its size, population, economy, cultural and political life.

* Investigate your community. (Individual students or groups could do this.) Find out about its history–how it developed, who founded it, why it was established.

* Compare your community in the past with the way it is now. Describe its present character. What are the differences? (Different people, ages, occupations, buildings, transportation, open space)

* Interview residents who have lived in your community for a long time. How do they view the neighborhood? What do they think about the community now? How has it changed? Has change made the neighborhood better or worse? Why? Each student could write a report on the interview, for class discussion. What is regarded as good change? Bad change? Why?

*Research the Great Migration. When did it occur? Create a list of reasons why African-Americans left the South and migrated North. (See Jacob Lawrence, The Migration Series, Panel 3)

* What were the major northern cities to which African-Americans migrated? Find them on a map of the United States.

Have you and your family always lived in your present city? Where did your family come from? Why did they move?

* Find out about the origins of others in you class or group. Make a list of the cities or countries from which they came and locate these places on a map.

* Discuss and list reasons for moving from one place to another, comparing conditions at the time of the Great Migration (about 1917-1940) and the present.

* Research the Civil Rights movement. Who were some of the leaders of the movement? Find out about the strategies used to press for racial equality. Locate the cities where major Civil Rights activity occurred. (See Confrontation at the Bridge)

An * indicates questions and activities useful in preparation for Stanford 9 Tests.



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