Posts Tagged ‘jeremiah’
Monday’s lesson went like gangbusters.
In case you don’t know what we’re talking about, it’s this lesson.
Students read aloud comments from CNN which ostensibly reacted to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s “God Damn America” sermon and what most-famous-parishioner and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama should do about him. Then, they watch the sermon and argue amongst themselves.
The first period loved it. Half of the class thought Wright’s phrasing was outrageous and should not be tolerated under any circumstances. The other half thought that it was reasonable, given the context. There was arguing even before we got to the comments read aloud.
Once the comments were read aloud, students were required to write their response to that comment on a sheet of binder paper, noting how effective and how fair that comment was.
Second period was more sedate, but most of the really high performing kids were absent. Fortunately, even though there wasn’t much talking or arguing — we finished a two-hour block with half an hour to spare, while the first period went into the passing period — their written responses were just as insightful as the first period.
Next time, I’ll get students to volunteer to read the comments aloud. Those who were handed the comments read them grudgingly and unenthusiastically — hardly the effect for which I had hoped.
Next up: a timeline of the Civil Rights movement since the Dred Scott decision. Naturally, we’ll bookend this by listening to Sen. Obama’s well-spoken response to the criticism of the Rev. Wright.
I expect nothing but good things from this class this week.
Moral of the story? If you, the history teacher, has trouble finding standardized content relevant to students’ everyday lives, read a newspaper once a month. You’ll find something.
For the moment, I don’t care about that speech. I’m listening to another.
Let’s back up. I’ll assume that you haven’t already heard about Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s speech on race as the poignant treatise it is.
Good speech; you should listen to it. I just don’t expect to use it in my classroom anytime soon, despite suggestions that some guy’s grandchildren will study it.
We’ll have decades to parse Obama’s campaign, character and speech on race. Let’s step back and look, if just for a moment, at what made that speech necessary.
Obama’s pastor gave a sermon within a week or so of 9/11. A six-second soundbite from it was first covered by Fox News, and it was that soundbite which prompted intraparty criticism and, ultimately, Obama’s speech.
That’s not the only sermon of his missrepresented by the news media; here’s another, if you dare.
There’s a lesson here, somewhere, and not just about the importance of putting statements in context. The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whatever you have to say about his idiom of anger and frustration, covers black and minority and foreign policy history pretty well.
13th Amendment. Dred Scott. Segregation of the military.
Even at least one accusation speaks to whole blocs of vocabulary necessary to understanding the history of civil rights and slavery. Specifically, think his equating George W. Bush to a Dixiecrat.
Unfortunately, because these sermons aren’t boiled down to a reasonable six-second soundbite, they’ll never get the press coverage they really deserve. I figure that every little bit helps.
As excellent as Obama’s speech really is, these are the excerpts I’ll use in my classrooms. They are the excerpts that show the lingering anger and frustration within the black community.
Obama, whatever his merits, just talks about it.