PREMIERES - TOPIC 2
CIVIL RIGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
FROM SLAVERY TO FREEDOM.
"All men are created equal but some are more equal than others"
Georges Orwell - 1945
Elliott Erwitt, Photo North Carolina USA Civil rights 1950
a. Introduce and describe the document above.
b. What is the general topic of the topic? What does the author want to highlight?
c. What do you know about this topic? When did it take root?
II. SLAVERY IN THE USA.
1. Important events in the history of slavery.
Here is a list of events linked to slavery in the USA. Try to classify them in the following chart.
a. Virginia, first British colony, imports African slaves.
b. Civil War. The South (Confederates) fought in order to maintain slavery – in their view the only system which would allow their economy to flourish. The North (Unionists) fought not only to preserve the unity of their country, but also to put an end to the unfair, inhuman system of slavery.
c. Slave population in the USA had grown to 4 million.
d. 12 million Africans shipped as slaves to the Americas, 645,000 to the USA.
e.13th Amendment: Slavery abolished
f. Cotton and tobacco plantations established mainly in the South. Workforce provided by “chattel slavery” (ownership of a slave and his descendants).
g. Concept of “free states” and “slave states” established.
16th - 19th century
17th - 18th century
End of 18th century
2. The situation in the 1860's.
1. Introduce the document above.
2. Comment upon the document: what is it about, what was the situation concerning slavery in the USA in the 1960’s.
3. What is slavery? (+ worksheet and grammar)
Slavery has been imposed on people since mankind’s earliest history. When a clan defeated another clan, the prisoners could be killed or become bound to their captors. They would work for them and were a commodity to be sold. Slavery didn’t necessarily mean brutality. Some slaves would eventually be freed. But slavery in the Americas was a different story. The early European colonials in America (Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, French and British) of the 16th century saw how profitable it was to colonize the New World with cheap labor. The native Indians were not strong and were decimated by the European diseases. This was not the case for the Africans who had immunity from earlier contacts with Europeans. The lucrative slave trade started between Africa, Europe and America. The first Africans in the American colonies landed in Virginia one year before the Pilgrims landed in New Plymouth. The Negroes were soon indispensable for southern agriculture like cotton, tobacco and rice. But although they worked side by side with whites the colonial laws quickly came to exclude them. Inter racial marriages were forbidden, the courts treated a black criminal more harshly, it was forbidden to educate blacks, African religious practices were outlawed as well as African languages and dances. Their conversion to Christianity went without saying. White immigrants viewed blacks as different: a group of slaves or of poor who were untrustworthy, sexually overactive and overgrown children who could be treated harshly and were to be distinguished by their black color.
Document 2: a still from the movie "Amistad" (1997)
This film by Steven Spielberg (1998) was based on a novel by Alex D. Pate (1997). It relates an historical event which took place in 1839. About 50 Africans had been captured in Africa and taken aboard the Spanish slave ship “Amistad“. They managed to seize the ship and killed two crewmen. However, the Amistad was seized by a U.S ship and the Africans were put on trial. They were eventually freed as it was argued that everyman can escape from illegal bondage. Those who had not died were returned to their homeland in Sierra Leone. The film had a great impact as it showed the life and death on board a slave ship. The trial was also the occasion to depict how the US were divided between the supporters of slavery and the abolitionists.
4. The end of slavery.
The American constitution (adopted on September 17th, 1747 – into effect on March 4th 1789). The thirteen Amendment was added in 1865.
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Thirteenth Amendment – Slavery abolished - 1865
1. What does this Amendment defend?
2. What is forbidden thanks to this Amendment?
III. THE LONG WAY TO RECOGNITION.
1. Oral comprehension: Obama's speech.
2. Group work:
Do you know all the events mentionned by Barack Obama?
Choose one of the follwoing topics below and prepare an oral presentation for the class.
- the Jim Craw Laws
- the Bus Boycott
- the Philadelphia Convention
- the Black Codes
- the Voting Right Act
3. Key dates to remember.
1776: signing of the Declaration of Independence = the thirteen former (ex) British colonies became independent (text)
1787: Ratification of the Constitution of the USA.1791: Adoption of the Bill of Rights (first ten amendments to the Constitution), protecting the rights of liberty and property (text)
1861-1865: The American Civil War between Confederates and Abolitionists (map)
1865-1866: Implementation of the Black Codes (text)
1964: Legislation of racial segregation in public places with the Jim Craw Laws (text)
1954: Segregation in schools declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court
1955-1956: Montgomery Bus Boycott after Rosa Park’s arrest (text).
1964: The Jim Craws Laws outlawed. Implementation of the Civil Rights Act
1965: Right to vote given to all African Americans by the Voting Right Act (text)
4. Struggle for equality in litterature: written comprehension.
1. Text one: To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee - 1960 + worksheet
2. Reading a diary: The Freedom Riders.
IV. THE SITUATION TODAY.
1. Oral comprehension: Employment problems.
2. Iconographic document: President Obama.
To discover more about this topic, I strongly advise you to watch the movie entitled The Butler (starring Forrest Whitaker, Morgan Freeman and Oprah Winfrey and released in 2013).