Working with Takaki Ch 5, I would have students do a text comparison by examining the views (through their writings) of both Frederick Douglas and Pati Delaney about what the right strategies were to pull blacks out of slavery. Did it have to be through the barrel of a gun, or was there a peaceful way to do it? Was economic power/ land ownership really the best way to power and rights, or do you think other rights could have led to equality?
In “Historical Thinking” they talk about building a context around the arguments of the time so that we aren’t engaged in “presentism.” I would use the quote from page 110 about pre-nuclear era thinking to show students what presentism WAS. From that, the first thing I would have the students do it build a social context around the writings. They can use the whole Takaki chapter and I would provide an additional couple of resources that give them an idea of lifestyle and the mindset of the time period. Based on that they would, in groups, work to build a social context for the reading by examining the following:
1. What were the far ends of the debate over these questions at the time? What were the extremes, what positions were more mainstream, and who held each position?
2. What cultural institutions put African Americans at a disadvanatage?
3. What, and who, prevented blacks from having equal access to education and other empowering resources?
4. What types of social relationships were acceptable, which were not?
5. How was the culture of mid 19th century society different from today?
Then I would have them read excerpts of texts (letters, essays, etc…) of both
Could freedom only be achieved at the barrel of a gun? Could power only be acquired through land ownership?