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1 février 2013 5 01 /02 /février /2013 09:45


    February is the Black History Month in the USA.

  People pay a tribute to people and events

  that have shaped the history of African Americans.   





In the Collège Les Aigrettes, the 3èmes are working on this theme at the moment.

martin luther king Our work is untitled "From slavery to the White House". Barack Obama

    If you're interested, don't miss the summary of the lessons on the blog!




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16 février 2011 3 16 /02 /février /2011 10:30

On December 1955 in the city of Montgomery, Alabama, a Black woman called Rosa Parks

refused to give up her seat to a white man on a bus.

She was actually sitting in the "colored" section of the bus but because there were no more free

seats in the "white" section, the bus driver had asked Rosa to move. The police came and she

was arrested and put into prison.

rosa parks


A young Black baptist preacher Martin Luther King came to Montgomery and organized a bus

boycott in the city. During a whole year, Black people refused to get into a bus and the company

almost went bankrupt. In 1956, all buses in Montgomery were desegregated. Non-violence had


A song by the Neville Brothers Sister Rosa Parks (1994) is about the story of this amazing

woman who was the first to revolt against the Jim Crow Laws.

In 2002, the movie Rosa Parks Story was released.

Soon after, Martin Luther King became the leader of the civil Rights Movement in the USA. He

organized other boycotts and sit-ins such as the famous lunch bar sit-in in 1961. 

In 1963, he led the huge March on Washington. Thousands of people joined the march where

he delivered his famous speech "I have a dream".  march-2.jpg


In 1964, Martin Luther King received the Nobel Prize for Peace and he was assassinated in


The singers Bob Dylan and Joan Baez were famous musicians who campaigned for Civil Rights

for African Americans. Baez joined Martin Luther King's March on Washington in 1963 and sang

the well-known protest song "We shall overcome".



The Montgomery bus boycott sparked many other non-violent actions.

In february 1960, some students in Carolina had a sit-in at a lunch counter in a white restaurant.

They were arrested but other students replaced them.    sitin

Their action lasted 6 months, until segregation ended in all the restaurants of the city. After a

while, the movement spread to public parks, beaches, churches or cinemas all over the Southern




In Education, the Jim Crow Laws forced Black and White children to go to separate schools.

In 1960 in Louisiana, it was decided that segregation in public schools was over. A 6-year-old

girl called Ruby Bridges became famous after being the first Black child to integrate a white

school in New Orleans. To protect her from furious white activists, she was taken to school by

4 Deputy Marshals every single day.  ruby.jpeg

A Walt Disney movie called The story of Ruby Bridges was released in 1998.

The famous American painter Norman Rockwell illustrated this episode in his work untitled

"The problem we all live with" in 1963. The Painting represents the young Ruby proudly walking

to school in her bright white dress, surrounded by the Deputy Marshals. 



In 1964, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, officially ending segregation in all public

places. One year later in 1965, the Voting Rights Act allowed the African-American to vote.



During the Mexico Olympic games in 1968, two Black American athletes won the gold and

bronze medals for the 200 meter race. They stepped onto the podium without their shoes but

wearing black socks (symbol of African-American poverty). When the American anthem was

played, theyraised one black-gloved fist and bowed their head.

This Black Power Salute shocked the national team and they were immediately banned. But

that strong and meaningful gesture became a symbol of the struggle against segregation.

The 2008 movie Salute is about that famous event.   fist.jpeg




Malcom X was also famous for his fight against segregation. But contrary to Martin Luther King,

he was in favour of violent actions against the white population. Malcom X was the father of the

Nation of Islam and of the Black Muslims. He deeply believed in the superiority of the

black race and wanted the right to vote for all African-Americans. malcolm-x.jpeg


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16 février 2011 3 16 /02 /février /2011 09:36

After the Civil War and the abolishment of slavery, 4 000 000 000 former slaves were free.

But the Southern States disagreed with that idea. In 1866, the Jim Crow Laws legalized racial

segregation in the South: Black and White people were separate in all public facilities such as

parks, restaurants, theaters, cinemas, waiting rooms, drinking fountains, etc....


Black people had to sit in the back of buses and upstairs in cinemas. Black children were not

allowed to attend the same schools as the whites. Signs were put to identify "colored" and

"white" facilities.

Ironically, there was a set phrase that described that system of segregation: "Separate but

equal". Of course, African-Americans were not allowed to vote.


A white extremist group called Ku Klux Klan was born after the end of slavery in the Southern

States. Members would wear white-pointed hoods and would show the christian cross as the

symbol of their supremacy.  kkk

They would organize marches and public lynching of Black people in order to create a climate of terror

among the black population.

 black lynching


The song Strange Fruit sung by billie Holiday in 1939 deals with lynching.

Black people would sing the blues to express their sorrows and hopes for a better future.

Some songs, such as We shall overcome or A change is gonna come (Sam Cooke) became the

symbols of segregation.

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10 février 2011 4 10 /02 /février /2011 15:52

When he became the 16th President of the United states in March 1861, Abraham Lincoln

declared that he wanted to abolish slavery.

His ideas were not popular in the Southern States where there were lots of Black slaves working in

the plantations. Moreover, Southerners were scared that these 200 000 free slaves would take

control of the country.




So the Southern States seceded from the Union and the Civil War began in April 1861. The North,

which was anti-slavery was opposed to the South which was pro-slavery.

The North won the war in 1865 and the 13th Amendment of the Constitution was written to

officially abolish slavery: It was the Emancipation Proclamation.

Lincoln was assassinated shortly afterwards as he was attending a play with his wife.

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10 février 2011 4 10 /02 /février /2011 15:07

Slavery started in the 17th century with the arrival of Black slaves from Western Africa.


They were brought to America by force to work on the tobacco, cotton and sugar cane

plantations in the Southern States.

slavery map    

Slaves did not have many rights: they had to work from sunrise to sunset and had to sleep in

small huts on the plantations. they had to wear old and ill-fitting clothes. They were not allowed

to use their birth name, to speak in their native language and they were not allowed to be

educated at all. Of course, they were not allowed to leave the plantation.


Some workers were allowed to sing during the day when they had to coordinate their efforts.

Their work songs dealt with daily life. They were a "question/answer" kind of songs and the

noise of the cutting or of the shovel replaced the sound of the drums.

As for prisoners, they used to sing chaingang songs while they were working on the roads or

on some constructions.

Yet, some slaves were able to make some instruments in their free time. everybody gathered at

night in secret meetings and they could sing and share their joys, pains and hopes. Because they

were strongly influenced by their master's religion, they would sing Negro Spirituals, talking

about Jesus, the Lord, Biblical figures and the Promised Land.

The most famous Spiritual is "Go down Moses" (let my people go).

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