Overview

Without doubt, the history of American popular music is the history of black experience in the United States. From the banjo (one of America’s earliest popular instruments) to Hip Hop, popular music has been continually informed by the cultural resilience, ingenuity, and genius of the African American community in the face of enormous injustice.

The lessons below highlight the intersections of music and black experience in America, from slavery to abolition to sharecropping to the Great Migration to Southern integration. The lesson collection also focuses on the various social movements initiated by the black community, from  Civil Rights to Black Power to Black Lives Matter.

Lessons

View Lesson

The Banjo, Slavery, and the Abolition Debate

Grades: AP/Honors/101
Subjects: Social Studies/History
View Lesson

The Blues: The Sound of Rural Poverty

Grades: High, Middle
Subjects: Social Studies/History
View Lesson

The Blues and the Great Migration

Grades: High
Subjects: Social Studies/History, STEAM
View Lesson

The Memphis Sound and Racial Integration

Grades: High
Subjects: ELA, Social Studies/History
View Lesson

Producing the Sounds of a Changing South

Grades: High
Subjects: General Music, Social Studies/History
View Lesson

Music and Political Movements

Grades: High
Subjects: ELA, Social Studies/History
View Lesson

“Glory” and the Continuing Civil Rights Movement

Grades: High, Middle
Subjects: Social Studies/History
View Lesson

The Rise of Black Pride

Grades: High
Subjects: ELA, Social Studies/History
View Lesson

Funk Asserts Itself

Grades: High
Subjects: Social Studies/History
View Lesson

Kanye and Katrina: Environmental Racism in New Orleans

Grades: High, Middle
Subjects: Social Studies/History
View Lesson

“Alright” and the History of Black Protest Songs

Grades: High, Middle
Subjects: Social Studies/History