Overview

The lessons below explore the integral role music has played in major social justice movements in American history. In two introductory lessons, students examine how “the beat” in American popular music has both brought people together and threatened the status quo, and they discover how musical performance has been used as a way to promote awareness and encourage activism. The collection then details music’s role in specific social justice movements, from the Civil Rights, Anti-War, and Women’s movements in the 1960s to the Black Power and Red Power movements in the early 1970s.  Also included is a lesson on the role social anthems have played for the African American community, from Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” to Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright.” The path includes the 2-part lesson Sun City: A Musical Force against Apartheid, which recounts how an international community of musicians helped bring an end to South African Apartheid. Also included is a lesson on how, through public pressure, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day became a federal Holiday. The pathway ends with lessons on more contemporary social movements, such as MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter.

Lessons

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The Beat as an Object of Celebration and Concern in Segregation-Era America

Grades: High
Subjects: General Music, Social Studies/History
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Protest as Event

Grades: High
Subjects: Social Studies/History
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Music and Political Movements

Grades: High
Subjects: ELA, Social Studies/History
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The Music of the Civil Rights Movement

Grades: High
Subjects: Social Studies/History
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The Impact of 1960s Antiwar Music

Grades: High
Subjects: Social Studies/History
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Soul Music and the New Femininity

Grades: High
Subjects: ELA, General Music, Social Studies/History
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The Rise of Black Pride

Grades: High
Subjects: ELA, Social Studies/History
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Funk Asserts Itself

Grades: High
Subjects: Social Studies/History
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The Music and Poetry Behind the Red Power Movement

Grades: AP/Honors/101, High
Subjects: Social Studies/History
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“Praying” and the #MeToo Movement

Grades: High, Middle
Subjects: General Music, Social Studies/History
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#BlackLivesMatter: Music in a Movement

Grades: High, Middle
Subjects: Social Studies/History