Daily VideoFebruary 3, 2017
Why we shouldn’t forget that U.S. presidents owned slaves
Note: This video lesson contains important and serious themes from U.S. history and should be previewed before showing to your class.
- In honor of Black History Month, poet and Harvard University doctoral student Clint Smith offers his take on the history of racial inequality in the United States.
- In Smith’s collection of poems, “Counting Descent,” he addresses a letter to five presidents who owned slaves and states why Americans need to remember and acknowledge this part of our history.
- Smith discusses the important role and impact education has on a student’s understanding of U.S. history when it comes to teaching multiple perspectives and including a variety of voices from the past, including those seldom heard.
- For Smith’s poem, click HERE.
Class discussion questions
- Essential question: How does poetry allow people to discuss important issues in a way that other forms of writing may not?
- How did you feel when you heard Smith point out how presidents like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson oppressed human beings through slavery? Were you aware these men owned enslaved people?
- “Oppression doesn’t disappear just because you decided not to teach us that chapter,” Smith says in his poem. Why do you think schools neglected to teach students key parts of U.S. history, including atrocities such as the Trail of Tears, for many decades?
- Why does the U.S. have Black History Month? Do you think it’s important we have a month dedicated to African-American history? Explain your answer.
- Check out NewsHour Extra’s Black History Month resources for the classroom HERE.
Tooltip of related stories
Tooltip of more video block
Submit Your Student Voice
In this NewsHour Extra lesson plan, learn how the coronavirus relates to issues of social justice. Continue reading
In this current events lesson, check out the PBS NewsHour’s 2-minute news wrap from Mon. March 31st. Continue reading
In this NewsHour current events lesson, learn about how health care professionals are handling the challenges of the coronavirus. Continue reading
In this current events lesson, check out the PBS NewsHour from Mon. March 23rd, on the cancellation of the Olympics and an update on Afghanistan. Continue reading
In this NewsHour current events lesson. Yo-Yo Ma, one of the world’s most renowned and beloved musicians, provides comfort in this time of crisis. Continue reading