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Digital Storytelling Curriculum

In efforts to expand the reach of the little-known history of forced labor in the American South after the Civil War, a standards-based curriculum, a multimedia library, teacher training videos and other related materials were initially developed to bring this film into educational spaces. These materials are available to educators on this website.

Now with the funding support of Open Society Campaign for Black Male Achievement, Twin Cities Public Television is continuing that work through Slavery by Another Name Digital Storytelling, a media-making curriculum aimed at African American and Latino boys, which has also been developed by our education partner, pride collaborative.

Slavery by Another Name Digital Storytelling will help to further educate African American and Latino boys and their teachers about how post-emancipation labor practices and laws effectively created new forms of slavery in the American South that persisted from 1865 until the beginning of World War II. The curriculum will also show how the forced labor of generations of African Americans has created long-lasting racial and economic divisions that persist to this day.

The goal is to help African American and Latino male students to connect this historic period to their present experience. The curriculum includes a media-making focus to facilitate creating audio recordings of personal narratives and engaging in meaningful civil discourse around social justice issues. The curriculum also aims to strengthen crucial “soft skills,” such as teamwork, public speaking, time management, communication, self-confidence and critical thinking, which are key to post-high school success.

We encourage you to review the following materials for more information on Getting Started implementing the curriculum.

Activity Guide 1: The Context


OVERVIEW: In this session, students will critically analyze the Thirteenth Amendment and explore how a key loophole within it was exploited to force thousands of primarily African American men into labor after the Civil War. Students will examine the vital role that labor played in the development of the South after the Civil War as it moved toward industrialization. Students will compare and contrast post-Civil War and contemporary labor systems and analyze present-day employment rates for black and Latino men.  Students will then devise recommendations to reduce the unemployment rates for black and Latino men. Using media, students will articulate how statistics only tell part of the reality of their lives. At the conclusion of this session, students will understand the historical, political, and economical context behind the forced labor systems enacted after the Civil War and how those labor systems helped to build the foundation for the industrialization of the South.

Men in Cell
Birmingham Public Library

Activity Guide 2: Black Codes & More (Representations)


OVERVIEW: This session focuses on the laws and statutes — including vagrancy statutes and pig laws — enforced by Southern states after the Civil War to assert control over the freedom, mobility and labor of the newly freed blacks. Students will closely analyze vagrancy statutes and make connections between these types of oppressive laws, the criminalizing of certain groups of people, and the rise of forced labor. Students will analyze New York’s Stop and Frisk controversy and take a position (and provide support for that position) about a number of related issues. Students will evaluate a counter narrative to the negative stereotypes of black and Latino youth. Lastly, students will create their own counter narratives, visual stories that accurately portray who they are. At the end of this session, students will understand how certain legislation, enforced by Southern states after the Civil War, was exploited to assert control over the freedom, mobility and labor of the newly freed blacks.

Cigarette Dudes
Shelby County Historical Society

Activity Guide 3: Forced Labor (Systems)


OVERVIEW: This activity guide focuses on two specific types of forced labor systems — peonage (debt slavery) and convict leasing — that were used in the South after the Civil War. Students will define peonage (debt slavery) and critically examine the convict leasing system. Students will analyze a convict labor contract and compare/contrast convict leasing and contemporary prison labor issues. Students will also research the juvenile justice system and outline recommendations for reform. At the end of this session, students will understand how the forced labor systems — debt slavery and convict leasing — operated.

Activity Guide 4: Resistance


OVERVIEW: This session focuses on different forms of civic engagement by highlighting the many voices of protest against forced labor. Students will read and analyze the transcript of a primary source document and consider what is necessary to spark legislative change. Students will evaluate the political, social, and economic progress made in America from the end of the Civil War to now. Students will develop concrete suggestions to improve America today. Lastly, students will identify practical ways for young men like themselves to be civically engaged. At the end of this session, students will understand that there are many ways to be civically engaged.

Activity Guide 5: His-Story


OVERVIEW: During this capstone session, students will explore the importance of documenting and preserving history, including present-day history. Students will create digital stories about being assets to their communities. At the end of this session, students will understand the various ways that they can be assets to their community and the process for creating an audio-based digital story.

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