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Harlem Renaissance: "The Negro Speaks of Rivers"


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Keywords: african american history, powerpoint, graphic design, layout, race relations, bookmaking
Subject(s): Art, Social Skills, Technology, Writing, Reading, English/Language Arts, Spelling, Service Learning, Civics, History
Grades 6 through 12
School: Belmont Elementary School, Philadelphia, PA
Planned By: Jeannine Cook
Original Author: Jeannine Cook, Philadelphia
Students begin by listening to Langston Hughes poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers. Have students read along as the listen/watch the poem being read. Listen to the poem 3 times, while having students underline the line in the poem that the most identify with.

Ask the students about the word Negro and where they think the word originated. Let the know that Langston Hughes, the poet, considered himself to be a Negro during what was originally called the New Negro Movement.

Have students talk about race and name some ethnicities. Ask them what the prefer to be called and why? Also ask where they think the names originated. Let them know about the Honorable Noble Drew Ali and his idea that people of color should not identify with any particular name such as black, colored, Negro, or Ethiopian--he believed that these names were given to people of color by other groups of people. Why does Langston Hughes refer to himself and his people as Negroes in this poem? Explain that during the time period early 1900s, people of African decent began to identify themselves as "New Negroes." They decided to take the name and give it power. This time period is known as the Harlem Renaissance. Have students listen to the poem once more. Does the poem sound inspirational or negative. What is Langston Hughes talking about.

Have students combine several images that are mentioned in the song from the internet. Explain that the images can just have a feeling or emotion. They don't all have to be literal.

Have students decide what images they think best tell the story of this poem to younger children.

Have them create paper layouts of their poem book along with a placeholder for their images.

Have students design images in Photoshop and then paste them into their books.

Have students present their picture/poem books to groups of younger students and read/explain the poem to them.
Materials: Point and Shoot, Digital SLR, Art Tools, Computer Accessories, English/Language Arts, Literacy, Writing, Social Studies, Word Processor, Inspiration, Authoring and Publishing, Slideshow, Internet Services, Integrating Technology