The Philadelphia Negro
This lesson will help students begin to uncover the hidden history of the Black community that once populated South Street and the Seventh Ward. Students will begin making connections between historical racial discrimination and contemporary social conditions.
- Documentary; Group discussion
The curriculum opens with a 19-minute documentary, “A Legacy of Courage: W.E.B. Du Bois and The Philadelphia Negro,” available online and on DVD. Filmed and edited primarily by high school and college students, it introduces the context and results of the research that Du Bois conducted in the Seventh Ward. It features interviews with scholars, Dr. Tukufu Zuberi and Dr. Elijah Anderson, and Philadelphia Mayor, Michael Nutter, who each explain the enduring significance of Du Bois’ work. The documentary also tells the story of the chance meeting between a black woman whose grandmother lived in the Seventh Ward and the white man who now lives in the house where her grandmother was born.
Our lesson plan provides a sample framework for discussion that educators may use and adapt to structure group discussions both before and after viewing the documentary. These questions encourage students to explore their own understandings of race, discrimination, and social inequality. After viewing the documentary, they will reflect on their reactions while working to make connections between Du Bois’ research and their own lives. Students may also share the documentary with their parents and families, asking for their insights on both historical and contemporary race-related issues.