African American Children’s
Culture
1960 - 1990
Study Guide Questions
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Which civil rights act was the most effective in protecting the rights of African
American children?
What changes were seen in the lives of African American children after the passage
of this act?
How did this act affected African American children in more recent decades?
What two items were key factors in defining gender in African American families?
What are the main objectives and goals for African American children’s literature and
what are the books attempting to do?
How does the church play a specific role in the socialization of children?
Did the Brown vs the Board of Education decision immediately desegregate schools?
Where did African Americans locate to during the Great Migration?
List two reasons why African immigrants came to the United States.
Why do some African immigrant children receive less academic support then their
American peers?
Who created racial hierarchies to keep Afrian Americans from moving into middle
class areas?
African American Children
and the
Civil Rights Movement
African American Children and the
Civil Rights Movement
• Study Guide Questions: Which civil rights
act was the most effective in protecting the
rights of African American children?
• What changes were seen in the lives of
African American children after the
passage of this act?
• How did this act affected African American
children in more recent decades?
The Civil Rights Act of 1964
• President Lyndon Johnson was responsible for the
passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
• This was the first Civil Rights act since the
Reconstruction in the 1800’s.
• This was the most powerful of all Civil Rights Acts of the
twentieth century.
• The passage of this act was largely due to the outrage
over the deaths of four young girls, in 1963, at a
Birmingham Alabama church, and also the assassination
of President Kennedy.
The Civil Rights Cont.
• The passing of this act, along with several
others, helped African Americans obtain
full citizenship rights.
What Changed?
• Despite the fact that The Civil Rights act of
1964 was passed by congress, African
American children and their families, living
in northern cities, were not allowed to live
in “white” neighborhoods.
• These same children were also not
allowed to attend schools considered to be
in “white” school districts.
What Changed Cont.
• Public facilities, and waiting rooms, were
no longer segregated according to skin
color.
• African American Children were gradually
integrated into the school system, but
there were still problems with racial
tensions, and segregation.
Affects in More Recent Decades
• Society still has great inequality based on race,
and many African American children suffer from
feelings of anger and sadness.
• Many African American children turn to drugs,
crime, and/or join gangs.
• Sadly, many urban African American children
feel that their only form of upward social mobility
is through professional sports or the
entertainment industry.
Recent Decades Cont.
• There are many organizations dedicated
to the civil rights of African Americans,
especially children.
• One organization developed 20 years ago
is the Algebra Project which is dedicated
to enhancing children’s opportunities
through education.
Gender Roles in African American
Families
• Study Question: What two items were key
factors in defining gender in African
American families?
Gender Roles
• There is a great deal of controversy surrounding the configuration of
African American family structure. While it is a fundamental
component to family organization and child development, it has
rarely been the focus of research on African American families.
• Research on the gender role training of African American family is
sparse, and offers contradictory findings. However, it has been
found that African American children showed fewer gender
stereotypical behaviors than did white children through these years,
and still do today.
• Due to slavery in previous years, black women were forced to
devote most of their energies to work rather than to family life,
depriving the African American men as their roles as breadwinners
and heads of the family. This structure has carried on through the
years and shaped the living style of most African American families
where women were taught to be strong and independent rather than
relying on marriage for economic security.
Gender Roles
• Social class and religion were key factors in defining gender in
African American families.
• Children growing up in single-parent families were often exposed to
less traditional gender roles…both sons and daughters doing
household duties and outdoor duties.
• Parents who had at least some college education were most
resolute in support for instilling norms of gender equality in their
children, however all parents were adamant in teaching both girls
and boys independence.
• The more religious the family, the more they supported traditional
gender roles for men, women, boys, and girls in their family.
• Daughters were expected to be both a “warrior” and a “lady” in most
instances.
• Mothers are more tolerant of cross-gender-typed behavior in
daughters than sons.
Gender Roles
• Both fathers and mothers in dual-income families shared
domestic work and childcare, while mothers did more
tasks and discipline, and fathers took part in recreational
time with the children.
• Literature shows that African Americans sought
acceptance, middleclass standing, and “respectability”
by conforming to gender and marital norms of the
dominant society, therefore, they relied on some of the
traditional gender roles, yet also taught their own ideals,
such as assertiveness and independence so that their
children would become successful, wise, and self-reliant.
• All in all, the practical realities of everyday life shaped
how gender roles were done in African American families
at that time, and still do today.
African American Children’s
Literature
African American Children’s
Literature
• Study Guide Question: What are the main
objectives and goals for African American
children’s literature and what are the
books attempting to do?
History of Multicultural
Literature
• In the 1960’s, less than 5% of all children’s books
were written or illustrated by minority groups
• It is due to this that parents and schools began to
demand from publishers more books that were
reflective of America’s cultural diversity
• Books began by being culturally neutral, depicting
children of different races and ethnicities, but not
revealing details about their culture
• Eventually, African American authors, such as
Virginia Hamilton and Walter Dean Myers, began
writing books for children which gave authentic
details of African-American life
Types of Stories
• Appreciation of cultural differences
– Examples: The Black Snowman, The Enchanted
Hair Tale, Cornrows
– Teach children to recognize differences and
appreciate their diversity
• Stories of history and tradition
– Examples: The Patchwork Quilt, Africa Dream
– Teach children the history of their culture
• Traditional folktales from Africa
– Examples: Who’s in Rabbit’s House, Why
Mosquitos Buzz in People’s Ears, Anansi and the
Moss-Covered Rock, Abiyoyo
Main Goals
According to experts, the goals of children’s
literature, including multicultural literature
includes:
• To discover commonalities among themes of culturally
diverse groups
• To provide awareness of the similarities among humans
over the world
• To instill appreciation of diverse lifestyle brought about
by environmental conditions and longstanding traditions
• To provide a way for people of all ages to understand
and appreciate diverse cultures
African American Children’s
Education
• Study Guide Questions:
• Did the Brown vs the Board of Education
decision immediately desegregate
schools?
• Where did African Americans locate to
during the Great Migration?
African American Children’s
Education
• 1954 Supreme Court Decision: Brown vs
The Board of Education
• The Supreme court ruled that segregation
was harmful, and resulted in feelings of
inferiority by African-Americans.
• Schools were order to desegregate.
Desegregation
• The impact of Brown vs the Board of Education was not
immediate because of the court’s original lack of a
deadline for which desegregation was to be
accomplished.
• The fight to desegregate escalated during the 1960’s in
both small scale protests and the civil rights movement.
• The Southern states violently resisted desegregation
• African American children who entered into
predominately white schools faced severe psychological
harassment and the constant threat of physical violence.
• Ten years after the Brown Decision 98% of Southern
African American children still attended predominately
African-American Schools.
The Great Migration
• African Americans left the Southern States en
masse in order to escape a life of tenant
farming. The North was considered a land of
economic and social opportunities.
• The 1960’s was the last decade in which there
was a significant decline in the African-American
population in the South.
• This resulted in large urban populations of
African-Americans in the North. Geographic
isolation, overcrowding and discrimination within
school policies began to adversely affect the
African-American children in the Northern states.
State of Education through the 1990’s:
Separate but Unequal?
• Schools within heavily populated urban areas
and the South are still largely segregated.
• Schools which predominantly serve AfricanAmerican children suffer from severe inequities.
• The funding which these inner city schools
receive is unable to cover even the most basic
necessities (textbooks, qualified teachers,
computers, ect).
• These schools mainly focus upon preparing
students for life in the service sector. Students
are encouraged to enter into vocational tracts
rather than pursue higher education.
African American Religion
• Study Guide Question: How does the
church play a specific role in the
socialization of children?
Religion
• There is no single set of beliefs to which all AfricanAmericans subscribe. However, African-Americans
practice the three main monotheistic religions as well as
Eastern and African religions.
• The predominant faith is Christian
• The second largest group of believers accept the
ancestral religions of Africa, i.e. Vondun, Santeria and
Myal.
• The third group of believers practice Islam.
• Judaism and Buddhism are also practiced by some
within the community.
• The African-American is spiritually oriented. They have
learned how to weave religion into everything so that
there is no separation between religion and life.
Religion
• Children are socialized in the home, but the church often plays an
important role.
• Socialization takes place through rites and celebrations which grow
out of either religious or cultural observances.
• Parents introduce the “Mfundalai Rites of Passage”, or in most parts
of the US “Changing Season Rite”, at an early age in order to
provide the child with historical referents.
• This was done in the past in the churches and schools where
children had to recite certain details about heroines and heroes or
about various aspects of African American history and culture in
order to be considered mature in the culture.
• Youth groups are popular and healthy expressions of male and
female socialization clubs.
• Drill Teams for girls
• “Street Gangs”, if delinquent, for boys.
African Immigrant Children
• Study Guide Questions: List two reasons
why African immigrants come to the
United States.
• Why do some African immigrant children
receive less academic support then their
American peers?
African Immigrant Children
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In the 1960s after England and France enacted stricter policies on immigration the
U.S. saw an increase in African Immigration. The African immigrants came from all
different countries, spoke different languages and came for many different reasons.
Some of the reasons are: seeking higher education, being resettled as a refugee,
obtaining political asylum, over staying a temporary visa or receiving a work visa for a
specialized profession.
African societies are centered around the family being the building blocks opposed to
the individual in the United States.
Most African immigrant parents tend to have less authority with their children in the
United States then they would have in their country.
Parents will encourage their children to socialize with other families in their
community from that came form the same country as them.
Many families will adopt extended families (ex. Grandparents, cousins, aunts and
uncles) from the community because in many of the African cultures they are very
close to their extended families, some of which still live in their native country.
African Immigrant Children
• Children under the age of 16 must enter school as soon as they
arrive in the U.S.
• Adapting to their new schools is a challenge, some children have
had their previous schooling in their native country interrupted by
civil wars or spending time in refugee camps.
• They noticed the difference between themselves and their American
peers; their food, language, how they socialize. The children feel
self conscious about this.
• The children that are struggling may be placed in programs such as
ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages) and at South
Philadelphia High School they have a program called Newcomer’s
Program where they receive intense English and literature training.
• Because many African immigrant parents do not understand their
role in their child’s education, the child may receive less academic
support then their American peers.
African Immigrant Children
• In adolescence African immigrants may be distressed
and concerned about their cultural identity and
belonging.
• Many parents do not want their children to adapt to the
average American child. To avoid this many parents do
not allow as much freedom as many of the children’s
American peers may have. They also will send their
children to summer activities put on by African
community associations to learn their native language
and culture.
• Most parents want a balance for their children between
being successful in American society and to also
appreciate their culture.
African Immigrant Children
• The African immigrant communities hold gatherings
where the children can be exposed to native dress,
language, food and traditions.
• Some of the children, if peaceful, will go to visit their
extended families in their native country for the summer
and will be exposed to the day to day culture they miss
out on in the united States.
• Though this younger generation does feel as though
they are different from their American peers, they enjoy
their knowledge about two cultures.
Urban Renewal
• Study Guide Question: Who created racial
hierarchies to keep Afrian Americans from
moving into middle class areas?
Urban Renewal
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Urban Renewal was a key factor in expelling African American suburbanites out of suburban
communities.
By 1960 suburban land-use restrictions had effectively stopped working-class community
building, which characterized African American suburbanization since World War I.
Whites were worried property values would drop with the arrival of “Black” neighbors. This is
an example of economic anxieties and of social privilege.
Middle-class whites and especially immigrants and their children, adopted the racial
hierarchies to keep African Americans from moving into middle class areas so the middleclass whites and immigrants could make an effort to rise in status and stability in white
American society.
Sterling Tucker of the National Urban League observed in 1962, "There appears to be a
tendency for suburban areas seeking to rid themselves of unsightly areas, usually occupied
by Negroes, to ordain a new public use for the land and to remove the families without
providing specific relocation arrangements elsewhere in the immediate communities."
This movement extremely affected working-class blacks, who formed the majority of black
suburbanites before the war. Beginning in the 1940s, many suburbs took steps to demolish
and redevelop existing black communities.
The expansion of land-use regulations caused most working-class poor blacks, such families
were most likely to live in the “dilapidated housing” and aging neighborhoods that officials
slated for demolition.
Elimination of these areas reduced the supply of affordable housing available to existing
residents and newcomers alike, and since these areas often provided the first foothold for
working families moving to the suburbs, their demolition foreclosed a pathway to further
migration.
African American Financial Status
– There are about 500 incredibly wealthy and politically
influential blacks in this country, almost all of them
coming from wealthy families that have been so since
receiving inheritances from the days of slavery.
• Persons such as Senator Edward Brooke and Justice
Thurgood Marshall are examples.
• This group does not tend to associate with other blacks; their
only ties may be through the NAACP or the Urban League.
– There are about 1500 black entertainers or athletes
that have achieved wealth and prestige by being
talented.
• Bill Cosby and Michael Jordan are examples.
• These people have accomplished this in only one generation.
They have faced difficult white stereotyping and insensitivity.
Black Middle Class
– This is a growing group.
– Families in this group are usually small,
stable, and well-planned. They compensate
for financial instability the same as any other
middle-class family.
– At this level of income you also begin to
notice the shortage of black males able to
support a nuclear family, and there have been
numerous examples of one-parent
households making it to middle-class status.
Low Income African Americans
– 2/3 of all African Americans fall into the lower classes.
– 1/3 is below the poverty line.
– Typical occupations for low income African American families
• Truck driving, industrial jobs, construction, auto mechanics.
– Values
• Hard work, college education, better life for children
– Hardships
• Color barriers preventing them from getting ahead.
• Disproportionate number of contacts with social workers and police
officers.
– They have become society’s scapegoat for the taxpayer’s
frustrations.
– Stereotypes
• The lower-lower class black has become the stereotype of all blacks
in America, which results in social class discrimination.
Children Facts
– Infant Mortality Rate
• The infant mortality rate for blacks in America is one of the
highest in the world, higher than any industrialized country,
and higher than some third world countries.
– Child Mortality Rate
– African American children in the 1-4 age range have mortality
rates twice that of white children.
– Teen Mortality Rate
– Black Teenagers have mortality rates 10 times that of whites,
and homicide is a leading cause of death.
• Percentage-wise, there are fewer blacks now in America than
during slavery.
African American Students and
Schools
– African American children and adolescents are still
not faring well in the American educational system
(Braddock & Dawkins, 1993; Irvine, 1991; Shujaa,
1995).
– They are failing, being retained and dropping out in
record numbers.
– Their attitudes toward the role of education in their
lives arise from interactions with people and
institutions.
• When constantly put into lower classes and associating with
others that do not value education, as in older siblings, and
friends, children come to see education as a burden not a
privilege.
When asked each question, students answered what they thought they
were most likely or not likely to achieve, these are their answers.
Table 1
Educational Aspirations
Total
Poor
Nonpoor
n (%)
n (%)
n(%)
Will Not Finish High School 42 (1.4)
21 (2.6)
15 (0.7)
Will Finnish High School
99 (12.1)
140 (6.5)
112 (13.7)
168 (7.9)
247 (8.2)
Vocational, Trade, Business 307 (10.2)
After High School
Will Attend College
490 ( 16.3)
157 (19.1)
310 (14.5)
Will Finish College
1186 (39.4)
259 (31.6)
888 (41.5)
Graduate/Professional School 737 (24.5)
172 (21.0)
619 (28.9)
Total
820*
2140*
3009
Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics
(1990), NELS: 88 Base year student survey.
*13 poor and 26 non-poor missing cases not included.
• One of the factors to this is the parents
education levels which were low, in low
income families.
– Cultural Capital is the Cultural background,
knowledge base, skills, and attitudes that
families transmit to their children, such as
taste in art and music, religion, way of talking,
and manners (Bordieu, 1977; Bourdieu &
Passeron, 1977). Often, cultural traits are
linked to social class.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
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Anderson, Karen. “The Little Rock School Desegregation Crises: Moderation and Social Conflict” The Journal of Southern History 70.3 (Aug 2004):
34 pgs Online.
PROQUEST. 17. Jan. 2005.
Andersen, M.L. & Collins, P.H. (1998) Race, Class, and Gender: An Anthology (3rd ed.) Belmont, CA. Wadsworth
Asante, Molefi Kete, (1995) African American History: A Journey of Liberation. Maywood, N. J.: Peoples
Publishing Group.
Banner-Haley, Charles Pete T. (1994) The Fruits of Integration: Black Middle-class Ideology and Culture, 1960-1970. Jackson, MI.
University Press of Mississippi.
Baughman, E. Earl (1971) Black Americans. New York: Academic Press.
Carson, Clayborne. “Two Cheers for Brown v. Board of Education” The Journal of American History 91.1 (Jun 2004): 6pgs Online. PROQUEST.
17 Jan 2005.
Chatters, Linda M. (1997) Family Life in Black America. California. Sage Publications.
“Down Trough the Years’: African American Stories for Children.” African American Resources. African American History and Culture. Smithsonian
Institution.
1996. http://www.si.edu/resource/faq/nmah/youngrdr.htm
Hoobler, Dorothy & Thomas. (1995). The African American Family Album. New York, New York: Oxford University Press Inc.
Falk, W William. “Return Migrations of African-Americans to the South: Reclaiming a Land of Promise, Going
Hill, Shirley A. (2002) Sex Roles: A Journal of Research: Teaching and doing gender in African American Families. www.findarticles.com
Home, or Both?” Rural Sociology. 60.4 (Dec 2004): 20 pgs Online. PROQUEST. 17 Jan 2005.
Kozol, Jonathan. Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools. New York: Crown Publishers, 1991.
Kusimo, Patricia. “Rural African Americans and Education: The Legacy of the Brown Decision. Eric Digest (Jan 1999): 8 pgs Online. ERIC. 17 Jan
2005.
Ladson-Billings, Gloria. “Landing on the Wrong Note.” Educational Researcher
33. 7 (Oct. 2004): 11 pgs Online. PROQUEST. 17 Jan 2005.
Lanehart, Wendy and Ramsey, Inez. “African American Bibliography Books for Children.” James Madison University. http://falcon.jmu.edu/~ramseyil/mulafro.htm
Lewis, D.K. (1975) The Black Family: Socialization and Sex Roles. Phylon, 36, 221-238.
Library of Congress, The. (2002, March 15).African American Odyssey. (online), 2005, January 24. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/aaohtml/exhibit/aopart9b.html
Moses, Robert P., & Cobb, Charles E. Jr. (2001, May/June). Quality Education is a Civil Rights Issue. (online), 2005, January 24.
http://www.edletter.org/past/issues/2001-mj/civilrights.shtml
National Park Service, The. (n.d.). Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. (online), 2005, January 23. http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/ciivilrights/al11.htm
Patton, Joyce. “African American Folktakes and their Use in an Integrated Curriculum.” Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. 2005.
http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1993/2/93.02.08.x.html
Petty, Pam. “Common Themes Found in Children’s Literature Around the World.” Presented at 17th World Congress on Reading, Ocho Rios, Jamaica. July 21-24,
1998. http://www.pampetty.com/jamaica.htm
Professor Fairclough, Adam. (2003, January 4). Better Day Coming: Civil Rights in America in the 20th Century. (online), 2005, January 24.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/society_culture/protest_reform/civil_rights_america_05.shtml
Professor Grenfell, Christopher (2004, September). Sport and Social Stratification. Outline presented in a classroom lecture at California State University,
San Bernardino, CA.
Religion-Online. Retrieved January 27, 2005, from www.religion-online.com
Swigart, Leigh.”Extended Lives: The African immigrant Experience in Philadelphia.” 2001. A Balch Institiute Community Profile.
(retrieved on February 4, 2005).
http://www.hsp.org/files/AI_profile_article.pdf.
Transcript from PBS. (1997, February 18). A Class of One. (Online), 2005, January 24. http://www.pbs.org/newshour//bb/race_relations/jan-june97/bridges_2-18.html
Ware, Susan. American women. http://memory.loc.gov
Wolters, Raymond. “The Intolerable Burden” The Journal of American History. 91.3 (Dec 2004): 3 pgs Online. PROQUEST. 17 Jan 2005.
Underdown, Harold. “The Roots of the Field.” Writing and Illustrating Multicultural Children’s Books. 1995. http://www.underdown.org/multicul.htm
Bibliography Continued
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Lewis, D.K. (1975) The Black Family: Socialization and Sex Roles. Phylon, 36, 221-238.
Library of Congress, The. (2002, March 15).African American Odyssey. (online), 2005, January 24.
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/aaohtml/exhibit/aopart9b.html
Moses, Robert P., & Cobb, Charles E. Jr. (2001, May/June). Quality Education is a Civil Rights Issue. (online), 2005, January 24.
http://www.edletter.org/past/issues/2001-mj/civilrights.shtml
National Park Service, The. (n.d.). Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. (online), 2005, January 23.
http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/ciivilrights/al11.htm
Patton, Joyce. “African American Folktakes and their Use in an Integrated Curriculum.” Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. 2005.
http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1993/2/93.02.08.x.html
Petty, Pam. “Common Themes Found in Children’s Literature Around the World.” Presented at 17th World Congress on Reading, Ocho
Rios, Jamaica. July 21-24,
1998. http://www.pampetty.com/jamaica.htm
Professor Fairclough, Adam. (2003, January 4). Better Day Coming: Civil Rights in America in the 20th Century. (online), 2005, January
24. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/society_culture/protest_reform/civil_rights_america_05.shtml
Professor Grenfell, Christopher (2004, September). Sport and Social Stratification. Outline presented in a classroom lecture at California
State University,
San Bernardino, CA.
Religion-Online. Retrieved January 27, 2005, from www.religion-online.com
Swigart, Leigh.”Extended Lives: The African immigrant Experience in Philadelphia.” 2001. A Balch Institiute Community Profile.
(retrieved on February 4, 2005).
http://www.hsp.org/files/AI_profile_article.pdf.
Takyi, Baffour K. “The Making of the Second Diaspora: on the Recent African Immigrant Community in the United Sates. Western
Journal of Black Studies. Spring 2002. Vol. 26. Iss. 1. pg 32.
Transcript from PBS. (1997, February 18). A Class of One. (Online), 2005, January 24.
http://www.pbs.org/newshour//bb/race_relations/jan-june97/bridges_2-18.html
Ware, Susan. American women. http://memory.loc.gov
Wolters, Raymond. “The Intolerable Burden” The Journal of American History. 91.3 (Dec 2004): 3 pgs Online. PROQUEST. 17 Jan
2005.
Underdown, Harold. “The Roots of the Field.” Writing and Illustrating Multicultural Children’s Books. 1995.
http://www.underdown.org/multicul.htm
Books which were shown in picture and referenced to:
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Aardema, Verna. Who’s In Rabbit’s House? New York. Penguin Books USA.
1969.
Aardema, Verna. Why Mosquitos Buzz In People’s Ears. New York. The Dial
Press. 1975.
Clifton, Lucille. The Boy Who Didn’t Believe in Spring. New York. Dutton
Children’s Books. 1973.
De Veaux, Alexis. An Enchanted Hair Tale. New York. Harpertrophy. 1987.
Flournoy, Valerie. The Patchwork Quilt. New York. Penguin Books USA.
1985.
Greenfield, Eloise. Africa Dream. New York. Harpertrophy. 1977.
Humphrey, Margo. The River that Gave Gifts. San Francisco. Children’s
Book Press. 1978.
Kimmel, Eric. Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock. New York. Holiday
House. 1988.
Mendez, Phil. The Black Snowman. New York. Scholastic, Inc. 1987.
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