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Text Study: Letters Home

  1. Distribute the "Letters Home" Document Study to your class. Review the italicized introduction with your students. Share some basic facts about Freedom Summer (see Unit 2, Lesson 4 for more information).
  2. Have a student read Lew's letter out loud. Using the questions on the Document Study, discuss this document with your class. Try to emphasize the issues of privilege and power present in the relationships between white and African American activists in the North, and that while Jews might identify with African Americans they didn't really know what it was like to be African American. Emphasize that while the documents in this lesson explore these issues of power and privilege at an interpersonal level, they resulted from larger social structures and institutions.
  3. Have a student read Ellen's letter out loud. Using the questions on the Document Study, discuss this document with your class. Try to emphasize the issues of distrust between African Americans and whites and the difference that sometimes occurs between what we say we believe or are committed to and what our actions say.
  4. After reading both letters, ask your students the following wrap-up questions. (You may want to write their responses on the board for reference later in class.)
    1. What type of relationship did these white activists want to have with their African American counterparts? In what ways was this type of relationship realistic? In what ways wasn't it realistic? Why? What personal experiences and larger social structures got in the way of the ideals whites brought to their civil rights activism?
    2. What issues came between many white and African American activists?

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Text Study: Letters Home." (Viewed on October 30, 2014) <http://jwa.org/node/11778>.

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