The Great Depression: How the Black and Brown People Endured it All

Jashonai Payne, Fifth Grade, Clear Creek Elementary School

Final Unit (PDF)     Implementing Common Core Standards (PDF)

200 Word Synopsis

When studying the Great Depression, there are many images and stories of poor suffering white Americans that can be found in books and on the internet. However, there is a dearth of literature, images, and information about the plight of African Americans and Latino/Hispanic Americans during the same time period. As a result, my unit highlights the children’s literature novels entitled Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan and The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis. In these novels, the stories of a Mexican family and an African American family and their experiences during the Great Depression are weaved through these heartfelt books for children. We will compare their characters, settings, and events in order to find the similarities and differences of Esperanza’s story set in rural California as migrant farm workers and Deza’s story which takes place in urban landscapes such as Gary, Indiana and Flint, Michigan, as they both struggle to keep their families together. In the second part of my unit, my students will research famous African Americans and Latino/Hispanic Americans that are not well known, but are equally important. They will complete biography reports and make bio-poems which they will share in a class poetry jam. With these activities, I hope to increase the awareness of the crucial contributions these cultural groups bring to our American society. In this way, the stories of the Brown and Black people of the United States will be given a greater voice in the lives of my students.