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Mississippi Goddam - Nina Simone (1964)


What is protest and why do we do it?  To try and introduce this unit on protest, we're going to look at one of the all time greatest protest songs - Nina Simone's 1964 Mississippi Goddam written at a time of church bombings + assassinations.

Use the resources above and the guidelines below to answer each of the following four questions....

1) How does her song strike you as a protest?

Listen and write down the emotions you get from the song as a whole

2) What is she protesting about? 

Click on the question mark to read about her motivation for writing this song

3) How is she protesting? 

Read the lyrics by clicking on the musical symbols above - what lines stand out for you'

4) How is her song successful as a protest? 

Read about how to write a protest song by clicking on the book icon.

Protest I : Escape - Underground Railroad


So how did people in the Deep South of the USA  cope with their enslavement on the cotton plantations?  Many tried to escape, which often led to been more vicious punishment if they were caught.  To this end, a resistance movement was organised which helped arrange the escape.

This became known as the Underground Railroad, with one of its most famous leaders, or conductors, a woman called Harriet Tubman, herself an escapee from a plantation....

Use the information from the websites on the left and underneath to complete your A3 railroad diagrams displaying how the organisation worked and how Harriet Tubman found freedom and helped others...

'Follow the Drinking Gourd' lyrics and how they helped escapees available via question mark on right..
Case Study: Investigate the role of the Heritage Trail, Chicago in the Underground Railroad

Protest II : Violence - Slave revolt

What happened in 1831 in Virginia?
What happened in 1811 in Louisiania?

A completely different type of protest erupted amongst the African-American communities of the 19th century however - first of all in Louisiania (1811), and then Virginia (1831).  These happened for different reasons, and were led by very different people, but both were inescapably protests against the inhumanity of the plantations slevery system of the American Deep South.  Our focus, having researched them, will be to assess how effective was violence as a form of protest - whether it achieved or changed anything, or whether the protest just disappeared...


Your first job will be to research a slave revolt, finding out about:     

- who revolted and why;

- what violence was used and against whom;

- what happened as a result of the revolt; 

- how effective you think that revolt was.

  • In pairs, choose one of the revolts to research - use the videos above to start your research

  • Find two other, reliable digital sources that add to your knowledge about your revolt

  • Complete a Revolt Factfile answering the 4 key questions outlined above - use the Word document below right

Your second job will be share your findings with your partner and discuss:

- what caused your revolt, and what happened 

- which revolt was more violent​, using evidence to back up your decision

- which revolt was more successful as a protest and why? (again, using evidence to back up your argument)

- How successful is violence as a form of protest?

Again, make a note of your discussions using the Word document (second page) available here on the right

Protest III : Conflict - US Civil War

So having seen how violence can both create change whilst also a sometimes counter productive backlash, we can now examine how organised violence, or conflict, can act as protest.

The US Civil War (1861-65) was the most deadly war in the history of the USA with more Americans dying than in the American Revolution, WWI, WW2 and Vietnam combined.  It was fought mainly over slavery - whether to keep it as an economic + social system, or whether to abolish it.

Why did this conflict start?

What was the role of slavery?

Watch the video and complete the  attached worksheet...


So how did this protest evolve or develop?

With the growing number of escaped slaves came a growing number of accounts of the horrors of plantation life.  Alongside this evidence, the growing international condemnation of the slave trade was gathering strength. 


Many Northern states had already banned slavery, but the Deep South had multiple reasons for insisting it stay.  Its entire economy was built on slave labour, and a ban would cripple the plantations and businesses. 


Moreover, they resented being told what to do by' uppity Northerners' who they saw as having no idea about what it meant to be Southern.

The result was heading for war.....

Your job is to research how civil war started and was then fought in the USA using the text available via the book icon in the corner of the map

Make a copy of the following questions and answer with bullet point answers:

- (1) What global events were putting pressure on the US Government to abolish slavery? (pg 16) 

- (2) How did these individuals contribute to war starting? - Dred Scott; John Brown; Abraham Lincoln (pgs 16-17)

- (3) Sum up the argument over slavery from the - Northern USA perspective; and the Southern USA perspective (pgs 16-17)

- (4) 'Explain the importance of the involvement of African-Americans to the Civil War.' (pgs18-19 and read Q3 on pg 19)

Watch the CC US History video below and complete the q sheets attached via the PDF icons

How successful was war as protest?

The institution of slavery found itself abolished whilst the Civil War was still raging, with President Abraham Lincoln

issuing the Emancipation Doctrine in 1863.  However, it wasn't until the war's end that this actually became a reality with the Southern Confederate states' surrender.

The big question for the Union states now was how to replace this fundamental economic, social and political institution and with what?  Moreover, how were the defeated, yet still highly motivated white Southerners to be brought back into the Union and contribute to the USA?  For the emancipated millions of course, the key question was whether the protest of the Civil War and its successes would be for the better or for the worse.

- Using the information on the pages above, construct a timeline of Reconstruction 1865-1903, then answer Q 1 on page 21

- Then watch the CCWH video below, answering the questions on the PDF sheet attached.

- Finally, add all extra relevant information onto your Table you constructed for Q1 above + answer Q2 on page 21

Research about the Tulsa Race Massacre 1921 - to what extent had the AA community prospered post emancipation, and to what extent had nothing changed at all for them as a people?

Protest IV - Political campaigning - Civil Rights


The goals of the civil rights movements of the 1950s and 1960s were to challenge the power structures and racist legislation that had emerged out of Reconstruction following the Civil War.  On this much people agreed.  How they were to achieve this however caused great disagreement.  On one side, there was a belief that non-violence, as had been used by Mohatma Gandhi in India, was the only way to get the establishment on side and passing sympathetic legislation.  On the other, there was the conviction that only violence could meet the violence the African American community faced - something which was central to Malcolm X + the Nation of Islam's message of self defence.  First of all, we need to look at how non-violence worked as a protest...

Read the text on the left and answer qs 2 + 3 p25

How did Rosa Parks become an icon of the non-violence movement in December 1955 - read pages 26-27 + finish the activity on p27

So how had Reconstruction helped shape the 20th Century for the millions freed by the Emancipation Proclamation?  Millions headed north away from the South to find economic success and social acceptance in the industrial cities of the North...only to encounter racism and ghettoisation in their new homes.  Those that stayed found themselves subject to Jim Crow segregation and lynching.  In short, people's lives although technically free were still being controlled by the old racist power structures that existed before Emancipation.  The desire for Civil Rights and genuine freedom accelerated after WWII's fight against Fascism..and it is here we see our last case study into protest with the Civil Rights Campaigns of 1950s and 60s USA.

Watch these famous public speeches from the two main leaders within the civil rights movement of the 1960s - Dr Martin Luther King and Malcolm X...what are beliefs of the speakers, what are their goals and how will they get there?

So what challenges faced the Civil Rights Movements who were protesting against the institutional racism in the South?  Their opponents included police, the FBI, state governments and governors alongside White Citizen's Councils and organisations like the KKK.  Each one made the protestors jobs difficult and dangerous in different ways.  However, these difficulties and dangers didn't stop the protestors.  They managed to launch challenges to White power across the South in a wide number of areas - school education; university access; equal public access; transport; freedom from violence; voting rights etc..

(1) How were protestors obstructed in their protests?

(2) how successful were their protest in getting the civil rights they wanted?

Read the pages on the right and answer:

q 2 p33; q1 p35; q1 p37

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