Revisiting Race and Riot: Exploring Tulsa’s Conflicts in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Image

byKrista Waldron

This unit comes from a seminar about fiction and nonfiction texts and effective pairing of the two. It addresses Common Core standards and Oklahoma state standards. The first two thirds covers the 1921 race riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We’ll look at context, causes, social themes, recovery, and the literary nature of all texts, whether fictional or informational, primary or secondary. The last third connects the riot to more recent events that include race and authority, including those we know the most: Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Freddie Gray, all of whom received international attention because their deaths seemed to be related to race and were not necessary. Included texts and sources are fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and image. The anchor fiction is Rilla Askew’s Fire in Beulah. The texts include news journalism—old and new, well-known essays, online collections of images, Harlem Renaissance and new poems. This unit was written for middle and high school classrooms. My students are middle and high school mixed into multi-grade classes. I teach at-risk and adjudicated youth who for whom social justice issues are especially relevant and for whom academics have not been a priority. Some strategies were selected with this in mind.

(Recommended for English, Language Arts, History, Social Studies, Grades 8-12)


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