“This small community’s collective agency reflected the determination of African Americans nationwide to be free from the corrosive effects of racial segregation.” - Historian Dr. Randal Jelks
In this lesson, students will take a ‘virtual tour’ of Grand Rapids by following a map linked to artifacts and newspaper stories from the GRPM Collections. Students will use Grand Rapids as a case study of the experiences of the first migrants out of the South by contextualizing the period right after the Civil War as the Freedman’s Bureau brought Black laborers to work in the city for the first time. Students will then follow the migration patterns of participants of the Great Migration and learn the strategies employed by the local Black community in conjunction with the NAACP to battle segregation and press the Michigan Supreme Court into action in the late 1920s.
In 2021 the Grand Rapids Public Museum, funded through a grant from Steelcase Inc. partnered with East Kentwood Highschool Teacher, Matt Vriesman, to develop curriculum inspired by a GRPM exhibition, Windows GR. The curriculum utilizes the GRPM Digital Collections to teach about local Black leaders and efforts to battle racial segregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan in the early 1900s. The lessons are also published on Matt Vriesman’s website, Antiracist APUSH .
View the lesson plan, slide deck and student handout