Civil Rights and Music


In Part One, we introduce students to the ethnographic methods of cultural anthropology, which were used to create Talk That Music Talk. The lessons begin by training students in anthropological understandings of culture and race, and use chapters from the book to help them prepare to critically engage the interconnection between the music of New Orleans, civil rights movements, and efforts to build movements for social justice in contemporary society.


Students will study the life histories of members of the New Orleans chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality, and their organizing work in New Orleans and around the American South. They will also spend time developing visual literacy through photographic analysis, develop active listening skills for participating in in-depth conversations and interviews, and have an opportunity to create dialogue with their classmates on the differences in the Jim Crow system in New Orleans and other parts of the South, the tactics used by supporters of integration to combat segregation, specific instances taken by groups and individuals to change laws and policies, and how musicians have participated in the struggles. They will also work together to create their own events and “moving classrooms.”




The lessons range in time from one class period to several weeks. Although they build on each other, they can also stand on their own. Teachers should feel free to organize them to fit the needs of their classrooms.