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African American Childrens Culture


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Title: African American Childrens Culture

African American ChildrensCulture
  • 1960 - 1990

Study Guide Questions
  • Which civil rights act was the most effective in
    protecting the rights of African American
  • What changes were seen in the lives of African
    American children after the passage of this act?
  • How did this act affected African American
    children in more recent decades?
  • What two items were key factors in defining
    gender in African American families?
  • What are the main objectives and goals for
    African American childrens literature and what
    are the books attempting to do?
  • How does the church play a specific role in the
    socialization of children?
  • Did the Brown vs the Board of Education decision
    immediately desegregate schools?
  • Where did African Americans locate to during the
    Great Migration?
  • List two reasons why African immigrants came to
    the United States.
  • Why do some African immigrant children receive
    less academic support then their American peers?
  • Who created racial hierarchies to keep Afrian
    Americans from moving into middle class areas?

African American Childrenand theCivil Rights
African American Children and the Civil Rights
  • Study Guide Questions Which civil rights act
    was the most effective in protecting the rights
    of African American children?
  • What changes were seen in the lives of African
    American children after the passage of this act?
  • How did this act affected African American
    children in more recent decades?

The Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • President Lyndon Johnson was responsible for the
    passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • This was the first Civil Rights act since the
    Reconstruction in the 1800s.
  • This was the most powerful of all Civil Rights
    Acts of the twentieth century.
  • The passage of this act was largely due to the
    outrage over the deaths of four young girls, in
    1963, at a Birmingham Alabama church, and also
    the assassination of President Kennedy.

The Civil Rights Cont.
  • The passing of this act, along with several
    others, helped African Americans obtain full
    citizenship rights.

What Changed?
  • Despite the fact that The Civil Rights act of
    1964 was passed by congress, African American
    children and their families, living in northern
    cities, were not allowed to live in white
  • These same children were also not allowed to
    attend schools considered to be in white school

What Changed Cont.
  • Public facilities, and waiting rooms, were no
    longer segregated according to skin color.
  • African American Children were gradually
    integrated into the school system, but there were
    still problems with racial tensions, and

Affects in More Recent Decades
  • Society still has great inequality based on race,
    and many African American children suffer from
    feelings of anger and sadness.
  • Many African American children turn to drugs,
    crime, and/or join gangs.
  • Sadly, many urban African American children feel
    that their only form of upward social mobility is
    through professional sports or the entertainment

Recent Decades Cont.
  • There are many organizations dedicated to the
    civil rights of African Americans, especially
  • One organization developed 20 years ago is the
    Algebra Project which is dedicated to enhancing
    childrens opportunities through education.

Gender Roles in African American Families
  • Study Question What two items were key factors
    in defining gender in African American families?

Gender Roles
  • There is a great deal of controversy surrounding
    the configuration of African American family
    structure. While it is a fundamental component to
    family organization and child development, it has
    rarely been the focus of research on African
    American families.
  • Research on the gender role training of African
    American family is sparse, and offers
    contradictory findings. However, it has been
    found that African American children showed fewer
    gender stereotypical behaviors than did white
    children through these years, and still do today.
  • Due to slavery in previous years, black women
    were forced to devote most of their energies to
    work rather than to family life, depriving the
    African American men as their roles as
    breadwinners and heads of the family. This
    structure has carried on through the years and
    shaped the living style of most African American
    families where women were taught to be strong and
    independent rather than relying on marriage for
    economic security.

Gender Roles
  • Social class and religion were key factors in
    defining gender in African American families.
  • Children growing up in single-parent families
    were often exposed to less traditional gender
    rolesboth sons and daughters doing household
    duties and outdoor duties.
  • Parents who had at least some college education
    were most resolute in support for instilling
    norms of gender equality in their children,
    however all parents were adamant in teaching both
    girls and boys independence.
  • The more religious the family, the more they
    supported traditional gender roles for men,
    women, boys, and girls in their family.
  • Daughters were expected to be both a warrior
    and a lady in most instances.
  • Mothers are more tolerant of cross-gender-typed
    behavior in daughters than sons.

Gender Roles
  • Both fathers and mothers in dual-income families
    shared domestic work and childcare, while mothers
    did more tasks and discipline, and fathers took
    part in recreational time with the children.
  • Literature shows that African Americans sought
    acceptance, middleclass standing, and
    respectability by conforming to gender and
    marital norms of the dominant society, therefore,
    they relied on some of the traditional gender
    roles, yet also taught their own ideals, such as
    assertiveness and independence so that their
    children would become successful, wise, and
  • All in all, the practical realities of everyday
    life shaped how gender roles were done in African
    American families at that time, and still do

African American Childrens Literature
African American Childrens Literature
  • Study Guide Question What are the main
    objectives and goals for African American
    childrens literature and what are the books
    attempting to do?

History of Multicultural Literature
  • In the 1960s, less than 5 of all childrens
    books were written or illustrated by minority
  • It is due to this that parents and schools began
    to demand from publishers more books that were
    reflective of Americas cultural diversity
  • Books began by being culturally neutral,
    depicting children of different races and
    ethnicities, but not revealing details about
    their culture
  • Eventually, African American authors, such as
    Virginia Hamilton and Walter Dean Myers, began
    writing books for children which gave authentic
    details of African-American life

Types of Stories
  • Appreciation of cultural differences
  • Examples The Black Snowman, The Enchanted Hair
    Tale, Cornrows
  • Teach children to recognize differences and
    appreciate their diversity
  • Stories of history and tradition
  • Examples The Patchwork Quilt, Africa Dream
  • Teach children the history of their culture
  • Traditional folktales from Africa
  • Examples Whos in Rabbits House, Why Mosquitos
    Buzz in Peoples Ears, Anansi and the
    Moss-Covered Rock, Abiyoyo

Main Goals
  • According to experts, the goals of childrens
    literature, including multicultural literature
  • To discover commonalities among themes of
    culturally diverse groups
  • To provide awareness of the similarities among
    humans over the world
  • To instill appreciation of diverse lifestyle
    brought about by environmental conditions and
    longstanding traditions
  • To provide a way for people of all ages to
    understand and appreciate diverse cultures

African American Childrens Education
  • Study Guide Questions
  • Did the Brown vs the Board of Education decision
    immediately desegregate schools?
  • Where did African Americans locate to during the
    Great Migration?

African American Childrens Education
  • 1954 Supreme Court Decision Brown vs The Board
    of Education
  • The Supreme court ruled that segregation was
    harmful, and resulted in feelings of inferiority
    by African-Americans.
  • Schools were order to desegregate.

  • The impact of Brown vs the Board of Education was
    not immediate because of the courts original
    lack of a deadline for which desegregation was to
    be accomplished.
  • The fight to desegregate escalated during the
    1960s in both small scale protests and the civil
    rights movement.
  • The Southern states violently resisted
  • African American children who entered into
    predominately white schools faced severe
    psychological harassment and the constant threat
    of physical violence.
  • Ten years after the Brown Decision 98 of
    Southern African American children still attended
    predominately African-American Schools.

The Great Migration
  • African Americans left the Southern States en
    masse in order to escape a life of tenant
    farming. The North was considered a land of
    economic and social opportunities.
  • The 1960s was the last decade in which there was
    a significant decline in the African-American
    population in the South.
  • This resulted in large urban populations of
    African-Americans in the North. Geographic
    isolation, overcrowding and discrimination within
    school policies began to adversely affect the
    African-American children in the Northern states.

State of Education through the 1990s Separate
but Unequal?
  • Schools within heavily populated urban areas and
    the South are still largely segregated.
  • Schools which predominantly serve
    African-American children suffer from severe
  • The funding which these inner city schools
    receive is unable to cover even the most basic
    necessities (textbooks, qualified teachers,
    computers, ect).
  • These schools mainly focus upon preparing
    students for life in the service sector. Students
    are encouraged to enter into vocational tracts
    rather than pursue higher education.

African American Religion
  • Study Guide Question How does the church play a
    specific role in the socialization of children?

  • There is no single set of beliefs to which all
    African-Americans subscribe. However,
    African-Americans practice the three main
    monotheistic religions as well as Eastern and
    African religions.
  • The predominant faith is Christian
  • The second largest group of believers accept the
    ancestral religions of Africa, i.e. Vondun,
    Santeria and Myal.
  • The third group of believers practice Islam.
  • Judaism and Buddhism are also practiced by some
    within the community.
  • The African-American is spiritually oriented.
    They have learned how to weave religion into
    everything so that there is no separation between
    religion and life.

  • Children are socialized in the home, but the
    church often plays an important role.
  • Socialization takes place through rites and
    celebrations which grow out of either religious
    or cultural observances.
  • Parents introduce the Mfundalai Rites of
    Passage, or in most parts of the US Changing
    Season Rite, at an early age in order to provide
    the child with historical referents.
  • This was done in the past in the churches and
    schools where children had to recite certain
    details about heroines and heroes or about
    various aspects of African American history and
    culture in order to be considered mature in the
  • Youth groups are popular and healthy expressions
    of male and female socialization clubs.
  • Drill Teams for girls
  • Street Gangs, if delinquent, for boys.

African Immigrant Children
  • Study Guide Questions List two reasons why
    African immigrants come to the United States.
  • Why do some African immigrant children receive
    less academic support then their American peers?

African Immigrant Children
  • In the 1960s after England and France enacted
    stricter policies on immigration the U.S. saw an
    increase in African Immigration. The African
    immigrants came from all different countries,
    spoke different languages and came for many
    different reasons.
  • Some of the reasons are seeking higher
    education, being resettled as a refugee,
    obtaining political asylum, over staying a
    temporary visa or receiving a work visa for a
    specialized profession.
  • African societies are centered around the family
    being the building blocks opposed to the
    individual in the United States.
  • Most African immigrant parents tend to have less
    authority with their children in the United
    States then they would have in their country.
  • Parents will encourage their children to
    socialize with other families in their community
    from that came form the same country as them.
  • Many families will adopt extended families (ex.
    Grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles) from the
    community because in many of the African cultures
    they are very close to their extended families,
    some of which still live in their native country.

African Immigrant Children
  • Children under the age of 16 must enter school as
    soon as they arrive in the U.S.
  • Adapting to their new schools is a challenge,
    some children have had their previous schooling
    in their native country interrupted by civil wars
    or spending time in refugee camps.
  • They noticed the difference between themselves
    and their American peers their food, language,
    how they socialize. The children feel self
    conscious about this.
  • The children that are struggling may be placed in
    programs such as ESOL (English Speakers of Other
    Languages) and at South Philadelphia High School
    they have a program called Newcomers Program
    where they receive intense English and literature
  • Because many African immigrant parents do not
    understand their role in their childs education,
    the child may receive less academic support then
    their American peers.

African Immigrant Children
  • In adolescence African immigrants may be
    distressed and concerned about their cultural
    identity and belonging.
  • Many parents do not want their children to adapt
    to the average American child. To avoid this
    many parents do not allow as much freedom as many
    of the childrens American peers may have. They
    also will send their children to summer
    activities put on by African community
    associations to learn their native language and
  • Most parents want a balance for their children
    between being successful in American society and
    to also appreciate their culture.

African Immigrant Children
  • The African immigrant communities hold gatherings
    where the children can be exposed to native
    dress, language, food and traditions.
  • Some of the children, if peaceful, will go to
    visit their extended families in their native
    country for the summer and will be exposed to the
    day to day culture they miss out on in the united
  • Though this younger generation does feel as
    though they are different from their American
    peers, they enjoy their knowledge about two

Urban Renewal
  • Study Guide Question Who created racial
    hierarchies to keep Afrian Americans from moving
    into middle class areas?

Urban Renewal
  • Urban Renewal was a key factor in expelling
    African American suburbanites out of suburban
  • By 1960 suburban land-use restrictions had
    effectively stopped working-class community
    building, which characterized African American
    suburbanization since World War I.
  • Whites were worried property values would drop
    with the arrival of Black neighbors. This is
    an example of economic anxieties and of social
  • Middle-class whites and especially immigrants and
    their children, adopted the racial hierarchies to
    keep African Americans from moving into middle
    class areas so the middle-class whites and
    immigrants could make an effort to rise in status
    and stability in white American society.
  • Sterling Tucker of the National Urban League
    observed in 1962, "There appears to be a tendency
    for suburban areas seeking to rid themselves of
    unsightly areas, usually occupied by Negroes, to
    ordain a new public use for the land and to
    remove the families without providing specific
    relocation arrangements elsewhere in the
    immediate communities."
  • This movement extremely affected working-class
    blacks, who formed the majority of black
    suburbanites before the war. Beginning in the
    1940s, many suburbs took steps to demolish and
    redevelop existing black communities.
  • The expansion of land-use regulations caused most
    working-class poor blacks, such families were
    most likely to live in the dilapidated housing
    and aging neighborhoods that officials slated for
  • Elimination of these areas reduced the supply of
    affordable housing available to existing
    residents and newcomers alike, and since these
    areas often provided the first foothold for
    working families moving to the suburbs, their
    demolition foreclosed a pathway to further

African American Financial Status
  • There are about 500 incredibly wealthy and
    politically influential blacks in this country,
    almost all of them coming from wealthy families
    that have been so since receiving inheritances
    from the days of slavery.
  • Persons such as Senator Edward Brooke and Justice
    Thurgood Marshall are examples.
  • This group does not tend to associate with other
    blacks their only ties may be through the NAACP
    or the Urban League.
  • There are about 1500 black entertainers or
    athletes that have achieved wealth and prestige
    by being talented.
  • Bill Cosby and Michael Jordan are examples.
  • These people have accomplished this in only one
    generation. They have faced difficult white
    stereotyping and insensitivity.

Black Middle Class
  • This is a growing group.
  • Families in this group are usually small, stable,
    and well-planned. They compensate for financial
    instability the same as any other middle-class
  • At this level of income you also begin to notice
    the shortage of black males able to support a
    nuclear family, and there have been numerous
    examples of one-parent households making it to
    middle-class status.

Low Income African Americans
  • 2/3 of all African Americans fall into the lower
  • 1/3 is below the poverty line.
  • Typical occupations for low income African
    American families
  • Truck driving, industrial jobs, construction,
    auto mechanics.
  • Values
  • Hard work, college education, better life for
  • Hardships
  • Color barriers preventing them from getting
  • Disproportionate number of contacts with social
    workers and police officers.
  • They have become societys scapegoat for the
    taxpayers frustrations.
  • Stereotypes
  • The lower-lower class black has become the
    stereotype of all blacks in America, which
    results in social class discrimination.

Children Facts
  • Infant Mortality Rate
  • The infant mortality rate for blacks in America
    is one of the highest in the world, higher than
    any industrialized country, and higher than some
    third world countries.
  • Child Mortality Rate
  • African American children in the 1-4 age range
    have mortality rates twice that of white
  • Teen Mortality Rate
  • Black Teenagers have mortality rates 10 times
    that of whites, and homicide is a leading cause
    of death.
  • Percentage-wise, there are fewer blacks now in
    America than during slavery.

African American Students and Schools
  • African American children and adolescents are
    still not faring well in the American educational
    system (Braddock Dawkins, 1993 Irvine, 1991
    Shujaa, 1995).
  • They are failing, being retained and dropping out
    in record numbers.
  • Their attitudes toward the role of education in
    their lives arise from interactions with people
    and institutions.
  • When constantly put into lower classes and
    associating with others that do not value
    education, as in older siblings, and friends,
    children come to see education as a burden not a

When asked each question, students answered what
they thought they were most likely or not likely
to achieve, these are their answers.
Table 1 Educational Aspirations Total Poor Nonpo
or n () n () n() Will Not Finish High
School 42 (1.4) 21 (2.6) 15 (0.7) Will Finnish
High School 247 (8.2) 99 (12.1) 140
(6.5) Vocational, Trade, Business 307 (10.2) 112
(13.7) 168 (7.9) After High School Will Attend
College 490 ( 16.3) 157 (19.1) 310 (14.5) Will
Finish College 1186 (39.4) 259 (31.6) 888
(41.5) Graduate/Professional School 737
(24.5) 172 (21.0) 619 (28.9) Total 3009 820 2
140 Source U.S. Department of Education,
National Center for Education Statistics (1990),
NELS 88 Base year student survey. 13 poor and
26 non-poor missing cases not included.
  • One of the factors to this is the parents
    education levels which were low, in low income
  • Cultural Capital is the Cultural background,
    knowledge base, skills, and attitudes that
    families transmit to their children, such as
    taste in art and music, religion, way of talking,
    and manners (Bordieu, 1977 Bourdieu Passeron,
    1977). Often, cultural traits are linked to
    social class.

  • Anderson, Karen. The Little Rock School
    Desegregation Crises Moderation and Social
    Conflict The Journal of Southern History 70.3
    (Aug 2004) 34 pgs Online. PROQUEST. 17.
    Jan. 2005.
  • Andersen, M.L. Collins, P.H. (1998) Race,
    Class, and Gender An Anthology (3rd ed.)
    Belmont, CA. Wadsworth
  • Asante, Molefi Kete, (1995) African American
    History A Journey of Liberation. Maywood, N. J.
    Peoples Publishing Group.
  • Banner-Haley, Charles Pete T. (1994) The Fruits
    of Integration Black Middle-class Ideology and
    Culture, 1960-1970. Jackson, MI. University
    Press of Mississippi.
  • Baughman, E. Earl (1971) Black Americans. New
    York Academic Press. 
  • Carson, Clayborne. Two Cheers for Brown v.
    Board of Education The Journal of American
    History 91.1 (Jun 2004) 6pgs Online.
    PROQUEST. 17 Jan 2005.
  • Chatters, Linda M. (1997) Family Life in Black
    America. California. Sage Publications.
  • Down Trough the Years African American Stories
    for Children. African American Resources.
    African American History and Culture.
    Smithsonian Institution. 1996.
  • Hoobler, Dorothy Thomas. (1995). The African
    American Family Album. New York, New York
    Oxford University Press Inc.
  • Falk, W William. Return Migrations of
    African-Americans to the South Reclaiming a
    Land of Promise, Going
  • Hill, Shirley A. (2002) Sex Roles A Journal of
    Research Teaching and doing gender in African
    American Families.
  • Home, or Both? Rural Sociology. 60.4 (Dec
    2004) 20 pgs Online. PROQUEST. 17 Jan 2005.
  • Kozol, Jonathan. Savage Inequalities Children
    in Americas Schools. New York Crown
    Publishers, 1991.
  • Kusimo, Patricia. Rural African Americans and
    Education The Legacy of the Brown Decision.
    Eric Digest (Jan 1999) 8 pgs Online. ERIC.
    17 Jan 2005.
  • Ladson-Billings, Gloria. Landing on the Wrong
    Note. Educational Researcher
  • 33. 7 (Oct. 2004) 11 pgs Online. PROQUEST.
    17 Jan 2005.
  • Lanehart, Wendy and Ramsey, Inez. African
    American Bibliography Books for Children. James
    Madison University. http//
  • Lewis, D.K. (1975) The Black Family
    Socialization and Sex Roles. Phylon, 36, 221-238.
  • Library of Congress, The. (2002, March
    15).African American Odyssey. (online), 2005,
    January 24. http//

Bibliography Continued
  • Lewis, D.K. (1975) The Black Family
    Socialization and Sex Roles. Phylon, 36, 221-238.
  • Library of Congress, The. (2002, March
    15).African American Odyssey. (online), 2005,
    January 24. http//
  • Moses, Robert P., Cobb, Charles E. Jr. (2001,
    May/June). Quality Education is a Civil Rights
    Issue. (online), 2005, January 24.
  • National Park Service, The. (n.d.). Sixteenth
    Street Baptist Church. (online), 2005, January
    23. http//
  • Patton, Joyce. African American Folktakes and
    their Use in an Integrated Curriculum. Yale-New
    Haven Teachers Institute. 2005.
  • Petty, Pam. Common Themes Found in Childrens
    Literature Around the World. Presented at 17th
    World Congress on Reading, Ocho Rios, Jamaica.
    July 21-24, 1998. http//
  • Professor Fairclough, Adam. (2003, January 4).
    Better Day Coming Civil Rights in America in the
    20th Century. (online), 2005, January 24.
  • Professor Grenfell, Christopher (2004,
    September). Sport and Social Stratification.
    Outline presented in a classroom lecture at
    California State University,
  • San Bernardino, CA.
  • Religion-Online. Retrieved January 27, 2005, from
  • Swigart, Leigh.Extended Lives The African
    immigrant Experience in Philadelphia. 2001. A
    Balch Institiute Community Profile. (retrieved
    on February 4, 2005). http//
  • Takyi, Baffour K. The Making of the Second
    Diaspora on the Recent African Immigrant
    Community in the United Sates. Western Journal
    of Black Studies. Spring 2002. Vol. 26. Iss. 1.
    pg 32.
  • Transcript from PBS. (1997, February 18). A
    Class of One. (Online), 2005, January 24.
  • Ware, Susan. American women. http//
  • Wolters, Raymond. The Intolerable Burden The
    Journal of American History. 91.3 (Dec 2004)
    3 pgs Online. PROQUEST. 17 Jan 2005.
  • Underdown, Harold. The Roots of the Field.
    Writing and Illustrating Multicultural Childrens
    Books. 1995. http//

Books which were shown in picture and referenced
  • Aardema, Verna. Whos In Rabbits House? New
    York. Penguin Books USA. 1969.
  • Aardema, Verna. Why Mosquitos Buzz In Peoples
    Ears. New York. The Dial Press. 1975.
  • Clifton, Lucille. The Boy Who Didnt Believe in
    Spring. New York. Dutton Childrens Books. 1973.
  • De Veaux, Alexis. An Enchanted Hair Tale. New
    York. Harpertrophy. 1987.
  • Flournoy, Valerie. The Patchwork Quilt. New York.
    Penguin Books USA. 1985.
  • Greenfield, Eloise. Africa Dream. New York.
    Harpertrophy. 1977.
  • Humphrey, Margo. The River that Gave Gifts. San
    Francisco. Childrens Book Press. 1978.
  • Kimmel, Eric. Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock.
    New York. Holiday House. 1988.
  • Mendez, Phil. The Black Snowman. New York.
    Scholastic, Inc. 1987.