The central historical question for this lesson is: How (and why) did images of African Americans in advertising change during the 1900s? In analyzing individual advertisements and then comparing them, students will be able to trace changing perspectives on the role of African Americans in American society.
Though students do not need specific historical understanding for this lesson, a very general understanding of the timeline of the long civil rights movement in American history will be helpful.
Please note that some of the historical documents included in this lesson depict African Americans in a demeaning and negative way; indeed, the nature of those depictions is the focus of inquiry for this unit. For this reason, this lesson will be most successful in a context where students have practice addressing sensitive topics with respect and in a spirit of academic inquiry.