This unit was created by Heather Renée Ingram, a high school English teacher in Chicago, IL, as part of the 2021-2022 Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellowship program. It is designed for facilitation across approximately four weeks.

For more units created by Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellows in this cohort, click here.

Unit Objectives:

Students will...

  • Research a given topic via various textual and non-textual sources
  • Compose an expository essay, paying particular attention to thesis statements, developing introductory context, analysis, and meaningful conclusion
  • Engage in a learner-led formal discussion
  • Create a digital presentation that explores the history and contemporary reality of select Land-Grant Universities

Unit Overview:

“...she was talking about how the place where she’d grown up in Oakland had changed so much, that so much development had happened there, that the there of her childhood, the there there, was gone, there was no there there anymore.”

Tommy Orange, There There

Eminent domain. A euphemism for “Get out.”

When the residents of Chavez Ravine were told by the ‘City of Angels’ that their hard-earned homes were slums and would be torn down to make way for subsidized housing, the news was wrenching but not without precedent. Through law and lawlessness, America’s storied history is littered with tales of forced displacement. Settler Colonialism. The Weeping Time. Japanese Internment. Redlining. The list goes on. Because of the often covert and insidious nature of racialized discrimination, claims of injustice are often hard to prove. The loss of land, however, can be quantified. 

In Banished but Unbowed: An American Legacy, students journey through historical points of displacement and dispossession. Such stories are, at best, underreported; at worst, they are systemically erased. In a scholarly sense, then, the who and when are as important as the how and why. No matter the instance, the impacted lives have been deemed ‘outsiders’ to America's social context and physical landscape. This paradox of rendered invisibility is both cause and effect–’ they’ are ‘other’ and, therefore, rendered invisible….’ they’ are invisible, and thus rendered ‘other.’ 

By diving into the humanity of the ‘other’ through a range of literary and informational texts, students confront these sobering historical truths. Ultimately,  tracing this trajectory leads us to contemporary communities and their continued ability to resist while thriving. In this space, students are engaged and empowered by tangible examples of the human capacity to overcome. This lesson, at once personal, academic, and civic, positions students as conscientious, empathetic, global learners. 

Performance Task:

Student-curated Digital Presentation
Students work together to create a digital museum that identifies tribal communities displaced by The Morrill Act. The website will have a home page that explores the background and history of The Morrill Act and Land-Grab Universities. The website will also include a handful of pages exploring unique universities that benefited from The Morrill Act and the Indigenous communities they displaced.

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teal halftone illustration of a young indigenous person


Indigenous Rights

Indigenous Rights