Adult Ed
P.O.W.: Products of War



War is a powerful institution, used as much today as it has been throughout human history. War has a way of precipitating change in ways impossible by any other paradigm. The "baby-boom" generation was birthed within a year of the end of World War II. The United States economy flourished in the years after the Persian Gulf War. Songs have been sung about war and the need for peace. Poems of love and protest have emerged throughout history as the propaganda required to drive the movements that result from war. Hopes of civil liberty have been created for soldiers fighting wars in honor of their families and their country. Melodies and lyrical expressions have flowed like tears in the heart of urban America as African-Americans (and others) have strived toward the freedom found in a title-serviceman of the United States of America. This lesson will examine the role of African-Americans in times of war. The struggle for equality in the military and the artistic expressions of African-Americans will be scrutinized as the fruit grown in the toil of war.

Subject Matter

  • History/Social Studies

Learning objectives:

Students will be able to:
  • chronologically document the events and social conditions of post-war America that enabled desegregation of the U.S. armed forces
  • recognize the role of military desegregation in the Civil Rights movement
  • understand the interrelatedness of culture with policy


National Standards: (National History Standards)
Standard 2C: The student understands how liberal democracy, market economies, and human rights movements have reshaped political and social life.

Standard 2F: The student understands worldwide cultural trends of the second half of the 20th century

State Standards: (New York State Academy of Teaching and Learning)
Standard 1: History of the United States and New York: analyze the development of American culture, explaining how ideas, values, beliefs, and traditions have changed over time and how they unite all Americans

Standard 2: World History: analyze historic events from around the world by examining accounts written from different perspectives, understand the broad patterns, relationships, and interactions of cultures and civilizations during particular eras and across eras analyze changing and competing interpretations of issues, events, and developments throughout world history.


Media Components

Road to Freedom, Episode #4 (A. Phillip Randolph)

Symphonic recording of the Star Spangled Banner

Sister Act 2 Soundtrack, Track #5 "Ball of Confusion"

Jimi Hendrix Star Spangled Banner (Quicktime Audio required)

50th Anniversary of Executive Order 9981--Colin Powell Speech (1998) (Real player plug-in required)
History of the POW-MIA flag


Per class: War songs handout per cooperative groups of students: Poster board, markers or appropriate presentation software with computer access (e.g., Powerpoint, Photoshop, Printshop)

Per student:
Ball of Confusion lyrics
Focus For Media Interaction Questions, Student version
Headsets for personal listening during audio file playback

Per teacher:
Focus for Media Interaction Questions, Teacher Version
Ball of Confusion lyrics, Teacher Version

Prep for Teachers

  1. Bookmark websites
  2. Load Real Player and Quicktime plug-ins
  3. Cue video tape
  4. Prepare copies of student handouts or copy FOCUS questions on board.
  5. When using media, provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, a specific task to complete and/or information to identify during or after viewing video segments and Web sites. These FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION questions should be prepared in advance of the lesson in order to keep students on task and maintain continuity of the lesson.