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


Introductory Activity
Learning Activity
Culminating Activity
Cross-Curricular Extensions
Community Connections

Introductory Activity: Setting The Stage

Step 1 Ask students to identify ways of knowing the mood of a song. (Usually happy music has a simple melody of high pitch instruments and "happy" lyrics. Romance music usually has string instruments with slower tempo. Both examples usually have harmonic sounds with little deviation. If a music wants to suggest conflict, the use of drums or staccato beats may elicit that kind of response in the listener. Point out to students that anthems and/or patriotic songs tend to use a variety of instruments working together to create harmony and are often recognized as such among audiences because they are familiar.) Provide students with a Focus For Media Interaction by asking them to identify the mood of this familiar song. Log on to the Jimi Hendrix Star Spangled Banner. Discuss the mood and tone of the music. Ask students to compare this version to other versions they may have heard before. (In this rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, there are musical overlays of Taps and the sounds of shots, not to mention the high pitch noises of the electric guitar, possibly indicating discord (lack of harmony)).

Step 2Ask students to identify pros (benefits) and cons (consequences) of war. Keep a record of student responses by making a list of each on a chalkboard, large piece of paper or on an overhead projector.

Step 3Provide students with a Focus for Media Interaction by asking them to identify, on a separate sheet of paper, some of the consequences of war identified in this song. As a preface to the activity, ask students to record answers to the following questions: what era is being addressed in the song? Where were the events addressed in the song likely to have happened? Is the principle presented in the song still true? Play track 5 of the Sister Act 2 Soundtrack, "Ball of Confusion." Pair students up and allow a three-minute think-pair-share activity. If necessary, replay the track to make sure that each group has had the opportunity for exchange.

Step 4 Distribute the lyrics to "Ball of Confusion" to each student. Ask students to compare their thoughts generated from listening to those generated as a result of viewing the lyrics. Ask students to underline words or phrases that helped them to make their conclusions.

Step 5Discuss additional questions provided on the Teacher version of the lyric sheet.

Learning Activity

Step 1 Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to encircle lines 11 and 12 on the lyric sheet. Ask students to highlight the phrase "obligation to our nation." Discuss what this phrase means. (One of the ways that this phrase is reinforced is through the mandatory civil service registration of males at the age of 18.)

Step 2Distribute the FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION Questions, Student version. Inform students that "Ball of Confusion" was written and recorded circa 1970 by the Temptations, a popular Motown R&B/Soul group. By 1970, many of the non-violent forums that had been used to win civil rights for African-Americans were losing their power over younger generations. Many historians believe that the work of A. Philip Randolph was a necessary catalyst to the Civil Rights Movement. Ask students to list the names and/or events associated with the Civil Right Movement prior to 1963 -- "I Have a Dream Speech": March on Washington. (Most people recognize the integration of the National Baseball League, Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Brown v. Board of Education but also consider the rise of Joe Louis, the appearance of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man or the publication of Alaine Locke's The New Negro as precursors to action.)

Step 3Cue tape to the image of Franklin D. Roosevelt sitting at a desk. The narrator will say, "...six days before the march, executive order 8802..." Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to identify visual clues of wartime provided in this segment. Play tape. Pause tape when you hear the narrator say, "one million black Americans were added to the industrial workforce." (The images are of workers in what appears to be metal factories. Production in this type of factories usually grew as a result of war. Additionally, women can be seen working in factories. As in WWI, women were required to fill gaps in the workforce left by men serving in the military.)

Step 4Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by directing their attention to the Student version of the questions while viewing the next segment. (Students will be able to answer questions 1 - 7 in the first segment of viewing.)

Step 5Pause the tape when you see images of soldiers waving flags and African-American soldiers reuniting with their families. Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to consider the statement, "[Blacks] felt a sense of loyalty to the country of their oppressor". The narrator says, "...having served but been poorly served." Discuss student responses.

Step 6Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to raise their hand when they can identify the strategy used by Randolph to apply pressure to Pres. Truman concerning desegregation of the military. Play tape. You will see soldiers dressed in military paraphernalia. (Students should have their hands raised when A. Philip Randolph's voice is heard stating, "Negro soldiers are in no mood to shoulder a gun again to fight for democracy abroad until we have democracy at home". )

Step 7Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking the question: "was Bayard Rustin a White man or a Black man? What clues are provided in the video about his identity? Upon initial viewing, the answer to the question is not clear because two men are shown when his assistant, Rachelle Horowitz, mentions his name. Because he has a Caucasian assistant, it might be assumed that he too is Caucasian. However, in the video segment, a fade in on the African-American man indicates that he is probably Black. Scrutiny of the supporting website verifies that he was African-American. (A. Philip Randolph Program Information" website:

Step 8Stop tape when you see a fade-in of a picture of A. Philip Randolph. You will hear dramatic music after hearing narration about John Bracey's comment, "it's not clear what his future would be."

Culminating Activity

The last part of the lesson will look at the historic implications of military integration and the notion of POW as a sociopolitical movement.

Step 1 Log onto the NPR site commemorating the 50th Anniversary of E.O. 9981: Colin Powell speech. Direct students to answer the questions outlined on the FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION Questions, Student version. Students may navigate the site individually with head-sets, in pairs or you may want to broadcast the speech by using speakers attached to one central computer. Instruct students on audio playback from internet sources. They will need to know how to play, fast forward and pause. A green triangle is used to play, two parallel bars are used to pause, a solid square is used to stop play and an open frame is used to fast forward. Another method for fast forwarding requires use of the double-headed arrow, pointing to the right. Because Real Player uses streaming technology, using the arrows will delay playback more so than using the sliding frame. To fast forward, click play then drag the frame to the designated time. A clock is placed in the bottom right corner to help guide navigation.

Step 2Allow students approximately 15 minutes to navigate the site and answer the questions. They will listen to two segments that are approximately 5-minutes each. The entire speech is approximately 48-minutes long.

Step 3Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by polling the class to find out if any student has ever seen the POW-MIA flag. Ask them to identify which military conflict prompted the need for this socio-cultural recognition? (The flag is in honor of the Vietnam War. It is now commonly used for any military conflict where American service members are taken hostage.)

Step 4Provide students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to find official calendar dates when the flag will be flown at the White House. Use information from the website to answer questions related to the flag. (Armed Forces Day (the third Saturday in May), Memorial Day (the last Monday in May), Flag Day (June 14), Independence Day (July 4), National POW/MIA Recognition Day (third Friday of September) and Veterans Day (November 11))

Cross-Curricular Extensions

Step 1 Investigate the economic or environmental conditions of communities affected by war -- Chernobyl, Somalia. Study population trends in countries before sustained wartimes, during wartimes and after wartimes.

Step 2 Use the "Ball of Confusion" lyrics as the guide for creating a timeline. Link specific world events with lines in the song. Choose certain stanzas within the song to draw conclusions about the causes for specific historical events and consider the effects of those causes as identified in the lyrics. Create a social map using the song lyrics: identify the established roles of politicians, musicians, scientists and citizens as described by the lyrics.

Step 3Study the establishment of the Freedmen's Bureau (1865). The concept of "40 Acres and a Mule" was established as an opportunity for displaced citizens and refugees after the Civil War to obtain abandoned land and exercise their inalienable rights as productive citizens. Use records of New York citizens who petitioned for land as a result of this 1865 Act as the background to write fictitious narratives or character sketches of these brave men and women. (Freedmen's Bureau Online at or the Freedmen and Southern Society Project page, a University of Maryland site at
for information)

Step 4Examine the lives of war prisoners throughout perpetuity. Did you know that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were prisoners of war? Consider Babylonian captivity, the Battle of Jericho, the Trojan War or the American Revolution.

Community Connections

Step 1 Start a scrap-booking project -- promote intergenerational exchange by creating a scrapbook of poems, pictures, recipes, family stories and propaganda. Record the personal account of a war veteran or family member who lived during WWI, WWII, The Korean War, Vietnam or Desert Storm. Gather primary source information in either audio form (by using a tape recorder or voice software) or text form.

Step 2 Start a ribbon campaign in your family. Choose a cause that your entire family can investigate. Choose a ribbon color that will uniquely identify with your family position on the issues relevant to your cause. Challenge all members of the family to wear the ribbon for at least one week. At the end of the week, discuss with each member of the family, what kinds of feedback were given by people outside of the family.


Further study:

Mullane, Deirdre (1993), Crossing the Danger Water: Three hundred years of African-American Writing. Doubleday Dell Publishing, New York.

"A. Philip Randolph Program Information" website;; this site provides background information for the episode being viewed. A list of credits and the role of people interviewed in the episode in the work of Randolph/Civil Rights Movement is provided.