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Say it Plain: A Century of Great African American Speeches

Segment 1: Tracing the Impact of African American Speechmaking

Tracing the impact of African American speechmaking: preaching, telling jokes and bearing witness to abuse, discrimination and brutality. Segment features Martin Luther King, Jr., comedian Dick Gregory, activist Fannie Lou Hamer, and historian James Horton. Also traces some of the earliest know recordings of African Americans, including the influential leaders Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey.

Reading Comprehension

Read the testimony by Fannie Lou Hamer: Testimony Before the Credentials Committee, Democratic National Convention

    Answer the following questions:

  1. What crucial piece of information did Fannie Lou Hamer learn at the age of 44?
  2. What consequences did Hamer face in 1962 when she tried to register for vote?
  3. What were the two central goals of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), of which Hamer was an active member in 1964?
  4. What kind of treatment did Hamer and her colleagues receive when they were thrown in jail in 1963?
  5. After she suffered humiliation in a Mississippi jail, what did Hamer do?

Answer key

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Key Terms and Topics


From Fannie Lou Hamer's "Testimony Before the Credentials Committee, Democratic National Convention"

  • Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
  • Sharecroppers
  • Ku Klux Klan (KKK)
  • Impromptu
  • Literacy test
  • Blackjack
  • Medgar Evers

Answer key

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Student exercises
ExerciseReading Comprehension
ExerciseListening Comprehension
ExerciseCritical Thinking
ExerciseResearch Challenges
ExerciseKey Terms and Topics

Featured Resources
The student exercises provided this month are based on the American RadioWorks Feature: Say it Plain: A Century of Great African American Speeches.

Document"Say it Plain: A Century of Great African American Speeches"

DocumentSegment 1: Tracing the Impact of African American Speechmaking

DocumentFannie Lou Hamer, "Testimony Before the Credentials Committee, Democratic National Convention"

DocumentSegment 2: Bringing African American Oratory to a Larger Audience

DocumentSegment 3: Speeches from Positions of Power

DocumentBarbara Jordan, "Statement at the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Impeachment Hearings"

DocumentSay it Plain (Full documentary)

DocumentCurriculum created by Urbana, IL teachers

DocumentDownload this feature to print
(Requires free Adobe Reader)
DocumentWhat are monthly features?

Monthly Feature Archive
DocumentWord for Word (Dec. 2006)
DocumentReligious Passion, Pluralism, and the Young (Jan. 2006)
DocumentRSS Feeds, Blogs, and Podcasts (Sept. 2006)
DocumentMore >>

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