Building Background Knowledge and Interest
Prior to starting this lesson’s main activity, it is key to set the stage and give students background and some frame for discussing the topic. Depending on your class’s prior lessons you may want to spend more or less time preparing students to discuss the topic of race and inequality in the classroom. Refer to the Learning Objectives section of this document to build out your pre-learning work.
When starting the lesson, I begin by providing students with a brief outline of the material and what they can expect to get out of it. “We are going to think about land and property in this country. Who has it? Who doesn’t? Why? A recent study found that Minneapolis has the largest racial homeownership gap in the country. 75% of white Minnesotans own their homes while only 23% of black Minnesotans own theirs (50% disparity). And 43% of Native Americans own their home (32% disparity with whites). So why is this the case?”
To explain the complex history of land and property in this country, students will learn pieces of it in groups by reading and summarizing the experience of indigenous peoples and black Minneapolis residents in the early 20th century that were pushed from their homes. They will then share what they learned with their classmates so that the group as a whole can tell the story of how land in Minneapolis changed hands.
To peak students’ interest in this history, I present them with the challenge of piecing together the lineage of land in southwest Minneapolis. “You are going to be examining the history of who has lived in this area and the story of how they got where they are now. You will share what you find out with your classmates.”