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Return Migration to the South
Returning to the South Lesson Plan
Since the 1970s, social scientists and demographers have chronicled a turn-around in the migration patterns of African Americans. The turn-around is indicated by a large number of African-American northerners relocating to southern states. Return South Migration explores the reversal of historic migration patterns along with the reasons and consequences for the migration. In this lesson, students will explore the push/pull factors leading to the reverse migration as well as the impact the return to the South has had on the southern states.
Grade Levels:High school, grades 9-12
For use with:Return South Migration
Concentration Area:History
National Curriculum Standards met by this lesson
The following standards have been taken from the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McRel) standards.
Students will understand

  • Economic, social, and cultural developments in the contemporary United States.
  • How changes in the national and global economy have influenced the workplace (e.g., sluggishness in the overall rate of economic growth, the relative stagnation of wages since 1973, the social and political impact of an increase in income disparities, the effects of increased global trade and competition on the U.S. economy, the influence of new technology on education and learning, and the relationship between education and earnings in the workplace).
  • How recent immigration and migration patterns impacted social and political issues (e.g., major issues that affect immigrants and resulting conflicts, changes in the size and composition of the traditional American family, demographic and residential mobility since 1970).
  • The influence of social change and the entertainment industry in shaping views on art, gender, and culture (e.g., how social change and renewed ethnic diversity affects artistic expression in contemporary American society, the reflection of values in popular TV shows, the effects of women's participation in sports on gender roles and career choices).
Time required
One 50-minute class period plus additional homework of reading and completing the newspaper editorial assessment
Materials needed
Anticipatory Set

  1. Ask students to write down their thoughts on the follow statements:

    1. Home Is Where The Heart Is
    2. Home Sweet Home
    3. There's No Place Like Home
  2. Ask students to think about moving away from home and then to list the reasons that they would want to move back.
  3. Have students discuss their ideas with a partner then debrief with the whole class.
  4. After the class discussion, explain to students that this lesson will examine the migration of African Americans to the southern states, starting in the 1970s and continuing today.

  1. Have students read the narrative Return South Migration. Using the strategy Three-Step Interview, have students, in groups of four, read the narrative, identify key ideas and salient points, and discuss the information.
  2. After reading the narrative and discussing the content, ask students to complete the Key Points Handout
  3. Debrief the key points from the narrative with the whole class.
  4. Explain to students that they should use information from the narrative for the assessment.

  1. Assign students to write an editorial for the local newspaper that outlines the reasons for the migration of black Americans to the South, and the impact this migration has had on the southern states.
  2. Then, score the editorial using the Editorial Rubric.

Three-Step Interview

Following are the steps to follow for the three-step interview:

  1. Students should be in groups of four.
  2. Jigsaw the narrative into four sections.
  3. Assign students a number from 1-4.
  4. Students should read the section corresponding to their number.
  5. Students debrief in pairs as follows:

    1. Student number 1 debriefs their section with student number 2.
    2. Student number 3 debriefs their section with student number 4.
    3. Student number 2 then debriefs with student number 1.
    4. Student number 4 then debriefs with student number 3.
  6. Students debrief with the entire group the section they learned about:

    1. Student number 1 shares information from section 2.
    2. Student number 2 shares information from section 1.
    3. Student number 3 shares information from section 4.
    4. Student number 4 shares information from section 3.
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