Jesse Jackson campaign badge

Teaching ideas

Look at the Jesse Jackson campaign badge in For the classroom. Gather as much information as possible from an initial examination. Look at each detail in turn. What feeling is the main headline meant to evoke? How is Jackson portrayed? Why is his signature on the badge? What questions do the students have? What can’t they tell or don’t they know?

Look at the second badge in For the classroom. What further information are the students able to glean from this? Which of their questions does it answer? What significance do they think rests in the motto about Democratic unity and how is that being addressed in the imagery of the badge? What tensions do they think the badge may be intended to address?

Investigation of the main badge or comparison with the second can then lead into finding out more about what happened to Jackson’s attempt to win the Democratic candidacy. This could lead into an enquiry looking at why Jesse Jackson did not win in 1984 and why Barack Obama was able to win in 2008. You might use the list of Jackson’s policies in For the classroom and consider how each of these would present problems in the 1980s.

Print off copies of the first eight cartoons related to Jesse Jackson from the 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns in For the classroom. Divide the class into groups, give each group two cartoons, one of which should feature another character, and ask them to explain what they think the message of each cartoon is. Tell them who the other character or characters are and ask them to do some research and to feedback on revised interpretations. Are there any common themes between the 1984 and 1988 cartoons?

Use the excerpt from the transcript of Martin Luther King’s speech “I have a dream” in For the classroom and listen to parts of the speech. Read the excerpt from Jesse Jackson’s speech in 1984 in For the classroom. Compare the imagery the two speakers use. What impression does Jackson seek to give of the aims of his candidacy? Compare them with King’s aims - are they significantly different from the aims of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s – 70s?

Look at the Black Panther Party badge in For the classroom. Discuss the impact of its imagery in contrast to the emphasis on non-violent protest of Martin Luther King’s message. Watch the three BBC Class Clips in For the classroom: Malcolm X, Elijah Mohammed and the Revolutionary Action Movement. Divide the class into groups and allocate two videos to each group and ask them to identify the main characteristics of each noting the similarities and differences: that do the proponents want? How do they advocate achieving this? What is their attitude to the white majority? How do they see black identity? Compare all three as a class – students could create a venn diagram of where groupings overlap and where they differ. Further enquiry could lead into issues such as the part played by religion in the more radical and the main civil rights movements. Do the students think it was valuable for there to be diversity within the movement or did this weaken it?

Which US president has done the most for African Americans?

Look at the campaign badges in A bigger picture and do some initial research gathering basic information about each campaign and filling in the gaps so there is a complete timeline from 1956 to the present day. Do a series of mini-enquiries to find out what each of the presidents achieved or did not achieve in relation to the civil rights and equality of black Americans. Use the timeline to track and present different strands such as voter registration, desegregation, educational changes, affirmative action, the presence of black members in the administration. Which president do the students think did most for the rights and interests of black Americans? There are teacher resources to help with this enquiry in the More information section of About the object.

Why was an African American able to stand for election in 1984?

This question sets up an enquiry into the changes in the position of Black Americans in the period from a flexible starting point to the late AD 1900s. It could begin from the 13th amendment to the US Constitution, ratified in 1865, which officially ended slavery throughout the United States and could start with a discussion about the extent to which freedom automatically bestows civil rights and whether this date may also be taken as the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. The enquiry could go back even earlier to the growth of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the AD 1700s – this will depend on whether the focus is to be the overall change for Black Americans or the acquisition of civil rights specifically. You could introduce discussion of historical significance by asking students to select the 10 most important individuals, events or moments in the history – you might suggest that they are planning a museum display and only have 10 cases or panels.

How was 1984 different from 1963?

Use the activity about the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr and Jesse Jackson to start this enquiry off. Focusing on this short period of time will allow students to look at the apparent success of the heyday of the Civil Rights Movement in terms of legislation and the continuing economic and social disadvantages experience by Black Americans. It also allows for investigation into the shift of focus from the south to the large cities of the north and the west coast.

Discuss why political parties and organisations produce badges and what effect students think badges have. Use the internet to look for other sorts of ephemera produced by political groupings and parties – the archive of the Anti-Apartheid Movement is a rich source of examples. Students may wish to share badges or other objects they have to show their support for current causes. Discuss other methods used to spread campaign messages. Which methods of getting your message across do students think are most effective and why?

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Jesse Jackson campaign badge