Introduction - Answering the Call

Oral history provides a unique role in preserving rich and untold history. In this module, interviewees discuss their reasons in sharing their personal narratives before, during and after desegregation in Maryland.

Tips for using this module in your classroom

Essential Question

How can oral history help us re-examine what has been taught in order to build a more complete and accurate narrative of the past?


Documentary Clip 1

Discussion questions:
  • Mr. Robert M. Bell asserts that the society in which he lived was antithetical to what was supposed to be the norm. What are ways that today’s society operates antithetically to its core values?
  • What does the phrase “hazardous landscape” imply? What was hazardous about the living conditions of the 1950s?
  • How does someone “make a way where there ain’t no way”? What are some other famous euphemisms that we use in everyday life?
  • Discuss Ms. Treopia Washington Green’sstatement that “there are stories that need to be told, there are facts that need to be shared.”

Documentary Clip 2

Discussion questions:
  • What may have happened if Mr. Louis S. Diggs decided not to write about the communities of Winters Lane?
  • In your opinion, what other stories need to be told about American society?
  • What are some of the hidden and or missing parts of U.S. history?
  • What time periods, people, places should U.S. students learn more about?

Supplemental Enrichment Activites

Providing Students a Framework
  • To allow students to begin thinking about segregation and desegregation, have them reflect on the following quote by James Baldwin: The paradox of education is precisely this – that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.
    - (James Baldwin, 1963)

    • In what ways does learning more cause people to critique the world in which they live?
    • How have you become wiser as you’ve gotten older?
    • What are things that you are more critical or “aware” of now than you were 5 of 10 years ago?
Reflect on euphemisms/phrases
  • How does someone “make a way where there ain’t no way?”
  • What are some other famous euphemisms that we use in everyday life?


  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.1 : Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively. (Grades 9/10)
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.1.C : Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions. (Grades 9/10)
  • D2.His.1.9-12 : Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by the unique circumstances of the time and place, as well as by broader historical contexts.
  • D2.His.4.9-12 : Analyze complex and interacting factors that influenced the perspective of people during different historical eras.