Before: Ask the students to imagine that they are adult African American males living in Alabama during the period of Reconstruction (1865-1877). Remind them that because of the 14th and 15th Amendments, they have civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution and enforced by United States military presence in the former Confederacy. Ask the students the following questions:
• “What are civil rights?”
• “How would you exercise your newly granted civil rights?”
• “Will you vote? Why or why not?”
• “Will you run for public office?”
Step 1 Show the composite image of African American members of the United States Congress from 1869 to 1901 from the Alabama Department of Archives and History, covering the title of the image. Ask the students:
• “Who do you think these men are?”
• “Why are they shown as a group?”
Uncover the title and identify the group. Point out the picture of Benjamin Sterling Turner.
Step 2 Show students the picture of Benjamin Sterling Turner found at http://history.house.gov/People/Detail?id=23140&cid=38165&cs=1&ce=113&f=All#biography
Ask the following questions, and allow time for discussion:
• “What is your first impression?”
• “Where do you think this photo was taken?”
• “What objects are in the photo?”
• “What kind of clothing is being worn?”
• “Why do you think this picture was taken?”
• “Who do you think the person is in the photo?”
Step 3 Tell the students that Benjamin Sterling Turner played a very important role in the Reconstruction of Alabama and today they are going to research him on the internet, collect five facts about him, and write a biography about him.
Step 4 Either take students to the computer lab or pass out the information that you printed from the Web sites. Guide them to the above-listed Web sites to gather facts necessary to write the biography.
Step 5 When students are finished collecting information, divide them into groups of three to four students, and allow them to discuss their findings. Ask one person from each group to share with the class five facts that he/she learned. You may want to make an informational chart on the board to record significant findings from each group.
Step 6 Tell students to use the information that they collected from the internet, from their group, and from class discussion to write a biography of Benjamin Sterling Turner. Collect their writings when they are finished.