Teaching the Black Power Movement, the Genre of Documentary Film and Critical Media Literacy


1In an age of digitalization and information overflow, the acquisition and production of knowledge is changing rapidly. Thus, it is of particular importance to enable future teachers to become information- and media-literate in the digital age: to collect, sort, critically evaluate, and subsequently produce and distribute information. Additionally, the awareness of and the reflection on the role of the media is just as essential.[1]

2As part of a teacher education project at the University of Passau, Dr. Sarah Makeschin and I offered interdisciplinary and co-taught seminars. In one of those seminars, we investigated how documentaries can shape the perception of history by looking at the Black Power Movement in the US. In the first part of the seminar students familiarized themselves with the historical context of the Black Power Movement as well as the genre of documentary film. The second half of the course then focused on two selected documentaries and their representation of the Black Power Movement. This phase of the seminar consisted of participatory approaches to teaching and learning, in which students were not mere consumers but became producers of knowledge. Students conceptualized and led class sessions and ultimately produced (digital) knowledge in the form of exhibits, podcasts, and videos. This allowed students to reflect on and become literate in the various aspects of knowledge creation and distribution. Thus, this case study of teaching the Black Power Movement, the genre of documentary film and critical information and media literacy explores an innovative approach to teaching American Studies in the digital age.

Information and Media Literacy

3Theories of information and media literacy assume that knowledge cannot be neutral or objective, but that knowledge is socially constructed. Literacy enables people not only to recognize that constructedness, but also to read and ultimately understand, react to, and interact with the constructed character of knowledge (Pollak et al. 24–29). In addition, Kellner and Share argue that literacy is linked to democracy and civic empowerment and that it is a crucial tool to enable individuals to participate in a democratic society (19). Vasquez, Tate, and Harste add that people who are literate

show an affinity for disrupting commonplace thinking, interrogating multiple perspectives, unpacking issues socio-politically, and taking social action for purposes of creating a more just and equitable world. At the same time, they understand (and are able to critique) their own complicity in maintaining the status quo. (8)

This explicitly political theory of information and media literacy conceives of literacy as allowing people to navigate and understand their environment more comprehensively and participate in it, but also to reflect on their own positionality and their responsibility to contribute to social justice. Consequently, information and media literacy is a crucial component and prerequisite for becoming participatory citizens in society.

4Information literacy enables people to read or to understand and apply information within cultural and social contexts. It goes beyond the technological aspect of finding, collecting, and sorting information, but includes critical thinking and interpretative skills (UNESCO). In addition, the critical media literacy approach argues that all information is communicated through some kind of medium. This could be a video, a musical score, an MP3 file, a written text, or even the human body (Pollack et al. 24). In addition, media do not just exist, but are created by human beings and thus cannot be neutral. Instead, media carry meaning, purpose, and perspective and consequently impact our ideas and values—sometimes consciously, but more often unconsciously. As a result, literacy requires people to become aware of the role of the media and evaluate media within cultural and social contexts as well (Kellner and Share).

5Thus, neither information nor media are neutral or objective, but always inhabit purpose and perspectives. Consequently, both the information and the medium this information is transferred through need to be taken into consideration. Thus, information and media literacy is crucial to empower students and citizens to adequately collect, read, reflect, investigate, evaluate, and use information and media in order to navigate their lives in a democratic society. In addition to reading and understanding information and media, literacy not only allows but also encourages students and citizens to produce knowledge. Creating alternative knowledge based on evidence and including voices that may have been absent so far disrupts ideas perceived as common, challenges dominant perspectives and voices, and provides a more complex and diverse set of ideas and values. Consequently, by allowing students and citizens to challenge commonplace ideas and tell alternative stories, including voices that have been left out or have been misrepresented, information and media literacy enables challenging hegemonic narratives and thus contributes to social change (Kellner and Share; Vasquez, Tate, and Harste).

6Education needs to allow for the development of literacy in order for students to critically decipher values and norms that are contained in information and transmitted in and through media. As Kellner and Share explain, “[i]ndividuals are often not aware that they are being educated and positioned by media culture, as its pedagogy is frequently invisible and is absorbed unconsciously” (4). Thus, an institution that prepares future teachers has the responsibility to raise their students’ awareness and enable them to see and understand where information comes from and how media impose meaning, values, and ideologies. In addition to that, information and media literacy provides future teachers with the tools and skills to not only provide alternative information, but also, and more importantly, to empower their future students to become information and media literate (Pollak et al. 41–44). Finally, information and media literacy is developed through social practices and experiences. It cannot be studied or learned by heart (Kellner and Share; Pollak et al.; Vasquez, Tate, and Harste). Instead, Kellner and Share argue that “alternative media production can help engage students to challenge media texts and narratives that appear natural and transparent” (4). Just as information and media are not neutral or objective, literacies are socially and culturally constructed as well and evolve according to their environment.

Information and Media Literacy at the University of Passau

7As part of a teacher education project, the overall idea of Information and Media Literacy at the University of Passau is a critical reconstruction of education. Translated into practice, this means that students in our courses are encouraged to reflect on the information and media that they consume and are empowered to go beyond their regular sources and instead look and reflect on alternative information and media. In a next step, students produce information, knowledge, and media. By providing our students with space and time to create knowledge, they are enabled to reconstruct and subsequently reflect on the different steps of knowledge production rather than merely consume information and gain knowledge. Reflecting on their own productions, students are also empowered to challenge their own biases and positionalities. They have to make numerous decisions in their media production, thereby changing the message and impact of their product with every decision. Finally, by providing students with the possibility to investigate dominant narratives and to produce alternative or counterhegemonic messages, information and media literacy enables students to view themselves as participants in society. Literacy thus not only encourages students to take action, but it highlights their power to actually change social conditions through knowledge and education (Kellner and Share 9).

8In order to critically reflect on information and media, the project pursues an interdisciplinary approach, which not only provides a well-rounded viewpoint, but also highlights the role of interpretation and perspective and challenges the idea of objectivity. Also, including multiple perspectives additionally highlights the similarities and differences between scholarly disciplines regarding information and media literacy. In addition, an interdisciplinary approach enables it to address and even solve questions which may not have been raised by a single discipline alone. Providing interdisciplinary courses encourages pre-service teachers to connect their specific fields of study rather than to think of them as separate entities. A future teacher of History and English, for example, will see and make use of the connection of these two fields rather than teaching these subjects separately from each other. Last but not least, an interdisciplinary approach empowers students to think beyond their individual expertise and to broaden their perspective. As a result, these future teachers are then equipped to apply interdisciplinary thinking and approaches in their own teaching and are thus able to change their educational environment not only for them, but for their future students as well (Pollak et al. 81–92). In addition, the Information and Media Literacy project pursues a Freirean approach and believes that “[e]ducation must begin with the solution of the teacher-student contradiction, by reconciling the poles of the contradiction so that both are simultaneously teachers and students” (Freire 72). While being aware of existing hierarchies within the university and between teacher and student, we try to provide a space of mutual respect in which we see our students as sources of knowledge  we as teachers can learn from as well.

The Case Study

9I will now introduce and discuss one of our seminars in more detail in order to illustrate how the idea of information and media literacy can be translated into practice. In this interdisciplinary and co-taught class, we intended to encourage students to reflect on history, the role of culture, and their own perspectives in this regard. Thus, in this particular class, we investigated how documentary film can shape the perception of history more broadly and of the Black Power Movement in particular. In order to do this, we focused on two documentaries which address the Black Power Movement very differently. Asking why two documentaries address the same topic in different ways, enabled students to critically reflect on historical information and its representation. Investigating the diverse representation of a particular topic in two different documentaries also challenged the misperception that documentaries are objective or neutral. Last but not least, teaching and learning about documentaries and their depiction of the Black Power Movement encouraged students to reflect on who is represented in the media, in which way and why.

10In order to support students in becoming information- and media-literate, it was crucial that students reflected on the constructedness of both history and documentary film. Thus, students learned how history is produced, who writes history as well as which and whose histories are preserved, documented, and distributed. Similarly, essential, students learned that history is culturally constructed and always entails perspective and interpretation: history is the product of people dealing with the past, it is not the past itself.

11About twenty students participated in the class. They were all pre-service teachers, studying different subjects, such as English, History, Sport, or Business. They will go on to teaching different age groups, from elementary to high school. The two instructors came from different scholarly fields: American Studies/Cultural and Media Studies as well as History and History Education. As a result, this course pursued an interdisciplinary approach and combined the expertise of both instructors, focusing on the Black Power Movement in combination with the genre of documentary film.

Documentary Films

12Documentary films are often perceived as authentic, neutral, or objective historical material (Abraham and Anders). They are also regularly used in schools—oftentimes without contextualizing the documentary or reflecting on its authenticity. In a reading response we assigned at the beginning of the course, one of our students, a pre-service elementary school teacher who has since moved on to student-teacher training, wrote that: “I think it is a waste of time to watch a documentary which is completely ‘unstaged.’ For me this is the real life. Life around you, what you can see every single day, all of it is ‘unstaged’ and you don’t need to make a film and watch it in order to see it.” While the student’s assumptions about documentaries changed over the course of our seminar, this response exemplifies very well how documentaries are often viewed: they are thought of as simply reproducing reality, as neutral, as not having a point of view or including editorial choices. However, while the documentary depicts actual people or events, it is neither objective nor does it merely represent “reality” (Brylla and Kramer; Aaltonen and Kortti).

Instead, a documentary is produced and edited and includes a narrative and interpretation (Hobbs). In addition, as an audiovisual medium, a documentary, through its use of images, sound, or music, and its density influences our understanding of the past. As a result, a documentary feels immediate and brings the past closer to the present. Thus, documentaries are often perceived as allowing the audience to “authentically” imagine what the past was like and therefore have a significant impact on our memory and our understanding of the past. Additionally, studies have shown that historical memory is formed less by cognitive knowledge or facts learned in school, but through history narrated in more public forms, settings, and environments such as documentaries (Ebbrecht 341–42). Consequently, it is of crucial significance that the audience be able to analyze both the content and the medium in order to read and understand the past that is represented in a specific medium and to critically challenge and reflect on the emotional power such history can have (341–42). Thus, the documentary is a useful medium to explore processes of constructing messages, perspectives, and ultimately “realities.”

The Black Power Movement

13The representation of the Black Power Movement has changed tremendously over time depending on who is telling the story and for what purpose (Russonello). When our students think about the Black Power Movement, they usually think about depictions of the Black Panther Party as a violent, militant, and masculine group—if they have any notion of the movement at all. This picture of the Black Power Movement is often set in contrast to the allegedly peaceful Civil Rights Movement. However, the histories of both the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements are more nuanced and complex, as recent scholarship shows (Rickford; Theoharis; Williams).

14Historians argue that Black Power, or at least the slogan “Black Power” was born out of a speech by Stokely Carmichael during the Meredith March Against Fear in Mississippi in June 1966. At that time, Carmichael (who later changed his name to Kwame Ture) was an activist within SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which had emerged during the Civil Rights Movement in 1960 and, as the name already suggests, originally followed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philosophy of nonviolence. However, as the Civil Rights Movement developed, some activists were radicalized as they realized that nonviolence may not be the right approach for their struggle—at least not anymore or under all circumstances. Like many activists in the movement, Stokely Carmichael and other members of SNCC broadened their philosophies, approaches, methods, and strategies accordingly: Carmichael started as an activist in SNCC, then joined the Black Panther Party in 1967, and eventually became a leader of the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party, which focused on Pan-Africanism.

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee changed their name to Student National Coordinating Committee to highlight this change towards broader methods and strategies. Similarly, several activists moved from one organization to another or belonged to multiple initiatives at the same time. These examples challenge the binary narrative of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements as distinct and antagonistic entities. They instead illustrate the complexity and diversity of Black activism and also highlight that people developed and changed according to context and their environment (Joseph 1–27).[2]

15Even the most prominent Black Power organization, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, had explicit ties to and origins in the Civil Rights Movement. However, although they had initially been influenced by Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolence, the Black Panther Party, too, was drawn to new approaches of continuing the struggle. At the beginning, the Panthers focused on police brutality and supervising the behavior of the police (Carson 345—48). While photographs depicting the Panthers in military-style clothing with their guns, leather jackets, their berets and afros, walking lockstep have become the iconic images of the Black Panther Party, these activities were by no means the organization’s only and primary activities. Instead, the Panthers also offered so-called Survival Programs, in which they organized free breakfast for school children as well as free food and free health clinics for the community. The Panthers also founded liberation schools, which allowed children to receive high-quality education and learn about African and African American history (Murch).

While the Panthers and other Black Power organizations are often portrayed as being anti-white or perceived as being racist, this is a very limited and ultimately false understanding of the organization’s goals and national and international influence. On May 3, 1967, for example, an article of the New York Times began: “With loaded rifles and shotguns in their hands, members of the antiwhite Black Panther party marched into the state Capitol today.” The Black Power Movement was an important influence on freedom struggles globally and collaborated with movements all over the world. Even in the US, Black Power organizations cooperated with different organizations fighting for social justice. For example, Fred Hampton from the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party founded the Rainbow Coalition, together with Black, Puerto Rican, and white activists (Williams). Thus coalitions “beyond race, geography, and social origin emerged to fight injustice, discrimination, and economic inequality” (Diouf and Woodard ix).

16Based on this more recent scholarship and in addition to primary sources that we investigated in the course, we studied the more complex history of the Black Power Movement, including the breakfast programs of the Panthers, the role of women, and the role of, for example, the FBI and its COINTELPRO initiative. In addition, we also put this history into context, asking for the reasons why the Black Power Movement is portrayed in a certain way, and how the narrative shifts, depending on the perspective and the questions asked. Finally, the topic was timely and relevant as we connected the historical knowledge to issues that are going on today, such as #BlackLivesMatter.

Information and Media Literacy in Practice

17In a first step, students familiarized themselves with the historical context of the Black Power Movement by reading texts, looking at digital exhibitions and discussing this information via the digital exchange and learning platform Ilias. In class, we worked with primary sources: some students worked with photographs that captured and represented the Black Power Movement, other students analyzed the Panthers’ Ten-Point Program, and others dealt with FBI files on the Black Panther Party. After exploring and analyzing the primary documents and comparing them to the secondary literature that students had read before, we brought together the different narratives about the Black Power Movement. In this step, students not only learned about the history of the Black Power Movement, but they also discovered how history is constructed. While all students read the same secondary literature, each group focused on particular primary sources that only they had access to.

Bringing the different narratives together, students then realized that their histories do not necessarily tell the same story and that each source brings more nuance to historical understanding. They also realized that primary sources are often isolated and can raise more questions than give answers. Only when primary sources are put into context can they contribute to a more comprehensive narrative. Consequently, this exercise highlighted that history is complex and that there is not necessarily one master narrative that tells the entire truth. This activity allowed them to realize that history cannot be compartmentalized or isolated. Instead, history is constructed and depends on various aspects such as the access to resources, the information that is preserved, and the perspectives of historians and archives. As a homework assignment students applied what they had learned in a follow-up exercise on Ilias. In this exercise, students were confronted with several historical and contemporary images and were required to relate these to what they had learned in class. Afterwards, students wrote a short reflection on the role of history for the present and discussed their thoughts with fellow students digitally.

18In a next step, we took a closer look at the genre of the documentary. We studied documentary categories and techniques as well as documentary modes. We mainly worked with the following resources: John Golden, Reading in the Reel World: Teaching Documentaries and Other Nonfiction Texts; Bill Nichols, Introduction to Documentary; Paul Ward, Documentary: The Margins of Reality. Each group analyzed one documentary mode and created a poster in order to present their documentary mode to the rest of the class. Afterwards, each group produced a documentary according to their mode. That production included a storyboard and the filming as well as editing of the documentary. The documentaries dealt with various topics that were relevant to the students and that were connected to the topic of the seminar. As a result, one of the documentaries dealt with white supremacy, another with Michael Brown and Black Lives Matter, and yet another documentary referred to the 1968 Olympic Games and the Black Power Salute of John Carlos and Tommie Smith. The length of the documentaries varied between 30 and 90 seconds. While we were able to provide students with comprehensive technology, cameras, greenscreens and software, all groups decided to use their own cell phones and free editing software to shoot and edit their documentaries.

19As a result of this exercise, students not only reflected on different documentary modes and were able to read and view documentaries with a new perspective. Instead, they also had the chance to go through the entire process of thinking about and making decisions regarding the narrative that they wanted to tell, and how they would achieve what they had planned, keeping their target audience in mind. All of the students watched each documentary and discussed their observations, questions, and reflections further on digital platforms. This exercise allowed students to differentiate between documentaries and reflect on the purpose of various styles. The activity supported students in realizing that documentaries are constructed with a certain perspective, purpose, and agenda, while based on actual events or people. Producing their own documentaries allowed students to go through the various steps of creating a documentary making editorial choices and thus encouraging to reflect on their own positionality.

20The second half of the course focused on our work with two selected documentary series and their representation—or lack thereof—of the Black Power Movement: Eyes on the Prize (Henry Hampton, 1987–1990) and Freedom: A History of US (Kunhardt Productions, 2003). The 16-episode documentary series Freedom: A History of US (hereafter referred to as Freedom) released in 2003, is based on the textbook series A History of US, written by former newspaper writer, editor, and elementary school teacher Joy Hakim. The nine-piece textbook series is targeted towards upper elementary and middle school students and focuses on storytelling in order to be “not only informative, but fun” (“Books”). The documentary series adopts this approach of the textbooks and includes voice acting by celebrities such as Brad Pitt or Whoopi Goldberg in order to make the characters in the story more interesting and relatable. In addition, journalist and TV anchor Katie Couric is the series’ narrator while Columbia University Professor Eric Foner is expert commentator throughout the entire series (“Cast”).

21In contrast, the 14-episode documentary series Eyes on the Prize (hereafter referred to as Eyes), produced by the independent film and television company Blackside, first aired in 1987. Looking back at the Civil Rights Era, independent filmmaker Henry Hampton used original archival footage and interviews by participants and opponents of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements in order to tell this history as comprehensively as possible. Having been a civil rights activist himself, the narrator in the documentary series is Julian Bond. While the series includes music and relevant movement songs, most of the times it refrains from intensive editing of the original footage, which may make the documentary arguably less entertaining and slower, but also less overtly manipulative. Eyes focuses on the Civil Rights Era between 1954 and 1985 and thus discusses 30 years of American history in roughly 14 hours of television. While the documentary concentrates on the Civil Rights Movement, it also discusses the Black Power Movement in the second part of the series: Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads, 1965–1985. The story of Freedom, in contrast, begins in 1776 and ends with the present in the 2000s, and thus covers more than 200 years of US history in just under seven hours, spread across 16 episodes. As a result, Freedom discusses the Civil Rights Movement in merely two episodes and focuses on Martin Luther King Jr. while it omits the Black Power Movement entirely.

22In teams, students conceptualized and led class sessions, focusing on the two documentaries. On the one hand, this activity allowed students to use their knowledge of the Black Power Movement and the genre of documentary films that they had gained beforehand. On the other hand, since the majority of our students will become teachers, the idea was to give students an opportunity to earn some experience in conceptualizing and leading class sessions.

23There were a couple of activities that students had to pursue individually, but the majority of activities were pursued in teams. These teams were formed by lottery; in this way the teams were diverse in various ways. English majors worked together with history, sport, or business majors. Future teachers of elementary schools worked together with high school pre-service teachers. This approach not only forced students to work and think in interdisciplinary ways in terms of content and focus, but it also allowed learning about different methods and approaches regarding teaching, learning, and pedagogy. In their evaluation, students expressed that they hoped to adopt this approach and work in interdisciplinary teams in their future teaching environments. This approach was supported by the specially designed room that the course was held in.

24The University of Passau designed a room specifically for pre-service teachers called Didaktisches Labor (DiLab). The DiLab provides a space where future teachers can gather, collaborate, and experiment. They can explore the room by themselves or with the support of specifically trained tutors. Beyond providing pre-service teachers with a space where they belong, the DiLab offers comprehensive (digital) tools and technology. The DiLab offers room for about 30 people and consists of movable desks and chairs as well as numerous white-, black- and pin-boards that can be moved around the room. A projector, an interactive whiteboard, several camera systems both to present and to observe the students’ teaching, as well as numerous laptops, and tablets can also be used in the room.

Due to its design, this room allows for a more equal and innovative approach to teaching. The room can easily be arranged for individual or cooperative learning and is designed to avoid lecture-style approaches in which students are merely passive consumers. This is achieved by avoiding a designated front or back of the room. Instead, each side has potential for the focus of the class, offering the various boards, and presentation tools all around the room. The DiLab allows teachers and students to be flexible and move around freely, think outside the box, and experiment with different kinds of media and formats as well as philosophies of teaching and learning. Consequently, students are not only introduced to innovative teaching and mobilized to view themselves as active participants in the course, but they also become aware of the importance of space and its relevance for participation both in education and in society more broadly. Thus, the room provides an ideal environment to study and acquire media literacy.

25For their final projects, students produced (digital) knowledge in the form of exhibits, podcasts, websites, and videos. This allowed them to reflect on and become literate in the various aspects of knowledge creation and distribution. Students pursued various different final projects, depending on what was relevant to them. For example, during their time on Hawai’i as an exchange student in 2017, the student attended and recorded a panel discussion on racism and afterwards edited the discussion into a podcast. In other words, the student pretended to interview the experts on the topic. The student reflected on how challenging it was to decide which parts of the discussion should be included and which should be excluded. The student also explained that it was difficult to come up with questions that would be inserted in between the discussion so that it would be a coherent interview, while trying to keep the narrative as authentic as possible.

26Another student, who since has moved on to student-teacher training, decided to produce a teaching unit. This student created a website for elementary school students along with a handout and based this unit on the respective German state curriculum for elementary schools. In this unit students learn about American culture, the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, and how those relate to German students and citizens. This student also discussed that it was most challenging to decide what the elementary students should take away from this unit and how to achieve these objectives. According to the student, researching the curriculum with the focus on the Black Power Movement broadened their mind and inspired them to teach their students about US-American culture and history in elementary school rather than, for example, how US-Americans celebrate Christmas or Thanksgiving. Instead, they might teach their students about Kwanzaa, which is celebrated annually in December honoring African heritage. In addition, the final project allowed both students to reflect on the role of the editor, what kind of decisions they need to make, and how these decisions influence our understanding of what we need to know in order to actively participate in society. Finally, they realized how exclusion or inclusion of information can change the entire narrative and subsequently our understanding, thinking, and behavior in our everyday lives. Reflecting on those questions and decisions for their own media production encouraged them to eventually apply their insights to their own everyday media consumption.


27Information and media literacy enables students, teachers, and citizens to collect, sort, critically evaluate, and subsequently produce and distribute information. Additionally, they are able to reflect on the role of the media. Thematically combining documentary film and the Black Power Movement allows students to develop and refine their information- and media-literacy skills. In our interdisciplinary and co-taught courses, students see the instructors as coaches who support their development and learning experience rather than teachers who convey facts. Due to the interdisciplinary co-teaching, students also realize that there is not necessarily one correct answer to their questions, but that the world is more complex and depends on perspective and context. Allowing students to work with primary sources and to construct their own understanding of the Black Power Movement based on historical evidence empowers students to challenge and question the representation of the Black Power Movement in the media. This critical skill extends beyond an evaluation of Black Power history since students are subsequently able to use their knowledge and experience more widely as teachers and citizens. Last but not least, giving students the opportunity to produce knowledge rather than merely consume information—so that they can make decisions about what is included and what is excluded in a narrative and the difference it makes—enables them to comprehend how knowledge always includes perspective and interpretation. Thus, this case study of teaching the Black Power Movement, the genre of documentary film as well as critical information and media literacy provides a crucial lens through which to reassess the role of education for social change and active citizenship.


[1]  This project is part of the “Qualitätsoffensive Lehrerbildung,” a joint initiative of the Federal Government and the “Länder” (states) which aims to improve the quality of teacher training. The program is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The authors are responsible for the content of this publication.

[2] Although Malcolm X was assassinated before the Black Power slogan could evolve, many Black Power activists, such as Huey P. Newton or Bobby Seale refer to themselves as heirs of Malcolm X. The conventional historiography defines the time of the Black Power Movement between 1966 and 1975. In other words, while Malcolm X, who was assassinated in 1965, may not fit into the conventional narrative and timeframe of the Black Power Movement, in regards to ideas, beliefs, philosophies and concepts, Malcolm X did lead “a movement for Black Power that paralleled and intersected with the civil rights movement’s high tide” (Joseph 7).


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Viola Huang holds a Ph.D. in History and Education from Columbia University’s Teachers College. Her research interests concern 20th-century African-American history, specifically the history of social movements, community activism, and alternative and transformative education. Since 2016, she has been a research assistant at the University of Passau, Germany, where she researches and teaches in the teacher-education project SKILL.de (Strategien zur Kompetenzentwicklung: Innovative Lehrformate in der Lehrerbildung, digitally enhanced) focusing on Information and Media Literacy as well as history education.

Suggested Citation

Huang, Viola. “Teaching the Black Power Movement, the Genre of Documentary Film and Critical Media Literacy.” American Studies Journal 70 (2020). Web. 3 Mar. 2024. DOI 10.18422/70-05.


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