History Lesson Sheds Light on Racism Today


The Color Line” lesson by Rethinking Schools editor Bill Bigelow is featured in an April 20, 2016 Washington Post article called “How American oligarchs created the concept of race to divide and conquer the poor” by Courtland Milloy Jr.

The lesson is on colonial laws enacted to create division and inequality based on race. History teacher and Teaching for Change staff member Julian Hipkins III explains that,

The lessons leads to a discussion about how oligarchs defend their interests. We would come back to that throughout the school year because the students noticed how race was being used as a wedge issue again and again.

Milloy stresses the challenges and importance of teaching this history of divide and conquer.

The pattern of exploitation that the students discovered does not fit neatly into the standard high school history narrative of the noble birth of a nation. So it is often overlooked. But the process has been widely documented.

Let us know if you have used “The Color Line” in your classroom.

Download a PDF of the article.