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African Americans and Hollywood

People stand in line at Central Casting
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Students will explore various ways the entertainment industry in Los Angeles was a motivating factor for African American migration west. Students will evaluate multiple primary and secondary source documents in order to understand why African Americans looked at the entertainment industry as an opportunity for economic and social status. Students will also view and analyze video clips that support the information presented in the written documents. Finally, students will be assessed by their ability to write a letter from the perspective of an African American migrant hearing of job opportunities in Los Angeles.

Download Lesson Plan (PDF)
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Los Angeles is often identified with Hollywood, but there's more to the entertainment industry than its facade of movie stars and blockbuster films. This episode explores the career of Lois Weber, a filmmaker who rose to greatness in a nascent film industry that welcomed women into creative leadership positions; as well as a Central Casting Bureau that capitalized on the city's segregated ethnic enclaves when filling background roles.
Dream Factory

Lesson: In what ways did the entertainment industry impact African Americans in Los Angeles during the early 1900s?

Download Lesson Plan (PDF)

Content Standards

8.8: Students analyze the divergent paths of the American people in the West from 1800 to the mid-1800s and the challenges they faced.

8.8.2. Describe the purpose, challenges, and economic incentives associated with westward expansion, including the concept of Manifest Destiny (e.g., the Lewis and Clark expedition, accounts of the removal of Indians, the Cherokees’ “Trail of Tears,” settlement of the Great Plains) and the territorial acquisitions that spanned numerous decades.

11.5: Students analyze the major political, social, economic, technological, and cultural developments of the 1920s.

CCSS Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY IN HISTORY.RH.6-8.1: Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY IN HISTORY.RH.6-8.2: Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY IN HISTORY.RH.6-8.7: Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.

CCSS.ELA-WRITING IN HISTORY. WHST.6-8.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-SPEAKING AND LISTENING.SL.8.1: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.READING IN HISTORY. RH.11-12.1: Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.READING IN HISTORY.RH.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.READING IN HISTORY.RH.11-12.3 Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.READING IN HISTORY.RH.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.

CCSS.ELA-WRITING IN HISTORY.WHST.11-12.2 Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/experiments, or technical processes.

CCSS.ELA-WRITING IN HISTORY.WHST.11-12.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.1: Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.



UCLA History Geography Project USC Libraries Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West KCET

The Lost LA Curriculum project is a collaboration among KCET (Public Media Group of Southern California), USC Libraries, the UCLA History-Geography Project and the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West.

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