Seeing America -topic: from Slavery to Civil Rights



John Brown was a radical abolitionist who believed in using violence to destroy the violent institution of slavery. Thomas Hovenden's painting of a popular story about Brown's last moments, created 25 years after Brown's execution, promoted the righteousness of his cause at a time when state governments were stripping away the political gains made by African Americans during Reconstruction.
APUSH: KC-5.2.I.B, KC-5.3.II.C
TEKS: 113.41.(3)(C)

Teaching guide
Thomas Hovenden, The Last Moments of ...


Covered sugar bowl, c. 1745, silver, 11.5 x 9.1 cm (Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art)
This sugar bowl recalls the transatlantic trade network that developed around sugar in the early American colonial era, bolstered by the growing popularity of tea, coffee, chocolate, and punch in Europe. Its expanded production depended on the labor of enslaved people, many of whom were abducted from Africa, to harvest and process sugar cane in the Caribbean.
APUSH: KC-2.1.III.A, KC-2.2.II.A

Teaching guide
Covered sugar bowl






Aaron Douglas, Aspiration, 1936, oil on canvas, 152.4 x 152.4 cm (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco)
Aaron Douglas's paintings at the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition focused on how the rich African past inspired a bright future for African Americans, even in the midst of Jim Crow and the Great Depression.
APUSH: KC-7.2.I.B
TEKS: 113.41.(24)(B)

Teaching guide
Aaron Douglas, Aspiration





Horace Pippin, Mr. Prejudice, 1943. oil on canvas, 46 x 35.9 cm (Philadelphia Museum of Art)
Pippin fought bravely in World War I, but he and other African American soldiers did not receive a hero's welcome when they returned to the United States. Incorporating this history into his 1943 painting, Pippin places racism and segregation among the forces aligned against Allied victory in World War II.
APUSH: KC-7.2.II.C, KC-7.3.III.C.i
TEKS: 113.41.(7)(F)

Teaching guide
Horace Pippin, Mr. Prejudice


Benny Andrews, Flag Day, 1966, oil on canvas, 53.3 x 40.6 cm ©The Benny Andrews Estate (The Art Institute of Chicago)
In the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, Benny Andrews protested the exclusion of Black artists from museums. Flag Day captures a complex sense of being both imprisoned by and liberated by the American flag as efforts to combat racial discrimination were slowed by continuing resistance from white institutions.
APUSH: KC-8.2.1.C
TEKS: 113.41.(9)(B)

Teaching guide
Benny Andrews, Flag Day