By: Kym Mosley
Over the last 4 weeks, Clemente’s sophomores have been reading Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun. As students read the play and watched its most recent film adaptation, students developed very strong opinions about the play’s main characters: the not-so-well-to-do Younger family. The most polarizing character among students proved to be Walter, with many students who either pitied this relentless dreamer or classified him as an unrealistic and flat-out selfish brat.
Throughout class discussions and theme explorations, many students often visualized themselves in this family’s predicament, speculating about how they personally would have felt if they experienced the Youngers’ financial hardships and familial conflicts. It is evident, then, that although published nearly 60 years ago, A Raisin in the Sun remains a realistic and relatable tale that addresses themes of racism, social mobility, sexism, and cultural assimilation–issues that remain relevant today.
In order to encourage students to further explore their own perspectives on the aforementioned themes, they each selected one that they felt was a pressing social issue today. In teams, students created visual presentations that could accompany a social media campaign designed to highlight their selected topic. Students researched modern day examples of these themes and created hashtags, fake tweets, and collages that reflected a range of information. Student projects were filled with quotes from the play, research about sexism in the workplace, Kardashian family references, statistics about poverty in Black and Latino communities, and tweets from Donald Trump (some authentic, some student-created).
These presentations quite clearly explained not only how these issues are still prevalent, but also how they are taught in A Raisin in the Sun. By the end of this project, it had become clear to students why classic texts can still leave a major impression on readers today.