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In late 2016, Georgetown University made headlines for being one of the first major American universities to publically acknowledge and apologize for the debt its institution owes to slavery. Georgetown College owned slave plantations in Maryland during its founding years and sold over two hundred slaves to pay off a massive debt in 1838. This action spurred a conversation that comes up again and again throughout history: what, if anything, are African-American owed for the era of slavery?

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One Word or Less: Reparations to Black Americans?

Who Gains And Who's Left Out Of Georgetown's Reparations Plan

Ta-Nehisi Coates On Reparations: 'We're Going To Be In For A Fight'

Additional resources to think about

Georgetown University tries to make amends for profiting from slavery
Georgetown University is taking an unprecedented step to respond to and apologize for its ties to slavery. The university will give special preference to applicants who are descendants of Georgetown’s slaves, plans to rename a building in honor of one of the slaves and will create an institute to study slavery.

Shackled Legacy
History shows slavery helped build many U.S. colleges and universities.

Ta-Nehisi Coates Makes the Case For Reparations
WNPR's John Dankosky spoke with Ta-Nehisi Coates at Immanuel Congregational Church in Hartford while Coates was in town to receive the 2015 Stowe Prize for writing to advance social justice. 

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Who created this message?

  • What kind of “text” is it?
  • How similar or different is it to others of the same genre?
  • What are the various elements (building blocks) that make up the whole?

 

What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

  • What do you notice (about the way the message is constructed)?
  • What’s the emotional appeal?
  • What makes it seem “real?”
  • Are there any symbols? Persuasive devices used?

How might different people understand this message differently from me?

  • How many other interpretations could there be?
  • How could we hear about them?
  • How can you explain the different responses?

What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?

  • What type of person is the reader/watcher/listener invited to identify with?
  • What ideas or perspectives are left out?
  • How would you find what’s missing?
  • What judgments or statements are made about how we treat other people?

 

Why is this message being sent?

  • What's being sold in this message? What's being told? 
  • Who is served by or  benefits from the message
    – the public?
    – private interests?
    – individuals?
    – institutions?

5 Key Questions of Media Literacy used with permission from the Center for Media Literacy.
Copyright 2002-2018, Center for Media Literacy, www.medialit.com

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