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Glossary

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Term Definition Lesson number
abolitionist A person who wants to get rid of slavery 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
affirmative action Programs meant to correct previous inequalities by ensuring equal treatment to members of previously disadvantaged groups 15, 16
agency The ability of a person to exercise free will and make choices 6, 12
antebellum Occurring directly before a war; often refers to the period before the U.S. Civil War 6
BCE Before Common Era (years that came before 0) 1
Black Codes Laws written by southern states after the Civil War designed to keep African Americans from being truly free. These laws later evolved into Jim Crow laws. 8, 9
blaxploitation A film genre that mainly depicts African Americans as a criminal underclass 16
blockbusting A real estate business trick in which property owners and agents sell several homes in a predominantly white neighborhood to African Americans, then stoke fear of a change in the neighborhood, buy up white property cheaply, and resell it for a profit 13
boycott To stop using a product or patronizing a business in order to protest or to apply pressure so that the business will change its policies 14
busing Transporting school children between traditionally segregated school districts to encourage integration 15, 16
caricature A gross exaggeration of stereotypical features 9
cash crops Crops raised for profit rather than direct consumption 3, 5
carpetbagger An insulting term used in the post-Civil War South for Northerners who moved south to take public office 8, 9
CE Common Era (years in the current era after the year 0) 1
conservatism The tendency to preserve cultural traditions 1, 16
contraband A term for illegal goods; used during the Civil War for enslaved people who were confiscated by the U.S. Army 7
desegregation Acting to remove legal segregation of people based on race or ethnicity 9, 11, 13, 14, 16
diaspora The spreading of people from one place to many; or the people who have been distributed around the world. The African diaspora refers to the movement of people from Africa. Other diasporas include the Greek diaspora and the Jewish diaspora. 2, 15
disenfranchise To prevent a group of people from exercising the right to vote 8, 9, 10, 14, 15
First Great Migration A movement of over a million African Americans from rural areas in the South to cities in both the South and the North. This migration began in the nadir of American race relations around 1890, accelerated with the need for workers in northern factories in World War I (1914-1918), and ended around 1940, which is when the Second Great Migration began. 10, 11, 12
freedmen The legal term for emancipated African Americans after the Civil War 4, 8, 9
gang During times of enslavement, gangs were groups of enslaved workers 3
gangsta rap A genre of hip hop depicting life in the inner cities, usually with violent themes 16
gentrification The movement of rich people settling into a lower-class area 15
gerrymandering The practice of drawing unusually shaped districts for a political goal. A gerrymandered district may be drawn to include a majority of people of the same ethnicity or of the same class. 16
Great Migration See First Great Migration or Second Great Migration  
griot A traditional African storyteller who recites stories from oral tradition 1
Gullah A language and culture of African Americans living on the coast of South Carolina 7
hip hop Music style that emerged in the late 1970s blending funk, spoken word, jazz scat, and Jamaican beats 1, 16
housing covenant Restrictive language built into a house deed to prevent its sale to non-white families 13, 15
ideology A set of ideas and beliefs, particularly in politics 4, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15
indentured servant A person who contracts to work a set amount of time as an unfree person until a debt is paid 2, 3, 4
Jim Crow The generic name for laws or customs that segregated races in 19th and 20th century America 9, 10,11, 12, 13, 15, 16
Koran Religious text of Islam 1
lynching A public murder by a mob which usually involves the torture and inhumane killing of a person accused of a crime 9, 10, 11, 12, 13
maroons Communities of escaped African Americans or African Caribbeans 6
Middle Passage The journey by ship on the Atlantic Ocean from Africa to the Americas 2
mulatto A now outdated and offensive term which historically applied to a person with both white and black heritage, or with biracial heritage 3, 4
nadir of American race relations The time in America's history when race relations were at their worst, around 1890 to 1920 9, 10
new social history A discipline of history that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s making use of sociology, folklore, economics, and political science to study the past; often approaching history from the perspective of average people rather than rulers or elites 16
oral tradition Stories passed down from generation to generation but not written down 1, 6
overseer A person who manages a gang of enslaved people or an entire plantation on behalf of its owner 3, 8
paradox An idea or practice that contradicts itself 3, 4, 13
pharaoh Ruler of the ancient kingdom of Egypt 1
philanthropist A person who gives gifts to support people or causes 10, 11
popular sovereignty Philosophy that people have the ultimate authority to determine laws by voting 5
primitivism A condescending belief that non-industrialized non-white people live a purer, simpler, and happier life 11
Quaker A member of the Society of Friends, a religious group which believes in full equality 3, 4, 5, 6
racial profiling Using a person's race to determine whether the person is suspicious and should be investigated; profiling can consist of stopping racial or ethnic minorities for minor traffic offenses in order to question or search them for contraband 15
redlining The practice of barring African American residents in a neighborhood from receiving financial services based solely on their residence in that neighborhood; the name derives from drawing red lines around these areas on a map 13, 15
scalawag An insulting term used in the post-Civil War South for Southerners who supported Reconstruction 8
scat singing A freeform style of singing and musical vocalizations in which the singer emulates the sounds, beats, and tones of jazz instruments 13, 16
scientific racism A trend in the late 19th century which twisted biology and evolutionary science to promote theories of white racial superiority over other races 9, 11
seasoning The time when enslaved people or indentured servants adjusted to the hot climate in the Americas, often becoming sick and dying 2, 3
secede To declare independence or disconnection from a country 6, 7, 8, 9
Second Great Migration The movement of over 5 million African Americans from rural areas in the South to industrial areas in the North, the West, and the South, beginning around 1940 and ending around 1970. Together with the First Great Migration this movement is one of the largest movements of people in American history. 13
segregation The division of a place, thing, or service along racial lines 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16
self-determination The right of a group to determine its destiny and achieve its goals 14
sharecropping A farming practice in which families farm part of a landlord's property in exchange for a share of the harvest 8, 9, 10, 12
slave codes A general name given to the state laws in the pre-Civil War South that gave enslavers near total control over enslaved African Americans 3, 6, 8
slave driver A person who was in charge of enslaved workers and, often using brutal techniques, made sure they completed their tasks 3
states' rights A belief that each state in the U.S. has the right to govern itself without interference from the federal government; often used to mean that the federal government cannot stop slavery or help oppressed minorities in the states 6, 7, 9, 14, 15
strikebreakers Term applied to workers who replaced regular employees who had gone on strike or were refusing to work 8, 10
tariff Tax on goods coming from a foreign country 4, 5
triangular trade Trading manufactured goods from Europe for enslaved Africans, then enslaved Africans for American crops, and finally trading the crops for European goods 2
vagrancy A term implying unemployment which was often unfairly applied to African Americans during Reconstruction 8
white backlash White voters reacting against the gains of the Civil Rights Era, both consciously and unconsciously 15
white flight Rich people--mainly white people--moving from urban areas to suburbs 13, 14, 15, 16