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Gertrude 'Ma' Rainey - Ma Rainey's Black Bottom - Paramounr

Grades
8 to 12
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Ma Rainey's "Black Bottom" is the theme song for August Wilson's play from 1982 and the Netflix movie from 2020 of the same name. The song, first recorded in 1927, ...more
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Ma Rainey's "Black Bottom" is the theme song for August Wilson's play from 1982 and the Netflix movie from 2020 of the same name. The song, first recorded in 1927, is still relevant today; it is set in the 1920s in Chicago and deals with themes of Black art and culture, racial tension, and power. This song resides on YouTube and may not be available in your classroom.

tag(s): african american (96), black history (98), blues (20), plays (26)

In the Classroom

Are you studying Black history or the Blues? Then your students need to know about Ma Rainey. Have them read Ma Rainey's biography, reviewed here, and then listen to one of Ma Rainey's most famous songs. Ask pairs or small groups to listen carefully and pick out phrases that would still apply to Black Americans today. Use a tool such as Padlet, reviewed here, to list the example phrases and research current topics that are relevant. With Padlet, students can post various resources such as videos, primary sources, and books.

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