What's Going On?

 USC Shoah Foundation
Grade Level:
  6 -  8
Estimated completion time:
 1 hour(s)
Standards Addressed:
Subject Area:
 Character Education, Social Studies, English Language Arts, Ethics, Genocide Studies, Humanities, Media & Digital Literacy

In this activity, students will analyze the 1971 hit song, "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye and will consider the issues of dehumanization, violence and prejudice it highlights and the message conveyed through the lyrics. Students will then watch and analyze testimony from individuals who discuss their personal experiences with these same issues during different periods of the 20th-century. They will then draw connections between the song's lyrics, testimony and/or a social issue they've heard about in the news today. By the end of this activity, students will write an original song that addresses a current social issue and a possible solution they think will make a difference to break historical patterns.

This activity features clips from Paul Parks and David Cohen, US liberators (Holocaust); Arshag Dickranian, an Armenian Genocide survivor, Gaoshan Li, a Nanjing Massacre survivor and Theary Seng, a Cambodian Genocide survivor.

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