Using Film to Explore a City's History of Racism, Redlining, and Resistance

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This group of 13 lesson plans and activities is designed to accompany the documentary film Detroit 48202: Conversations Along a Postal Route, which is distributed by New Day Films. We hope you show the film, but the Teacher's Guide is filled with readings and activities that could be used independently.

Detroit 48202: Conversations Along a Postal Route tells the history of Detroit, and the changes it has gone through over the past half-century through the eyes of a letter carrier, Wendell Watkins, who had the same postal route for 30 years. Through Wendell’s observations and interviews with the customers on his route, we see Detroit in its heyday as the auto capital of the world, its decimation, and its contested resurgence. These longtime residents exhibit both resilience and resistance; voices like theirs are seldom foregrounded in discussions of Detroit, which makes their participation in this film even more important.

The film has 13 chapters; this viewers’ guide has 13 lessons plans that provide pre- and post-viewing suggestions for each chapter. Instructors can choose those activities that are most aligned to their class’s subject area, age level, and interest. These activities are designed to be interactive and often have students working in pairs or small groups. Our goal is for students to articulate their thinking, verbally and/or in writing, rather than listen to lectures. We hope educators will have enough classroom time for their students to view the whole film in one session, but it is also possible to view the film chapter by chapter or to choose the chapters that are most relevant to your students.

Lesson tags: 
Good for Parents
Advanced Placement (AP)
International Baccalaureate (IB)
Creative Commons License: 
Attribution Non-commercial ShareAlike CC (BY-NC-SA)