"(What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue" is a powerful and thought-provoking song from the Harlem Renaissance era. While beautiful, it raises tough questions about the nature of race and discrimination in 1920s America.
In this lesson plan, students will explore connotations and denotations of the figure of speech “black and blue”; watch and listen to a historic performance of the 1929 Fats Waller song “(What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue” as performed by Louis Armstrong in 1965; analyze the ability of music to set tone and elicit emotional responses; read the lyrics of the song closely and determine possible meanings of some of its key lyrics; and use textual evidence and historical knowledge to make arguments about life for African Americans during the 1920s.
This lesson is aligned with the Common Core (CCSS) and National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) Standards. It includes accommodations for English Language Learners (ESOL, EFL, ESL), exceptional education (ESE), and gifted students.