Teacher Lesson Ideas

The Tobacco Strike of 1945

After discussing reasons for labor strikes, eighth grade students use the events of the Food, Tobacco, Agricultural, and Allied Workers-Congress of Industrial Organizations’ (FTA-CIO) 1945 strike against the American Tobacco plant in Charleston, over wages and discrimination, to discuss the impact of a strike on a local community.  Documents from the Isaiah Bennett Collection at the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture in Charleston illustrate the events of the strike and, along with a recording and lyrics of the song We Shall Overcome, provide the basis for students to create posters and to write and perform dramatic skits.  These products demonstrate the students understanding of the lives of ordinary Americans, especially the struggles of minorities and women, in the post-war South.

Lorna Espenshade
C.E. Williams Middle School, SC
2004 Lowcountry Institute

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