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I Know Why the Caged Bird SingsTeacher Pass includes:
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Related Readings in Literature & History
Sample of Related History & Literature on Shmoop
PrE-mancipation After the Civil War, African-Americans were "free," but things weren't exactly fine and dandy between races. To understand the context of Angelou's work, it is important to refresh your memory on the Civil War and the issues of slavery that were still lingering even after the war ended.
Jim Crow, not Russell Following the Emancipation of slaves, laws were put into place to keep African-Americans from gaining true equality. These laws stayed on the books far too long, and resulted in segregation and gross inequality, especially in the South. For more historical context, check out Shmoop on Jim Crow.