Overview
Step One: Introduction to human right: Poetry of oppression
Step Two: Human rights watch
Step Three: Storytellers
Step Four: Voices of dissent

Overview

“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced”-Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala
Malala Yousafzai, the youngest-ever Nobel Prize recipient, gained worldwide acclaim due to her brave stand for female education around the world. Malala was shot at point blank range by a Taliban gunman due to her commitment to this cause. Since her recovery, she has continued to fight for right of all children to an education.

The Taliban is, unfortunately, just one of many oppressive regimes that have gained power during modern times. Many great leaders and writers speak of the importance and power of bearing witness to the suffering caused by oppression. Although inspirational speakers like Malala receive much of our attention, writers of all genres have had a profound impact on situations of oppression, so much so that many have been imprisoned, exiled, or even executed for the power they wield in words.

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Step One: Introduction to human rights: Poetry of oppression

Rationale: Some of the deepest expressions of the effect oppression has on human beings have come from poetry. From the depths of despair to the heights of human resolve, poetry is perhaps best equipped to express the extreme emotions evoked by the experience of oppression.

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Step Two: Human rights watch

Rationale: Many times we believe that oppression is a behavior that happened in the past and that will never happen on such a large scale again. The fact is that human rights abuses still occur around the world. In this portion of our unit, we will practice sound research methods to compile a list of these abuses, creating a map of oppression in the world today.

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Human Rights Websites:

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Step Three: Storytellers

Rationale: Nigeria’s Chinua Achebe, one of the 20th century’s most esteemed writers, once wrote, "Storytellers are a threat. They threaten all champions of control, they frighten usurpers of the right-to-freedom of the human spirit." Although resistance to oppression may require charismatic leaders and brave fighters, it also requires storytellers, because the storyteller creates “the memory that survivors must have--otherwise their surviving would have no meaning.”

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Step Four: Voices of dissent

Rationale: Great speeches have played a particularly important role in combating oppression and, as such, deserve attention as a genre eminently well suited for inspiring, mobilizing, and uniting people to stand up for their rights—as well as those of others. In this unit, we learn about means of persuasion and rhetorical devices, the tools that speakers use to evoke a powerful effect response from their audiences, identifying these techniques in great speeches. Finally, using these techniques, you develop and deliver your own speech on a topic related oppression and human rights.

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