LEO: Living for the City

BLUESONG GUIDE DESCRIPTIONStevie Wonder’s upbeat song “Living for the City,” is a pulsating 70s track that soulfully paints a picture of the struggles faced by African-Americans who moved from the south to Northern Cities. Filled with memorable lyrics, a thumping bass groove and sound effects this song is ideal for classroom study on its own or with books like: A Raisin in the Sun, The Watson’s Go to Birmingham, Invisible Man, The Jungle and House on Mango Street.

Mindblue’s differentiated lesson plan is filled with multi-disciplinary activities linking the song to the artwork of Faith Ringgold, the sociology of the persevering family, and movies like the Spike Lee drama Crooklyn.


Political Disenfranchisement



The Great Black Migration





The Watson's Go to Birmingham - Christopher Paul Curtis

Monster - Walter Dean Myers

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry - Mildred Taylor

House on Mango Street - Sandra Cisneros

Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

Raisin in the Sun - Lorraine Hansberry

Slaves of New York - Tama Janowitz

Crossing California – Adam Langer

The Jungle - Upton Sinclair

Bodega Dreams – Ernesto Quinonez

Joy Luck Club - Amy Tan

Dragonwings - Lawrence Yep

Nickel and Dimed - Barbara Ehrenreich

The Autobiography of Malcolm X – Alex Haley and Malcolm X

Young, Black and Gifted (Young, Gifted and Black) - Lorraine Hansberry

Harvard Works Because We Do - Greg Halpern

Letter from Birmingham Jail – Martin Luther King Jr.

Angela’s Ashes – Frank McCourt

Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A. - Luis Rodriguez

Down These Mean Streets - Piri Thomas

Black Boy - Richard Wright Native Son – Richard Wright


"Broadway" - Mark Doty

"Mother to Son" - Langston Hughes


The Bicycle Thief (1949, NR)

City Lights (1931, NR)

City of Joy (1992, PG-13)

Crooklyn (1994, PG-13)

In America (2002, PG-13)

Oliver Twist (2005, PG-13)


Look at Faith Ringgold’s narrative quilt “Tar Beach” (1988) at the Guggenheim Museum’s website.

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