Unit 5 Assessment – Analyze and Infer

Unit 5 Assessment – Analyze and Infer




Watch the following video.


As you watch the video, think about the following:


  • What do you think the song means about Being Beaten?
  • Why do you think Joe chuckles so much?
  • How did you react to listening to the interchange between Joe and the interviewer knowing that Joe was a very old man who had been a slave in the South?
  • What do you think about when you hear Joe McDonald talking from personal experience about being a slave picking cotton in the American South?
  • Why does he use a word that non-black people should not use in today’s world?
  • Does it have a different meaning now than it did then?
  • What reality does this song depict for Joe and people like him?
  • In what ways is that reality still present in today’s world, perhaps just dressed up to be more covert?




After taking notes during the video, write an essay addressing each of the questions. Include evidence from the video, and provide a strong analysis about the relationships that the world that Joe lived in to the world that you now live in. Draw from personal experience as well as from stories you have heard from your family members or others in your community.


McDonald, J., (1940). Before I’ll be beaten. Retrieved from





Solution Preview

Joe McDonald sings the cotton picking song while strongly emphasizing the words “before I’ll be beaten” all through the song. Slaves used songs as their way of bonding and allude to the idea of freedom which was their concern. The words being beaten could have been used to imply freedom through death where the “old Virginia nigga” may mean the cause of death. The song seems of a spiritual kind alluding to the fact that through death will freedom come for the slaves.

It is surprising to hear Joe chuckle so much as you would expect him to have a remorseful position from the pain of the past.

(602 words)

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