Sir Mix-a-lot’s Posse on Broadway: Historical Contextualization


Sir Mix-a-lot’s Posse on Broadway: Historical Contextualization



Washington State Library, Office of the Secretary of State



Grade Levels


In this focused inquiry, students investigate the question Can we envision the context of the song 'Posse on Broadway?

Students engage in a listening or reading activity with the song or lyrics and then research the locations, time, place that is referenced in the song.

Lesson Objectives

  • Students will learn to add historical and geographic context to a primary source.


Washington State Social Studies Standards:
  • SSS2.6-8.2.  Evaluate the breadth, reliability, and credibility of primary and secondary sources to determine the need for new or additional information when researching an issue or event.
  • G1.6-8.2.  Identify the location of places and regions in the world and understand their physical and cultural characteristics.
  • H4.6-8.2.  Analyze how a historical event in Washington state history helps us to understand contemporary issues and events.


Focused Inquiry

Staging the Question

Compelling Question:  How can a primary source be more fully understood?

  • Listen to or read the lyrics of the song 'Posse on Broadway' (lyrics are in the Activity Sheet).
  • Discuss the feelings and imagery that are brought up with the words.
  • List questions that are brought up by the lyrics and phrases that you think might be worth pursuing to add detail to understanding of the song.

Formative Performance Task

Supporting Question:  How can we use the geographic and contextual evidence in 'Posse on Broadway' to bring the central district of Seattle in the late 80s to life?

  1. Teachers model how an article can help understand with newspaper articles that mention landmarks in the song (select a paragraph or two to connect to the song):
  2. Students should search Washington Digital Newspapers or, 1990 Census of Population: General Population Characteristics
    • Search for: Central district, Sir Mix-a-lot, Ernie's, Broadway, etc.
  3. Students identify and note 3+ facts or details from sources they locate that relate in some way to parts of the song or questions they identified.
  4. Students should share out in an organized fashion some of their findings.

Taking Informed Action

Argument:  Explain to a first time listener what 3 or more details in the song are referring to. And, how a deeper historical analysis of a primary source helps to understand it better than a first listen/read.

  • Go visit a location mentioned in the song, report back to your class about how it compares to your research.
  • Or, use song research as a launching point for research into gentrification in the central district or a neighborhood near you and the impacts on residents.
Posse on Broadway Lesson Plan with Activity Sheet (form fillable pdf)
Posse on Broadway Activity Sheet (form fillable pdf)