Civil Rights Movements

COINTELPRO: Teaching the FBI’s War on the Black Freedom Movement

Teaching Activity. By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca. 29 pages. Rethinking Schools. Through examining FBI documents, students learn the scope of the FBI’s COINTELPRO campaign to spy on, infiltrate, discredit, and disrupt all corners of the Black Freedom Movement.
Time Periods: 20th Century, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974, Post-Civil Rights Era: 1975 - 2000
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity
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Hidden in Plain Sight: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Radical Vision (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Hidden in Plain Sight: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Radical Vision

Teaching Activity. By Craig Gordon, Urban Dreams, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project. 2003, updated in 2017. Lesson to introduce students to the speeches and work of Dr. King beyond "I have a dream."
Time Periods: 20th Century, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: Civil Rights Movements, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
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How Red Lines Built White Wealth: A Lesson on Housing Segregation in the 20th Century

Teaching Activity. By Ursula Wolfe-Rocca. Rethinking Schools. The mixer role play is based on Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law, which shows in exacting detail how government policies segregated every major city in the United States with dire consequences for African Americans.
Time Periods: 20th Century, 21st Century
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Economics, Laws & Citizen Rights
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collage of six Black abolitionists in the United States.

‘If There Is No Struggle…’: Teaching a People’s History of the Abolition Movement

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 16 pages. Rethinking Schools. In this role play, students become members of the American Anti-Slavery Society, facing many of the real challenges to ending slavery.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance
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Lessons in Solidarity: Grady Hospital Workers United (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Lessons in Solidarity: Grady Hospital Workers United

Teaching Activity. By Larry Miller. Rethinking Schools. Story and discussion questions about a teacher's own experience of labor solidarity.
Time Periods: 20th Century, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Labor
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The Other Internment: Teaching the Hidden Story of Japanese Latin Americans During WWII

Teaching Activity. By Moé Yonamine. 18 pages. Rethinking Schools. Poetry, photography, and text are used in this role play to teach about the seldom told history of Japanese Latin American internment during WWII.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944
Themes: Asian American, Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Immigration, Laws & Citizen Rights, Racism & Racial Identity, US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements, World History/Global Studies
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Our Grandparents’ Civil Rights Era: Family Letters Bring History to Life (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Our Grandparents’ Civil Rights Era: Family Letters Bring History to Life

Teaching Activity. By Willow McCormick. Rethinking Schools. An elementary school teacher connects the Civil Rights Movement to students’ family history by asking their grandparents to share their memories of the Movement.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Cold War: 1945 - 1960, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: Civil Rights Movements
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A Revolution of Values

Teaching Activity. By Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 3 pages. Text of speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the Vietnam War, followed by three teaching ideas.
Time Periods: 20th Century, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Imperialism, US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
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School Days: Hail, Hail, Rock ‘n’ Roll! (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

School Days: Hail, Hail, Rock ‘n’ Roll!

Teaching Activity. By Rick Mitchell. Rethinking Schools. Description of a course on the history of music in the United States.
Time Periods: 20th Century, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: African American, Art & Music, Civil Rights Movements, Racism & Racial Identity
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Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton | Zinn Education Project

Seneca Falls, 1848: Women Organize for Equality

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. A role play allows students to examine issues of race and class when exploring both the accomplishments and limitations of the Seneca Falls Convention.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849
Themes: Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Organizing, Women's History
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Sharecroppers Challenge U.S. Apartheid: The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party

Teaching Activity. By Julian Hipkins III, Deborah Menkart, Sara Evers, and Jenice View. Role play on the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) that introduces students to a vital example of small “d” democracy in action. For grades 7+.
Time Periods: 20th Century, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Organizing
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Stenciling Dissent: A Student Project Draws on the Language of the Streets (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Stenciling Dissent: A Student Project Draws on the Language of the Streets

Teaching Activity. By Andrew Reed. Rethinking Schools. Teaching activity connects students to history of art as a means of protest and gives them opportunity and skills to create their own stencil with a powerful message.
Time Periods: All US History
Themes: Art & Music, Civil Rights Movements, Laws & Citizen Rights, Organizing
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Stepping into Selma: Voting Rights History and Legacy Today (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Stepping into Selma: Voting Rights History and Legacy Today

Teaching Activity. Teaching for Change. 2015. Introductory lesson on key people and events in the long history of the Selma freedom movement.
Time Periods: 20th Century, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Organizing, Social Class
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Teaching SNCC: The Organization at the Heart of the Civil Rights Revolution

Teaching Activity. By Adam Sanchez. 24 pages. Rethinking Schools. A series of role plays that explore the history and evolution of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, including freedom rides and voter registration.
Time Periods: 20th Century, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974, Post-Civil Rights Era: 1975 - 2000
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity, Social Class, Women's History
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Daisy Bates, Little Rock 9, and NAACP officers | Zinn Education Project

Warriors Don’t Cry: Connecting History, Literature, and Our Lives

Teaching Activity. By Linda Christensen. Rethinking Schools. Role play and writing activities for language arts and social studies on the Little Rock Nine, Brown v. Board, and schooling in general. Designed for use with the memoir Warriors Don’t Cry.
Time Periods: 20th Century, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Education, Language Arts, Racism & Racial Identity
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We Had Set Ourselves Free’: Lessons on the Civil Rights Movement (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

‘We Had Set Ourselves Free’: Lessons on the Civil Rights Movement

Teaching Activity. By Doug Sherman. Rethinking Schools. The author describes how he uses biographies and film to introduce students to the role of people involved in the Civil Rights Movement beyond the familiar heroes. He emphasizes the role and experiences of young people in the Movement.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Cold War: 1945 - 1960, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity
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