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Laws & Citizen Rights

The Color Line (Lesson) | Zinn Education Project

The Color Line

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. A lesson on the countless colonial laws enacted to create division and inequality based on race. This helps students understand the origins of racism in the United States and who benefits.
Time Periods: Colonization: 1492 - 1764, 18th Century
Themes: African American, Laws & Citizen Rights, Native American, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery
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Constitution Role Play: Whose “More Perfect Union”? and The Constitutional Convention: Who Really Won?

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 23 pages. The U.S. Constitution endorsed slavery and favored the interests of the owning classes. What kind of Constitution would have resulted from founders who were more representative of the entire country—including enslaved people, workers, and farmers? That is the premise of this role play activity.
Time Periods: 18th Century, Revolution & Constitution: 1765 - 1799
Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery, Social Class
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Five Years After the Levees Broke: Bearing Witness Through Poetry (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Five Years After the Levees Broke: Bearing Witness Through Poetry

Teaching Activity. By Renée Watson. 7 pages. A teacher's reflection on the power of poetry to spark critical discussion and reflection on current issues of inequality surrounding disaster response in the United States.
Time Periods: 21st Century, 2001 - Present
Themes: African American, Art & Music, Environment & Food, Language Arts, Laws & Citizen Rights, Media, Racism & Racial Identity
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‘If There Is No Struggle…’: Teaching a People’s History of the Abolition Movement

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 16 pages. 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
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Japanese American Internment Featured Image

A Lesson on the Japanese American Internment

Teaching Activity. By Mark Sweeting. How one teacher engaged his students in a critical examination of the language used in textbooks to describe the internment.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944
Themes: Asian American, Democracy & Citizenship, Education, Laws & Citizen Rights, Racism & Racial Identity, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
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The Other Internment: Teaching the Hidden Story of Japanese Latin Americans During WWII

Teaching Activity. By Moé Yonamine. 18 pages. 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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Rethinking the U.S. Constitutional Convention: A Role Play | Zinn Education Project

Rethinking the U.S. Constitutional Convention: A Role Play

Teaching Activity. By Bob Peterson. 14 pages. A role play on the Constitutional Convention which brings to life the social forces active during and immediately following the American Revolution with focus on two key topics: suffrage and slavery. An elementary school adaptation of the Constitution Role Play by Bill Bigelow. Roles available in Spanish.
Time Periods: 18th Century, Revolution & Constitution: 1765 - 1799
Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Native American, Slavery, Women's History
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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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Sun City – A Teaching Guide

Teaching Guide. By Bill Bigelow. Lessons to accompany the 1985 video "Sun City" that promoted the cultural boycott of South Africa initiated by Little Steven van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen’s E St. Band.
Time Periods: 20th Century, Post-Civil Rights Era: 1975 - 2000
Themes: Art & Music, Laws & Citizen Rights, Racism & Racial Identity, World History/Global Studies
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What Rights Do We Have?

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow and Norm Diamond. This lesson teaches some of the nuts and bolts of labor unions and then moves beyond to ask students to consider what rights they have at work, and to recognize that “rights” depend in large part on what people have fought for and won.
Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Labor, Laws & Citizen Rights, Organizing
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Reconstruction Mixer Collage (Updated) | Zinn Education Project

When the Impossible Suddenly Became Possible: A Reconstruction Mixer

Teaching Activity. By Adam Sanchez and Nqobile Mthethwa. 25 pages. A mixer role play that explores the connections between different social movements during Reconstruction.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, Reconstruction Period: 1865 - 1876
Themes: African American, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery
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Reconstructing the South: A Role Play

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 17 pages. This role play engages students in thinking about what freedpeople needed in order to achieve—and sustain—real freedom following the Civil War. It's followed by a chapter from the book Freedom's Unfinished Revolution on what would happen to the land in the South after slavery ended.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Reconstruction Period: 1865 - 1876
Themes: African American, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery
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The Black Upsurge Against Racial Segregation

Teaching Activity. By Tasha Boettcher. Questions and teaching ideas for Chapter 17 of Voices of a People's History of the United States on the long Civil Rights Movement in America.
Time Periods: 20th Century, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Laws & Citizen Rights, Racism & Racial Identity, Social Class
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The Early Women’s Movement

Teaching Activity. By Gayle Olson-Raymer. Questions and teaching ideas for Chapter 6 of Voices of a People's History of the United States on the early women's movement, including their efforts for social, racial, and political equality.
Time Periods: 19th Century
Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Women's History
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Half a Revolution

Teaching Activity. By Gayle Olson-Raymer. 16 pages. Questions and teaching ideas for Chapter 5 of Voices of a People's History of the United States on the Revolutionary War as "a rich man's war and a poor man's fight," as well as the failure of early Americans to complete a full revolution.
Time Periods: 18th Century, Revolution & Constitution: 1765 - 1799
Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Social Class
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