Teaching Activities (Free)

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

Teaching Activity. By Doug Sherman. Rethinking Schools. 4 pages.
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, 1945, 1961
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity

We Had Set Ourselves Free’: Lessons on the Civil Rights Movement (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's HistoryThe Civil Rights Movement lies at the margins of my memory. For today’s high school students, it is a generation or more distant. In spite of good intentions, when the new year brings the anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and Black History Month, school activities often reduce the Civil Rights Movement to a scenario of ‘heroic leader and brave followers.’

Less often explored is the experience of those whose everyday lives intersected with the struggle, and who responded with the kind of life-changing decisions that formed the heart of the movement.

This article by Doug Sherman describes his use of first person narratives such as Selma, Lord, Selma and films such as Eyes on the Prize to teach the often untold stories of the Civil Rights Movement.

Lesson originally published by Rethinking Schools | Zinn Education ProjectThis article was originally published by Rethinking Schools in an edition of Rethinking Schools magazine (Winter 1995/96).