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Diversity as an American Value

125 min

Guiding Questions

  • How would you assess President Eisenhower’s constitutional justification for using federal troops to enforce a court’s order to integrate?
  • Why is freedom of conscience an essential part of individual liberty?
  • Why is respect for individual liberty, including political, religious, and economic liberty, critical for the success of a diverse nation?


  • Students will analyze the movement to desegregate the United States in general through the specific case of Eisenhower’s order.
  • Consider the significance of individual liberty – political, religious, and economic – in a diverse nation.

  • equality
  • Declaration of Independence
  • liberty
  • suffrage
  • republic
  • justice
  • Founders
  • Constitution
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Nineteenth Amendment

Have students read the Diversity as an American Value Essay.

The Diversity as an American Value Essay points out that “Americans have not always lived up to their ideals.” Name some groups in American history who have needed to fight for liberty, equality, and justice.

Near the end of the essay you find this sentence: “Moreover, these groups did not merely make appeals to the principles of the Founding documents for their liberty and equality but worked within the effective institutions created by the Constitution to fight for equal rights in a practical way.” Name some specific ways that groups used their constitutionally protected rights to gain more security in those constitutional rights.

Have students work in small groups to read Handout A: Eisenhower and the Little Rock Crisis Essay. After reading, each group should talk through the Critical Thinking questions.

Playing on the reading, and the initial conversation about that reading and the questions, students will work with the following handouts.

Discuss: How do these images and documents show the constitutional passages in action? As the group discusses the documents, have them fill in Handout G: Analyzing Documents to show the connections they find. Wrap up this part of the lesson by asking: How is the president compelled by the amendments (therefore the Constitution) to take action in a way that the governor could/would not?

Have students read Handouts H and I, either in class or for homework. Students should underline the main ideas as they read. Have them work in small groups to consider the significance of freedom of conscience as an aspect of diversity. Have each group draft a statement concerning liberty of conscience that they believe Penn, Washington, Madison, and Jefferson would agree with. Convene the whole class and ask groups to share their statements concerning liberty of conscience.

Ask students what civic virtues are necessary in order to support and maintain liberty, justice, and equality for all.

Have students write a 1-2 paragraph critique of Eisenhower’s actions in the Little Rock Crisis, considering the Executive Order and his Address to the Nation.

Student Handouts

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