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Diversity as an American Value

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

Diversity as an American Value Activity: Racial Diversity – President Eisenhower and The Little Rock Nine

Critical Question: Evaluate President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s use of federal troops to enforce a federal court’s orders to integrate schools in Little Rock, Arkansas.

To provide students with background knowledge for this lesson, distribute Handout A: Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Little Rock Crisis and have them read it and answer the questions.

Distribute Handout B: Constitution and Amendments. Leading the class as a large group, read the documents one at a time and answer the questions that follow each.

Distribute the documents for this lesson, Handouts C-F. Assign students to pairs or trios to read Handouts C-F and to complete Handout G: Analyzing Documents.

When students have completed their reading and analysis of their assigned documents, bring them together as a large group to compare and discuss document connections students noted on Handout G.

Debrief with students about what they have learned about the events of September, 1957. Ask why integration was a value that the federal government pursued. Elicit from students an assessment of how this case, and the events surrounding it, influenced racial diversity as a cultural value in the United States. Culminate the discussion by asking for their initial response to the question, “How would you assess President Eisenhower’s constitutional justification for using federal troops to enforce a court’s order to integrate?”

Give students the entire class period to write a well-organized essay in response to the question: “Evaluate President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s use of federal troops to enforce a federal court’s orders to integrate schools in Little Rock, Arkansas.”


Diversity as an American Value Activity: Religious Diversity – William Penn and Religious Liberty

Lead a large-group discussion in which you can assess students’ background knowledge and understandings about William Penn and about the history of religious liberty in England and the United States. Distribute Handout H: William Penn – Faith, Not Force and have students read the essay and answer the related questions.

Ask students how the civic virtue of respect is related to religious liberty in the United States. As discussion allows, share the following quotations and invite students’ responses to them:

  • “In republics, the great danger is, that the majority may not sufficiently respect the rights of the minority.” (James Madison)
  • “We should begin by setting conscience free. When all men of all religions… shall enjoy equal liberty, property, and an equal chance for honors and power… we may expect that improvements will be made in the human character and the state of society.” (John Adams)

Assign students to groups of 3 – 4. Distribute Handout I: Founders’ Views About Respect for Religious Beliefs. Have the students, in their groups, read the excerpts and answer the questions. When they complete this task, re-gather as a large group.

Lead a class discussion which may include questions such as the following:

  • What is the difference between tolerance and respect?
  • What might be the relationship between “tyranny of the majority” and religious liberty?
  • Is it possible for a government to respect all religions under the law? Should it? Why or why not?
  • Are religious liberty and respect for religion mutually exclusive? Can you only have one but not the other?

Have students find a newspaper or magazine article about a contemporary issue which involves respect for religion, then write a one-page summary of the article as well as a one-page analysis of the conflicting viewpoints discussed.

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Native Americans