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Guiding Question: To what extent did Founding principles of liberty, equality, and justice become a reality for African Americans in the latter half of the twentieth century to today? What work must still be done?
- Students will analyze the application of Founding principles of liberty, justice, and equality in this time period by:
- Analyzing ideas and actions regarding equality and justice through examination of primary source documents.
- Examining the ways in which legislation and policy, the courts, and individuals and groups were complementary in the quest to fully realize equality and justice for all, and the ways in which these methods of change were in conflict.
- Students will reflect on the ideas, institutions, and individuals in history in order to understand how we might apply the lessons gleaned from this period to today.
- Students will analyze the fracturing of the civil rights movement in the 1960s and make comparisons to continued movements for equality and justice in the African American community today.
The following lesson asks students to look at primary source documents as they consider the following question: To what extent did Founding principles of liberty, equality, and justice become a reality for African Americans in the latter half of the twentieth century to today? What work must still be done? The documents come from a variety of actors: legislators and policy makers, the courts, and individuals and groups. As students go through the documents, encourage them not only to think about the principles of liberty, equality, and justice, but also about the way in which these groups interact with each other in creating or stalling change.
The main activity in this lesson requires students to conduct primary source analysis. Two sets of primary sources are included with this lesson: a longer set and an abbreviated set. The abbreviated documents have been selected for learners with lower reading levels or for classes wishing to explore the guiding questions for this lesson that cannot dedicate as much time to it. Questions have been provided for each primary source. Teachers may choose to use the provided questions as scaffolds for students or remove them as best suits their teaching situation. Graphic organizers have been provided to use as an additional tool alongside the questions accompanying each document or in place of them.
For primary source analysis, students may work individually, in pairs, or in small groups as best fits your classroom. Additionally, primary sources can serve as the basis for a stations or jigsaw activity.
Have students complete the Introductory Essay and accompanying questions.
Distribute the primary source President John F. Kennedy’s Address on Civil Rights, June 11, 1963.
Have students read the speech excerpt and answer the accompanying questions. Ask them to think about how long the fight for equality and justice for African Americans has been taking place, and how that length of time can affect those working in the struggle. Encourage students to think about why shifts in the civil rights movement happened as the 1960s progressed.
Students will analyze the primary sources using the questions. They can work individually, in pairs, or in small groups as best fits your classroom. Use the provided questions as scaffolds for students or remove them as best suits your teaching situation.
A graphic organizer can also be used as an option for document analysis.
Once students have completed the primary sources, distribute the Concluding Analysis. Sorting the documents into the three groups can be done as a class, individually, in pairs, or small groups as best fits your classroom. Note that students may place a document in more than one category. If this happens, encourage them to explain their reasoning to generate discussion.
Allow students time to complete the final conclusion and analysis questions individually. These questions are meant to generate discussion.
Debrief with a class discussion if time permits and your classroom culture is well suited to dialogue. Students may also want to share their responses in small groups or with you privately in the form of responses/postings to a class website.
Have students reflect on and answer the following question:
Identify a historical moment whose significance struck you, or a person whose words or actions resonated with you. What lesson did this moment or person teach you? How might we apply that to the present day?
- Using the primary sources in this lesson, have students create an annotated timeline of important events during this time period. They should include a written response to the essential question, “To what extent did Founding principles of liberty, equality, and justice become a reality for African Americans in the civil rights movement?”
- Assign students one or more documents contained in this primary source set and have them create a brief report or presentation on the context of the document(s), including the time and place created, the author and audience, and important phrases and arguments from the full text.
- Have students look into the controversy over busing that occurred in the 1960s and 1970s. How was this policy intended to support the overarching goal of realizing equality in education? Was it successful?
- Have students examine the different perspectives on affirmative action policies by completing the Point-Counterpoint: Are affirmative action policies justified as a way to ensure opportunities for traditionally underrepresented groups? Or do they result in engineered outcomes that discriminate toward other groups?
- Have students look into the role of sports and protest. What connections can they draw between Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics and athletes of the National Football League (NFL) such as Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem?
- Have students investigate the founding of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
- Research events surrounding the killing of Trayvon Martin, the trial and acquittal of George Zimmerman, and the subsequent public response.
- Research events surrounding the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mississippi and the subsequent public response.
- Research events surrounding the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the subsequent public response.
- How did each of these events affect the #BlackLivesMatter movement? Are there parallels between this movement and other movements studied in this curriculum?
Lesson 7: The Work Continues: Final Project
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke | BRI’s Homework Help Series
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke was a case brought to the Supreme Court over the use of Affirmative Action in the college admission process. The University of California at Davis Medical School created a minimum minority student quote for the admissions department to fill each year. Bakke, a two-time UC-Davis Med School rejected applicant, sued the school for violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment and title VI of the Civil Rights Acts. Ultimately, the Supreme Court justices ruled in support of the goals of Affirmative Action, but also stated that Bakke was, in fact, denied equal protection. This decision, because it was so muddled, did not set long-tern precedents or clarifications concerning Affirmative Action.
Maya Angelou, “On the Pulse of Morning,” January 20, 1993
Use this primary source text to explore key historical events.