In this lesson students analyze what motivated students to join the movement and what their experiences were like as activists in SNCC.
How did Black Mississippians resist white supremacy and claim their constitutional rights?
Second edition. February 2019.
The civil rights movement was one of the most pivotal events in U.S. history. Today we think of the key leaders, mass demonstrations, and watershed legislation that have become synonymous with this movement. Often forgotten are the everyday people who were on the frontlines of the fight for justice and equality, working for change in their home communities. Many historians believe that we should think of the civil rights movement not as one national movement, but as a collection of local movements that worked for racial justice in towns and cities across the country.
This curriculum explores the history of the civil rights movement at a local level. Mississippi was one of the most racially divided states in the South. It symbolized the oppression and violence of white supremacy, and the strong Black movement that rose up in response. The unit is divided into three parts. Each part includes:
- Student readings
- Accompanying study guides, graphic organizers, and key terms
Lessons aligned with the readings that develop analytical skills and can be completed in one or more periods
- Videos that feature leading experts
This unit also includes a Perspectives Lesson as the key lesson and an additional synthesis lesson that allows students to synthesize new knowledge for assessment. You do not need to use the entire unit; feel free to select what suits your classroom needs.
Preview this unit. Preview includes the Table of Contents for the Student Text and the Teacher Resource Book as well as a student reading excerpt and one lesson plan.
“The civil rights unit is a great unit and priced so well that teachers don’t need to beg administrators to buy it for them. Choices units help teachers to add rich curriculum without relying on the whim of department chairs’ funding.” – Ce, History Teacher, New York
Part I: The Meaning of Freedom
In Part I of the reading, students consider the historical roots of racial inequality and discrimination by exploring the end of slavery, Reconstruction, and the rise of Jim Crow. There are two lessons aligned with Part I: 1) Data Analysis: Separate, but Equal? Measuring Plessy v. Ferguson in Mississippi, and 2) The Anti-Lynching Campaign of Ida B. Wells.
Part II: The Freedom Movement
In Part II of the reading, students examine the movement that developed in Mississippi, and the ways in which national and local forces interacted at the grassroots level. There are three lessons aligned with Part II: 1) Women's Experiences in SNCC, 2) Singing for Freedom, and 3) Oral Histories: Students in the Civil Rights Movement.
Part III: The Struggle Continues
Part III concludes with an examination of the legacies of the civil rights movement and the challenges to equality that exist today. There are two lessons aligned with Part III: 1) A Nonviolent Movement? and 2) Civil Rights and U.S. Public Schools Today.
Data Analysis: Separate, but Equal? Measuring Plessy v. Ferguson in Mississippi
Students analyze historical data to compare education resources for white and black students in Mississippi.
The Anti-Lynching Campaign of Ida B. Wells
Students use primary sources to examine the work of an early civil rights activist.
Women's Experiences in SNCC
Students use primary sources to understand the experiences of SNCC organizers in Mississippi.
Singing for Freedom
Students analyze songs sung by the Freedom Riders in 1961 and consider their importance in the civil rights movement.
In this online lesson, students hear stories from former civil rights activists about what motivated them to join the movement.
Considering the Perspectives—1964: The Atlantic City Democratic National Convention
Perspectives Lesson: This is the key lesson in this unit. Students assume the roles of historians and use primary sources to explore the 1964 Democratic National Convention, at which African American delegates from the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party challenged the legitimacy of the all-white Mississippi Democratic Party.
A Nonviolent Movement?
Students use primary sources to assess popular perceptions of the civil rights movement and examine different perspectives on the role of violence.
Civil Rights and U.S. Public Schools Today
Students review the role of two Supreme Court decisions: Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education and consider arguments around the issue of school segregation.
Synthesis Lesson: In this online lesson, students review a timeline of black activism, identify patterns and themes, consider accomplishments of civil rights activists and the enduring obstacles to racial equality, and evaluate platforms for activism and the role of social media in protests.
For use in the lesson “Singing for Freedom”