Civil Disobedience and Political Change in the 1960s

A lesson plan for grade 8 by Lee Adcock

Learning Outcomes

Students will compare and contrast "Civil Disobedience" and "Nonviolent resistance" during the Civil Rights era in N.C.

Students will analyze changes in North Carolina during the postwar period to the 1970's.

Students will assess the political and social impact of the Civil Rights movement on local, state and national levels.

Students will evaluate the importance of social changes to different groups in North Carolina.

Students will explore examples of and opportunities for active citizenship, past and present, at the local and state levels.


Teacher Planning
Time required for lesson:
Three 50-minute class periods


Materials/Resources

  • Primary Sources from www.historyteacher.net
  • Printed transcripts of oral histories from Documenting the American South website
  • Copy of Eyes on the Prize
  • Gandhi's rules of Civil Disobedience
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's writings on Non-Violence

Technology Resources

  • Computer with Internet connection (if streaming oral history excerpts directly from this site.)
  • Speakers
  • TV/DVD player
  • LCD projector

Activities

1) Teacher led discussion, helping students to define the term 'Civil Disobedience.'

Civil disobedience is the active refusal to obey certain laws, demands and commands of a government, or of an occupying power, without resorting to physical violence

2) Teacher led discussion, helping students to define the term 'Nonviolent Resistance'

Nonviolent resistance (or nonviolent action) is the practice of achieving socio-political goals through symbolic protests, civil disobedience, economic or political noncooperation, and other methods, without using violence.

3) Students work in collaborative groups to create working definitions of both and brainstorm ways in which "Civil Disobedience" and "Nonviolent resistance" are similar/different.

Students review Ghandi's rules of "Civil Disobedience" along with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's writings on the use of "Non-Violence"

Class discusses ways in which this can be beneficial/problematic for resistance movements

4) D. Film Excerpt Viewing: Eyes on the Prize and Transcript:

Focusing on excerpts of student sit-ins in Greensboro, NC.

Class or group discussion identifies ways in which the students used "nonviolent resistance" to bring attention to segregation in Greensboro, NC and ways in which they were successful/not successful in achieving their goals.

What hardships did the students endure during their sit-ins?

In what ways did the Greensboro student sit-ins contribute to the Civil Rights Movement spreading to other areas of the United States?

How did notions of non-violence and civil disobedience manifest in the student sit-ins

5) Student will then listen to Oral History excerpts as well as watching video clips from the Documenting the American South web and compare and contrast the experiences of the interviewees with those of the students in Greensboro, NC

Oral History Excerpt #1: John Lewis: "It was only about a hundred miles between Birmingham to Montgomery. And when we arrived about five or ten miles out, all signs of protection, plane, the state troopers. I have gone this way many, many times before riding the bus between Troy to Montgomery, Montgomery to Birmingham, Birmingham to Nashville to school for four years. When you got near the station you had this eerie feeling. It must have been about ten or ten-thirty on a Saturday and you didn't see anything and all at once when the bus pulled up and we started out of the bus an angry mob of about a thousand people came toward the bus. And they first started reporters and then they started attacking us. Several of us were beaten and just left lying in the street. And there was one guy, that must have been the chief officer for the Alabama State Troopers. This guy, I can't think of his name but Newsweek or Time did a big story on him, and he literally saved the day. He kept people from literally being killed. He fired a gun to disperse the mob." - John Lewis, former chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Georgia congressman

Oral History excerpt #2
Interviewer: Could you see what the gains might have been?
John Lewis: I think we had some idea. A great many of us thought that maybe just being able to go into a lunch counter and get a hamburger and a Coke, that would end certain forms of segregation, racial discrimination -- being able to take a seat on a bus or in a waiting room. There were certain barriers physical barriers that we wanted to remove. I think that a great many of us thought that in a short period of time, maybe within a matter of a few months, certain things would happen in terms of removing some of the barriers, some of the legal barriers. But I don't think for the most part that in 1960 we see some of the changes that we see now.

Interviewer: There were more political barriers than social barriers?
John Lewis: There were physical barriers, removing some of the social barriers. And I guess in 1960 we had no idea that in many parts of the South people would be registering and voting and being elected to office. -John Lewis, former chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Georgia congressman

Kennedy Video: Civil Rights Address 1963

6) After watching Eyes on the Prize, Kennedy's Civil Rights Speech, and listening to Oral histories from Documenting the American South website:

Teacher and students will work together to create a flow chart of events and people that were critical in helping influence Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Group discussion: Based on What you have learned and the oral histories you have listened to explain how the Civil Rights Act of 1964 impacted southern Americans.

7) Student generated essay on topic given and decided upon by teacher.

Possible examples:

  • Define and explain ways in which the student sit-ins in Greensboro, NC were successful in sparking the broader Civil Rights movement.
  • Explain how nonviolent resistance contributed to the passing of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. Use specific examples discussed in class.

Assessment

Teachers should assess students using a discussion or participation rubric made available prior to beginning the lesson, as well as their comparative essay.


North Carolina Curriculum Alignment

United States History Grade 8

Competency Goal 7 - The Learner will analyze changes in North Carolina during the postwar period to the 1970's

  • Objective 7.02 - Evaluate the importance of social changes to different groups in North Carolina.

Competency Goal 8 - The learner will evaluate the impact of demographic, economic, technological, social, and political developments in North Carolina since the 1970's.

  • Objective 8.03 - 8.03 Describe the impact of state and national issues on the political climate of North Carolina.

Competency Goal 9 - The learner will explore examples of and opportunities for active citizenship, past and present, at the local and state levels.

  • Objective 9.01 Describe contemporary political, economic, and social issues at the state and local levels and evaluate their impact on the community.
  • Objective 9.02 Identify past and present state and local leaders from diverse cultural backgrounds and assess their influence in affecting change.
  • Objective 9.03 Describe opportunities for and benefits of civic participation.