Teaching Civil Rights History with Primary Sources

The TPS-USC project is part of an effort to eliminate bigotry by helping K-12 students in South Carolina learn about the contributions of African Americans throughout history. The project will focus on primary sources on civil rights available through the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress collaborates with a consortium of educational partners. TPS Consortium members extend the reach and applicability of the TPS program by creating curriculum, delivering professional development to pre-and in-service teachers, and contributing to investigations of primary sources in K-12 instruction.

What was our inspiration for this project?

Listen to these brief comments by Charleston Mayor Joe Riley from USC’s commencement ceremony.

On the evening of June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof, a 21-year-old white man, entered the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and sat with church members in a Bible study group. One hour after arriving, Roof opened fire on the group, killing nine. The nation was left stunned and grieving.

Six months later, in December 2015, Joe Riley, the mayor of Charleston at the time of the shooting, delivered the commencement speech at the winter graduation ceremony at the University of South Carolina (USC). Riley asked, “What possessed this evil man to come in with a gun to kill people because they were black?” He went on to state, “Ignorance fuels bigotry. Ignorance about the history of African Americans is a huge deficit in our country.” …. “I believe that if Dylan Roof, when he was in the 5th grade, had been taught all of American history – if he understood the sacrifices and the harshness and the courage and the indomitable spirit of African Americans, then I believe he wouldn’t have been able to have bigotry in his heart. A knowledge of the contributions of African Americans would have prevented that.”

Use our civil rights lesson plans for your grade level.