High School Lesson Plans

These lesson plans have been developed specifically for high school students.

Lesson Plans by SC Educators
(recently added are listed first)

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Apollo Theatre of Harlem, NY Creating Social Change

After reading a graphic novel about the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, NY, students will be analyzing primary sources to look at the influence of the theatre in civil rights across its existence. Students will just problem solving by bringing their thinking to the modern day and the theatres impact now. 

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It’s Your Showtime at the Apollo

Students will be analyzing the history of the Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY, specifically looking through the lens of important artists that performed there. Students will create their own act that shows the importance and appreciation of the theater. 

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Black Women’s Clubs Across Time

Students will be reading from Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box on the growth of black women’s suffrage clubs and women’s clubs overall. From this, students will be taking oral histories of current members of their local women’s clubs and analyzing the impact across time. 

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Re-Telling the Narrative of Rosa Parks

Jeanne Theoharis writes in her book, A More Beautiful and Terrible History, about expanding the story of civil rights in America. Students will be looking at primary sources to assess and re-write the typical narrative of Rosa Parks to dive deeper into their understanding of the Modern Civil Rights Movement. 

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The Geography of the Civil Rights Movement: The North and Redlining

Students will be expanding their understanding of the Modern Civil Rights Movement by looking at how the physical location impacted events and effects of the movement. They will look at the differences in the North, focusing on redlining. 

Beyond the Bus

In this lesson, students will be introduced to the greater struggles behind the Civil Rights Movement. As an extension of the 1960s content unit, students will be able to learn about “all forms of oppression,” as described by civil rights leader Rosa Parks. Although this lesson will not be an in-depth investigation into systemic oppression, it will be an introduction to a greater understanding of the struggle from the 1960s and its relevance in today’s world. Students will be able to apply this new understanding of justice and oppression in a collaborative exercise where they will be able to brainstorm ways to seek justice in their school and community.

The Battle for the Ballot

In this lesson, students will study the leadership, ideas, and contributions of three pivotal female leaders in the fight at the ballot box: Fannie Lou Hamer, Shirley Chisholm, and Stacey Abrams. Students will be able to review current and past legislation around voting rights and access, and draw connections between each of these leaders in the continued battle for the ballot.

The Decision: School Integration from NY to SC

In this highly collaborative lesson, students will be able to explore lesser known histories of the early Civil Rights Movement and the national resistance to integration of public schools. Through two separate case studies, students will work with peers to investigate two incidents in NY and SC that show the ways in which communities protested for and resisted against the changing landscape in public education. This lesson is highly collaborative and discussion-based, and may not be appropriate for all classroom communities. If students struggle with communication and peer-to-peer work, this can be modified to be independently completed or with less reliance on collaboration.

What About Women?

Throughout American history citizens have organized and assembled to resist policies and social practices that they disagree with: from temperance and alcohol consumption, to expanded suffrage for various groups, to the abolition of slavery. In the mainstream historical narrative, men are at the forefront of the early Abolitionist Movement. This leaves many wondering, What about women? In this lesson, students will focus on the contributions of women in the early Abolitionist Movement from the period 1815 – 1865. Students will examine the impact of pro-slavery legislation in the sectional North and South, summarize the reactions of abolitionist activists from the period, and analyze the effectiveness of contributions in the movement.

Apollo Through the Ages

In this lesson, students will examine the continuities and changes within the African American experience over significant turning points in US History. Students will be able to contextualize the experiences of this marginalized group by utilizing a variety of primary and secondary sources, including the graphic novel Showtime at the Apollo. This lesson is effective within a Roaring 20s unit, in which they will be learning about the experiences of the 1920s and early 1930s and the creation of an American mainstream culture.

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Stories of Enslaved People and “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker

The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to primary sources of enslaved people, show students firsthand perspectives of the hardships endured through slavery, and make thematic connections with the short story “Everyday Use.” This lesson will show students how first-hand experiences of enslavement have shaped the course of African American family heritage and American heritage altogether.

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Continuity and Change from the Double V Campaign

This lesson has students examining primary sources in order to investigate the connections between WWII and the modern civil rights movement. It starts by reviewing the discrimination and violence facing African Americans in the US during the early 20th century as well as the anti-semetism of the Nazis and America’s involvement in WWII.  This is done through an image analysis routine. It then has students define the Double V campaign and examine its impact through the case of Isaac Woodard by reading several newspaper articles and other primary sources. Students will synthesize their understanding through short, text-based writing assignments.

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What We Want, What We Believe

This lesson introduces students to the Black Panther Party. Students will use primary sources to analyze and evaluate the Black Panther Party’s survival programs and overall mission, describe ways the Black Panther Party was infiltrated by the FBI and portrayed by the media, and connect the Black Panther Party’s platform to other social justice movements

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1964 vs. 2020...Have we overcome?

In this lesson plan, students will compare Freedom Summer of 1964 to the Black Lives Matter Movement of 2020.

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Gathering Together for Progress, Unity and Equality

Students will examine Primary and Secondary Source documents on African American gathering places, such as churches, restaurants, hotels, barber and beauty shops,  and college campuses, that were used to organize efforts to promote racial equality and to fight bigotry.

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Reconstruction 1863 - 1877

Students will work together in groups to create a poster arguing the success or failure of Reconstruction using a variety of primary sources after participating in a gallery-walk like protocol to analyze the primary source set, specifically analyzing the republican standpoint, a democratic standpoint, and an African American standpoints. These three standpoints will usher students into a greater understanding of the organization of the Reconstruction period that carries over into the modern Civil Rights Movement.

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Exploring Organizations in the Modern Civil Rights Movement: A Document Based Question (DBQ)

This lesson should be used in a larger unit on the modern Civil Rights Movement, as this movement focuses on organizations working to solve issues. This should be prefaced with an analysis of the problems and oppression that these groups work to change. It should also be followed by an analysis of how this relates to the modern day, looking at how much of the rights being fought for have actually been achieved, i.e. voting rights and Georgia. Once looking at modern day, students should then dive into how this movement went global, i.e. South Africa and Nelson Mandela.

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"Black Codes to Black Lives Matter”: Institutionalized Racism and its effect on Black America

The purpose of this lesson is to give students an opportunity to discuss the Civil Rights Movement in America from Reconstruction to present day. Students will study various articles and images that show and discuss the ways African American have suffered disenfranchisement by the suppression of their civil rights. Through these resources and the extension activity, students will have the opportunity to analyze images and engage with thought provoking text to make sense of institutional racism and frame their own thinking on the subject in today’s world.

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Fences by August Wilson: Using LOC primary sources to help students understand the meaning of the play.

Students will use primary sources to learn about the color barrier in baseball.  Students will also examine primary documents from the Great Migration to gain historical perspective and a better understanding of the issues presented in Fences by August Wilson.

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Teaching Supreme Court Cases on Civil Rights with Primary Sources from the Library of Congress

This website offers teachers primary sources from the Library of Congress, instructional activity, and additional sources to show students how to trace the change in the opinion of the Supreme Court on the rights of African Americans during the 19th and 20th centuries.  

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Civil Rights in Charleston

The focus of this website is to put faces on the struggles in Charleston, SC.  Using primary sources from the Library of Congress site, this site attempts to educate through the use of video clips, photographs, and other primary and secondary sources, about the events and people that played a vital role in Charleston’s modern Civil Rights struggles and triumphs.  This topic aligns with South Carolina US history standard 8.1 for the high schools.

The Media & Civil Rights in America

This website examines the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Selma to Montgomery Marches, and the 1963 Birmingham Demonstrations, to see how the media was instrumental in drawing attention to the plight of African-Americans during this time.

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Where is the Love?

This lesson uses primary sources  to understand the historical context of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” and Nelson Mandela’s “Glory and Hope” speeches. 

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Civil Discourse: Respecting Diverse Beliefs and Opinions in a Partisan Society

Students will read “A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry and will participate in a variety of activities using Primary Sources to discuss race, sex, religion, gender, and socio-economic bias and prejudice.

Library of Congress Civil Rights Lesson Plans

After Reconstruction: Problems of African Americans in the South

In this lesson, students use the collection’s Timeline of African American History, 1852-1925 to identify problems and issues facing African Americans immediately after Reconstruction.

Segregation: From Jim Crow to Linda Brown

Students identify problems and issues facing African-Americans immediately after Reconstruction using text based sources.

Baseball, Race Relations and Jackie Robinson

Students explore racism in the United States, both in and out of sports. The lesson focuses primarily on race relations in the 1950s.

Baseball, Race and Ethnicity: Rounding the Bases

Students use primary sources focused on baseball to explore the American experience regarding race and ethnicity.

To Kill a Mockingbird: A Historical Perspective

Students gain a sense of the living history that surrounds the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Students may better grasp how historical events and human forces have shaped relationships between black and white, and rich and poor cultures of our country.

African American Identity in the Gilded Age

Examine the tension experienced by African-Americans as they struggled to establish a vibrant and meaningful identity based on the promises of liberty and equality in the midst of a society that was ambivalent towards them and sought to impose an inferior definition upon them.

Note:  If you find errors or broken links, please reach out to Jenna Spiering at spiering@mailbox.sc.edu, Karen Gavigan at kgavigan@mailbox.sc.edu, or Daniella Cook at daniella.cook@sc.edu.