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TEACHING KING AND THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT WITH PRIMARY SOURCE DOCUMENTS

Subject: History-Social Science, English-Language Arts
Grade Level: 9-12


INTRODUCTION

This two-week unit is designed to meet both history and English standards, giving emphasis to the use of primary source documents to encourage active learning and the development of critical thinking skills. The goal of this unit is to have students construct their own meaning and understanding of history and apply this understanding to present social justice issues. While the topic of this unit is Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement, students should be encouraged to make connections to universal themes, such as social justice, social transformation and reconciliation.

TOPIC

Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement

OBJECTIVES

By the end of this unit, students will:

Be able to distinguish between primary and secondary sources

Be able to place primary documents into an historical, social and political context

Have a solid understanding of King's philosophy, as well as the critical events, figures and organizations of the civil rights movement

Improve their analytical and critical thinking skills

Write a persuasive essay supported by primary source documents.


ESSENTIAL QUESTION

What can the study of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement teach us about addressing current social justice issues?

SUB QUESTIONS

Is nonviolent direct-action still a viable means of achieving social change?

What does King mean when he says "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere?"

What kind of connections can be made between King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and his "Beyond Vietnam" speech and documents such as the Bill of Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

Many people criticized King for his public opposition to the war in Vietnam, saying that he was hurting the cause of civil rights. King responded to these criticisms by stating, "Such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment, or my calling." What was King's "commitment and calling," and why did he feel it necessary to speak out against the War?

According to King, what was the relationship between the war in Vietnam and poverty in the U.S.?

In Beyond Vietnam King states, "I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values." What is the revolution of values that King refers to? How is it applicable today?


ASSESSMENT

Journal
Group presentations
Unit quiz
Essay