Have we really learned how to break down barriers?
This lesson plan is excerpted from the 2007-2008 Mix It Up Planner. Learn more about national Mix It Up at Lunch Day.
To set the stage for the activity, teachers should read or story-tell this background information with students, allowing them to ask questions:
In May 1954, the U. S. Supreme Court issued its famous Brown v. Board of Education decision that was to end segregation in schools. A civil rights organization called the NAACP attempted to register black students in previously all-white schools throughout the South. One of those schools was Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.
In September 1957, nine black students showed up at Central High's doors and were met by white protestors. The governor even sent the Arkansas National Guard to keep the black children out. The sight of a line of soldiers blocking the teenagers from going to school made national headlines. After President Dwight Eisenhower intervened, the governor removed the soldiers.
The nine students still had to face hundreds of protestors, mostly parents of white students who didn't want the black students to attend the school. Federal troops were sent in to protect the black teenagers, but they still encountered physical and verbal violence throughout the year.
The next year, the governor closed all the public schools rather than allow integration to continue. The Supreme Court ultimately made Arkansas reopen Little Rock's schools to all children.