LESSON

Contemporary Movements

The civil rights movement of the 1950s and ‘60s, during which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to prominence as a spokesperson for black people seeking equality, has been the catalyst for many contemporary civil rights movements (e.g., the Chicano movement, labor movement, environmental movement, women’s movement, LGBT civil rights movement, immigrant workers rights). This lesson invites students to see that they are part of a continuum in the long struggle for equal rights for all people.
Grade Level

Objectives

At the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • review and summarize questions about the struggle for equality and apply them to other civil rights struggles.
  • devise a timeline regarding other civil rights struggles.
Essential Questions
  • What do contemporary civil rights movements have in common?
  • What local movements, similar in nature to these national movements, exist in your own school or community?
  • Enduring Understandings
    • Struggles for civil rights are continuing in the 21st century — including rights concerning women, sexual preference, and the treatment of African Americans. The common thread between each movement is the fight for equality by a group of people who are being treated unfairly.
    • Civil rights movements exist, not only at the national level, but also at the school and community levels.
Materials
  • Content material on various civil rights movements (African-American movement, Chicano movement, labor movement, environmental movement, women’s movement, LGBT civil rights movement, immigrant workers rights)
  • One Copy of the timeline handout for each student

Vocabulary

contemporary [ kuhn-tem-puh-rer-ee ] (adjective) at the present time

ally [ al-ahy ] (noun) a person or group that supports a common cause

civil rights [ siv-uhl rahyts ] (noun) the rights of a citizen to liberty and equality

liberate [ lib-uh-reyt ] (verb) to free from a situation that limits liberty

oppressor [ uh-pres-uhr ] (noun) a person or group of people who treat others unfairly and prevent them from having opportunities

 

Suggested Procedure

1. Instruct students to research and place a number of contemporary civil rights movements on the timeline. The timeline will help them make connections and understand the complexity of interrelationships among movements. It is also a good send-home assignment because students can ask their guardians what they remember about the various movements.

2. Have students answer the following focus questions for each movement researched:

  • What does this movement all have in common with other movements?
  • Who struggled for equality and rights?
  • Who had power over those fighting for equality?
  • How did those in power exert that power?
  • Who were the allies of those in this struggle?
  • How did the participants of this movement liberate both themselves and their oppressors?

3. Tell students to research individually or in groups:

  • What other movements are there?
  • What other movement do you think there should be?
  • If you were to start a movement today, what would your cause be?
  • Who would you hope would aid you in your cause?
  • Who do you feel has power over you?
  • How will you liberate yourself and your oppressors?
  • What local movements, similar in nature to these national movements, exist in your own school or community?
  • How might you create one or participate in a local movement?

Alignment to Common Core State Standards/ College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards CCSS R.1, R.10, W.7, W.9

 

Extension Activity

Do Something

If students have the opportunity to rally behind a local movement that they support in their school or community, ask them to brainstorm ways they can participate and invite them to get involved.

Students can also do research projects on various organizations and outcomes that have arisen from various movements. Among them are:

  • Equal Employment Opportunity Council
  • Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)
  • National Farm Workers Association (NFWA)
  • National Organization for Women (NOW)
  • Sierra Club
  • Stonewall
  • Title IX
  • United Farm Workers (UFW)
  • Violence Against Women Act
  • Equal Justice Initiative (EJI)