This toolkit offers educators three different options for teaching about the integration of Central High School by the Little Rock Nine and about the topic of segregation more broadly.
- How does segregation affect people?
- What mechanisms have been used to preserve segregation systems and institutions in the United States?
Part I: Show Film Clips
Dr. Terrence Roberts was one of the nine students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. After watching and listening to Roberts reflect on his experiences, ask students to respond—verbally or in writing—to the following questions. (Film clips courtesy of Facing History and Ourselves.)
- Why do you think Roberts felt vulnerable venturing outside of black neighborhoods, facilities and communities during his childhood in Little Rock? What laws and attitudes at the time may have contributed to this fear?
- What do you think Roberts means when he says, "Life under those circumstances [segregation] makes no sense"?
- Roberts says we are taught “lines of separation” as we grow up. What are some examples of those “lines of separation”?
- What major event in 1954 changed the way we interpret the Constitution? Why didn’t this event bring an end to school segregation?
- According to Roberts, why do we need to understand the history of school segregation all these years after it was made illegal by the Supreme Court?
- Roberts says Little Rock was instructive to him. What did his experience as one of the Little Rock Nine help him learn? What did listening to this excerpt from his speech help you learn about the Little Rock Nine? About school segregation?
Part II: Teach Choices in Little Rock
Choices in Little Rock is a free teaching unit from Facing History and Ourselves about the movement to integrate Central High School.
The lessons in this unit ask students to think critically about the choices residents of Little Rock made back in 1957 and the choices we make today as members of a democratic society. In the words of Facing History, “Although those choices may not seem important at the time, little by little, they define an individual, delineate a community, and ultimately distinguish a nation. Those choices build on the work of earlier generations and leave legacies for those to come.” (Free registration required.)
Part III: Teach a Perspectives Text
Browse these suggested texts on the topic of segregation. If you find one you like, consider building a Learning Plan that explores essential questions related to segregation and how it affects people. Learning Plans reflect backward design, combining the Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards, Common Core-aligned literacy strategies and student performance tasks with texts of your choosing. The result is a comprehensive literacy-based plan that is both rigorous and relevant.
To build a learning plan based on a text, view the text and select the red "Teach This" button.