Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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5. Civil Rights: Demanding Equality, Using the Videos
Topic Overview Using the Video Readings Critical Thinking Activity Web-Based Resources

Classroom Applications Pos-Viewing Activity and Discussion Watch the Video and Discuss Pre-Viewing Activity and Discussion



Using the Video Unit 5

Pre-Viewing Activity and Discussion (30 minutes)

Before viewing the video, discuss the following questions:

  • What did DuBois mean when he wrote about the "double consciousness"?

  • Should the Fourteenth Amendment be read to guarantee equal opportunity or equal outcomes?

  • Can effective equal protection rights be guaranteed to individuals or must these guarantees be based on group membership?

  • How has the entrance of large numbers of women in the workforce changed our understanding of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Watch the Video (30 minutes) and Discuss (30 minutes) [Top]

The video includes three segments:

1. Ending School Segregation: The Case of Farmville, Virginia

No aspect of segregation was more harmful than the separation of black and white children in the public schools, especially in the South. This story is about how black students in 1951 staged a strike in Farmville, Virginia, to protest school segregation. How that strike played a major role in ending school segregation is not widely known. Like many towns in the South, Farmville maintained separate school systems for black and white children. For the black students, it was immediately clear that their school facilities were inferior to those of whites. The story of Farmville is a story of victory, but one long delayed, even long after the Supreme Court's ruling.

Discussion Questions

  • Until the Brown v. Board of Education decision, the relevant legal standard was "separate but equal." What does Farmville tell you about the enforcement of even that standard? What would have happened if that standard had been strictly enforced?

  • Farmville is a classic example of de jure discrimination, but most discrimination is de facto. How do we address de facto discrimination?

  • At the time of the Brown decision, racial discrimination was overt in almost all areas of life. Why do you think that the NAACP selected discrimination in education as its prime target?

2. Title IX and Girl's Sports

At America's birth, the Constitution's framers granted women almost no civil rights. In fact, it took until 1920 for women to win the right to vote, and until the 1970s to gain overall legal equality. The modern women's movement adopted several lessons from the Civil Rights Movement. For example, to show they were being discriminated against women had to prove they were treated unfavorably simply because they were women. The story of one fight over equality in youth sports illustrates this ongoing struggle.

Discussion Questions

  • Is the scheduling of athletic seasons by the state an example of discrimination?

  • Does it matter that the different season (different from the boys') was combined with unequal facilities?

  • Should it matter that most people think that different seasons for the same or comparable sports is acceptable? Does it matter if most girls find it acceptable?

3. Fighting for the Rights of Disabled Americans

Fighting discrimination often takes years of mass organization, protest, political lobbying, and legal challenges to win new laws and the power to enforce them. The 1973 Rehabilitation Act was considered an early victory for supporters of rights for the disabled. It included a provision stipulating that federally funded programs and facilities must be accessible to disabled individuals. The broader Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 expanded the protections first articulated in 1973. But the fight for equality often continues beyond the passage of laws recognizing the rights of those who are experiencing discrimination. No one knows this better than those who seek the end of discrimination against people with disabilities.

Discussion Questions

  • What steps are necessary to eliminate discrimination against those with disabilities?

  • What disabilities should be covered by ADA?

  • Is discrimination against those with disabilities comparable to discrimination against racial minorities and women?



Post-Viewing Activity and Discussion (30 minutes) [Top]

Try the Critical Thinking activity for Unit 5. This is a good activity to use with your students, too.

1. Americans Have Come a Long Way, But There's Still Work To Be Done (20 minutes)

Discuss what remains to be done in the struggle for equal rights for all citizens. Are there groups of citizens who still don't enjoy their full rights? Who are they? Where might new claims for guarantees of equality come from in the future? For instance, should the Fourteenth Amendment be read to prohibit discrimination against the poor?

2. What Is To Be Done? (10 minutes)

What efforts must society make to redress discrimination? Discuss the options and costs of redressing past practices of discrimination.



Homework [Top]

Read the following Readings from Unit 6 to prepare for next week's session.

  • Introduction-Legislatures: Laying Down the Law

  • Tocqueville, Democracy in America: "Legislative Powers of the Federal Government"

  • Locke, Legislatures

  • Federalist Papers: "Federalist No. 26"

  • Beveridge, "Remarks Before the Senate Concerning the U.S. Occupation of the Philippines"

Read next week's Topic Overview.


Classroom Applications [Top]

You may want to have your students do the post-viewing activities: Americans Have Come a Long Way, But There's Still Work To Be Done and What Is To Be Done? They are provided for you as blackline masters in the Appendix of the print guide.



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