Civil Disobedience During the Civil Rights Movement Grade 10

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1 Ohio Standards Connection: Citizenship Rights and Responsibilities Benchmark A Analyze ways people achieve governmental change, including political action, social protest and revolution. Indicator 2 Explain how civil disobedience differs from other forms of dissent and evaluate its application and consequences including: a. Women s suffrage movement of the late 1800s; b. Civil rights movement of the 1960s; c. Student protests during the Vietnam War. Lesson Summary: The purpose of this lesson is to teach students to evaluate the role and consequences of civil disobedience compared to other forms of protest in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Students will use Henry David Thoreau s essay, Civil Disobedience, to develop their understanding of this concept. Students will be analyzing photographs and drawing conclusions about what happened when the photographs were taken. A short research assignment will acquaint students with participants in the civil rights movement and their use of protest tactics including civil disobedience. Estimated Duration: Three hours and 45 minutes Commentary: Thoreau s essay is a great example of connecting this benchmark throughout U. S. history. (Comments from a lesson reviewer) Pre-Assessment: Have students individually respond to the following tasks on their own papers. 1. List two methods people use to protest a law or governmental policy. 2. Give an example of a major protest against a law or policy that occurred in the 1960s. 3. Define civil disobedience and give one example. Assist students with the last task by having them look at what the word civil means and what the term disobedience means. Scoring Guidelines: Collect papers and check for the following: 1. Which students could identify two appropriate or typical methods people use to protest laws and governmental policies? (e.g., signing petitions, participating in protest marches, joining sit-in demonstrations, filing motions with courts, etc.) 2. Which students were familiar with major protests of the 1960s? (e.g., civil rights marches, Vietnam War protests) 1

2 3. Which students accurately defined civil disobedience and gave an appropriate example? (i.e., knowingly and deliberately violating a law that is perceived to be unjust and willingly accepting the consequences for such action, e.g., draft card burnings) Use the pre-assessment results to decide if there is some background information that needs to be reviewed with the entire class, if some terms need to be included on a vocabulary list, or if some students would benefit from differentiated instruction. Post-Assessment: Have students work individually to complete the following short essay assignment: Examine the role civil disobedience played in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Define civil disobedience and explain how the use of civil disobedience differed from other forms of protest. Draw a conclusion as to whether the consequences borne by those who engaged in civil disobedience as part of the civil rights movement were worth the achievements gained by the protests. Justify your conclusion. Scoring Guidelines: See sample response and scoring rubric in Attachment B. Instructional Procedures: Day One 1. Have students read Thoreau s essay, Civil Disobedience, prior to beginning lesson instruction. 2. Provide a quick review of the pre-assessment. Provide some sample answers and focus on the definition for civil disobedience. Write the definition on the chalkboard and highlight key words and phrases (e.g., knowingly and deliberately violating a law that is perceived to be unjust and willingly accepting the consequences for such action ). 3. Using whole-class discussion, pose each of the following questions. Allow students adequate time to work in pairs and create responses after each question is given. Solicit student responses before proceeding to the next question in the series. Be ready to engage students in dialogue if their responses indicate any misunderstandings or areas needing clarification. a. What major problem did Thoreau cite with government? (It tends to be inexpedient [unsuited for achieving a particular end under a given circumstance] in carrying out the will of the people.) b. What fault does Thoreau find in particular with democratic government? (Majority rule does not necessarily result in just decisions.) c. What specific issues was the United States confronting that prompted Thoreau s essay and his comments on the inexpediency of government? (The Mexican War and slavery the United States government was not responding to popular opinion to end the war and the institution of slavery.) d. How does Thoreau propose that citizens address unjust laws? (They should withdraw their support from the government.) e. What form of protest did he practice? (He refused to pay a tax.) 2

3 f. What consequences of his actions was Thoreau willing to accept? (Imprisonment.) g. Thoreau s essay is entitled Civil Disobedience. Does his essay capture the meaning of civil disobedience? (Yes.) Have students refer back to the definition used when scoring the pre-assessment and written on the chalkboard. h. Even though he broke the law, how did his actions differ from the actions of people who commit crimes? (He broke the law to uphold a moral purpose as opposed to achieving some personal benefit.) i. What other action could he have taken? (He could have petitioned the government, written letters to his congressman, organized a protest march, etc. Accept other viable responses.) 4. Assign students to read sections of their textbook pertaining to the civil rights movement in the United States during the 1960s. Day Two 5. Show students photographs illustrating various forms of protest during the civil rights movement, such as: sit-ins, boycotts, protest marches and/or freedom rides. While viewing each photograph, ask students to associate each photograph with episodes from the 1960s based on their reading of the homework assignment. Confirm correct associations. 6. After viewing all of the pictures, ask students, Based on your reading about the events portrayed in these photographs and based on your understanding of civil disobedience from the discussion in the previous class, which photographs illustrate examples of civil disobedience? Discuss each student suggestion. Make sure to have students apply the criteria highlighted in the definition of civil disobedience during the previous day s instruction. 7. Organize the class for the research task. Divide the class into groups of two to three students. Distribute Attachment A to the students and review the directions. Have each group select a person to research for the task. 8. Give students time to begin research. Day Three 9. Provide additional time to do research. Day Four 10. Have groups present their reports, focusing on protest activities, citing examples of civil disobedience (if any) and concluding if the protest goals were achieved. 11. Clarify each group s conclusion about civil disobedience or other forms of protest. Emphasize the criteria in the definition of civil disobedience while clarifying the conclusions. Differentiated Instructional Support: Instruction is differentiated according to learner needs, to help all learners either meet the intent of the specified indicator(s) or, if the indicator is already met, to advance beyond the specified indicator(s). 3

4 Groups may be set up to include different levels of learners. Students may work independently, in pairs or in heterogeneous groups to read Thoreau s essay, Civil Disobedience. Students may complete graphic organizers that capture information during research on civil disobedience and other forms of protest. Students working beyond the indicator may further expand and complete in-depth research to evaluate the impact of civil disobedience on current issues and compare that to the impact of other forms of dissent. A video clip on civil disobedience may be shown for visual learners. Extensions: The lesson may be extended to examine current issues in civil rights and to compare these issues with previous issues. The lesson may be extended to identify present-day instances of civil disobedience and to examine the influence of civil disobedience on the resolution of current issues. Provide students with copies of the 1963 Letter from Birmingham Jail, by Martin Luther King, Jr., as a discussion starter about an episode in the 1960s civil rights movement and for a comparison of views on civil disobedience between King and Thoreau. Homework Options and Home Connections: Have students may ask parents or grandparents what they recall about the civil rights protests of the 1960s and report these back to the class for discussion. Interdisciplinary Connections: English Language Arts Writing Applications Benchmark E: Write a persuasive piece that states a clear position, includes relevant information and offers compelling evidence in the form of facts and details. Indicator 5: Write persuasive compositions that: a. support arguments with detailed evidence; b. exclude irrelevant information; and c. cite sources of information. Materials and Resources: The inclusion of a specific resource in any lesson formulated by the Ohio Department of Education should not be interpreted as an endorsement of that particular resource, or any of its contents, by the Ohio Department of Education. The Ohio Department of Education does not endorse any particular resource. The Web addresses listed are for a given site s main page, therefore, it may be necessary to search within that site to find the specific information required for a given lesson. Please note that information published on the Internet changes over time, therefore the links provided may no longer contain the specific information related to a given lesson. Teachers are advised to preview all sites before using them with students. 4

5 For the teacher: For the student: Photographs of protests from the 1960s civil rights movement. Copies of Thoreau s Civil Disobedience, reference materials, writing materials. Vocabulary: civil disobedience segregation boycott dissent sit-in civil rights protest Technology Connections: If available, a computer lab may be used for students to conduct their research and to produce the group report. Research Connections: Marzano, R. et al. Classroom Instruction that Works: Research-based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement, Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Generating and testing hypotheses engages students in one of the most powerful and analytic of cognitive operations. It deepens students knowledge and understanding. Any of the following structured tasks can guide students through this process. Systems analysis; Problem solving; Historical investigation; Invention; Experimental inquiry; Decision making. General Tips: Thoreau s Civil Disobedience is a long essay that will be difficult for some students to read. Rather than assigning the entire essay, prepare a handout that includes relevant sections of the essay for the questions posed during the lesson. These excerpts would include the paragraphs beginning with the following words: a. I heartily accept the motto,... b. After all, the practical reason why... [through... resign his conscience to the legislator? ] c. How does it become a man... d. Unjust laws exist; shall we... 5

6 e. I do not hesitate to say,... f. When I converse with the freest... g. I have never declined paying the... Attachments: Attachment A, Group Research Guide Attachment B, Post-Assessment Scoring Guide 6

7 Attachment A Group Research Guide Civil Rights/Civil Disobedience Chose one person from the list below and prepare a report to present to the class which describes his/her connection with the civil rights movement during the 1960s in the United States. Indicate whether the person took part in any protests or was involved in acts of civil disobedience. Describe one such incident and explain how it did or did not represent civil disobedience. Tell if the goals of the particular protest were achieved. Martin Luther King, Jr. James Meredith John Lewis Ann Moody Fannie Lou Hamer Medgar Evans Malcolm X Stokely Carmichael Thurgood Marshall Shirley Chisholm Septima Clark Ella Baker Fred Shuttlesworth Joseph Lowery James Farmer 7

8 Sample Response: Attachment B Post-Assessment Scoring Guide Civil disobedience played a major role in the civil rights movement during the 1960s in the United States. As a knowing and deliberate violation of a law that is perceived to be unjust, combined with a willingness to accept the consequences for such an action, civil disobedience is unlike other forms of protest. Marches, speeches and petition drives are forms of protest that are protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. People engaging in those forms of protest are exercising their rights. These protests can be organized for many reasons, not just because there is a perceived injustice. There is no right of civil disobedience. People engaging in civil disobedience must violate a law with the intention of righting an injustice and with the expectation that they will submit to whatever consequences exist for violating the law (fines, imprisonment, etc.). The civil rights protesters of the 1960s who engaged in civil disobedience accomplished the ends they sought. As a result of their efforts, civil rights legislation was enacted extending protections to African-Americans at that time and for years to come. The protesters convinced the country of the injustice of segregation and it is no longer an issue minorities have to face. The achievements of the civil rights movement made the sufferings of those who engaged in civil disobedience worthwhile. 4-point Rubric: 4 The student response reflects all lettered criteria below: a) Accurately defines civil disobedience ; b) Accurately explains how civil disobedience differs from other forms of protest; c) Thoroughly and d) Appropriately justifies a conclusion as to the worthwhileness of civil disobedience in the civil rights movement. 3 The student response reflects three of the lettered criteria above. 2 The student response reflects two of the lettered criteria above. 1 The student response reflects only one of the lettered criteria above. 0 The student response does not meet any of the above criteria. 8

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