The Rendell Center has developed monthly themes designed to build basic civic knowledge, promote civic engagement, and provide practice in democratic deliberation. Each month offers an experiential learning opportunity for K-12 students to examine and discuss a new civics topic, with questions and activities designed to help them better understand the concept.
Competing Voices of the Civil Rights Movement
When most people think of the Civil Rights Movement in America, they think of Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering his “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 and receiving the Nobel Peace Prize the following year. But “the Movement” achieved its greatest results — the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act — due to the competing strategies and agendas of diverse individuals. Even black Americans, the primary beneficiaries of this landmark legislation, did not agree on the tactics that should be used to secure the equal protection of their rights. This unit presents the views of several important black leaders who shaped the debate over how to achieve freedom and equality in a nation that had long denied a portion of the American citizenry the full protection of their rights.
Martin Luther King Jr. and the Power of Words
In this lesson students have the opportunity to discuss how words have the power to bring about political, social, or economic change in society. By reviewing quotations from various leaders, activists, and others, students can begin to understand how ideas have an impact on the hearts and minds of people and can be a catalyst for change. Finally, students will reflect on the words of Martin Luther King Jr. and determine their relevance to the political, social, and economic issues of today.
1968: The Poor People’s Campaign
1968 was a tumultuous period in the United States. The Vietnam War, political assassinations and civil rights issues were among some of the challenges the country faced as solutions were sought. At this time, Martin Luther King Jr. organized the Poor People’s Campaign to shift the focus of the civil rights movement to economic issues; however, Reverend King was assassinated weeks before the campaign got underway in Washington, D.C. In this lesson, students will learn about the circumstances that gave rise to this campaign and how it is relevant today.
Civil Rights Movement: Sit-Ins
By the 1960s, the Civil Rights movement was growing in the U.S. Leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. employed non-violent methods of protesting. On February 1, 1960 students in Greenville, NC engaged in a new peaceful tactic, a sit-in. This launched a wave of sit-ins across the country. In this lesson, students will hear about the circumstances that unfolded that day and hits impact on the country.
Arguing Arkansas: Analyzing the Impact of Eisenhower’s Little Rock Speech
This lesson, developed in collaboration with the National Archives, has students explore a number of primary sources, all connected to the events at Little Rock High School. It asks students to consider how the events at Little Rock may or may not have been impacted by the words and leadership of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Civil Rights in Pennsylvania
Throughout the twentieth century, blacks in Pennsylvania employed numerous strategies to achieve the civil rights they deserved. Their efforts for to receive their rights began with a strategy of New Deal liberalism in the 1940s and 50s headed by prominent black leaders. When attempts to rewrite the laws using the established political system failed, black leaders encouraged more direct action, like boycotts and sit-ins. The movement quickly took on a black nationalist approach. Philadelphia became the perfect place for several Black Power conferences and home of the short-lived, though active, Black Panther Party.
Letter From Birmingham City Jail (Excerpts), Martin Luther King, Jr.
MLK was leading a demonstration in Birmingham, Alabama where it was forbidden to make demonstrations. This was the first time King had decided to break the law for he believed that the law was unjust. While incarcerated he wrote a letter in reply to a letter published about accusations made on him in the Birmingham Post Herald.
I Have a Dream: Celebrating the Vision of Martin Luther King, Jr.
EDSITEment feature highlighting resources, activities, and lesson plans to help teachers, students, parents, and caregivers understand the impact Dr. King had — and continues to have — upon our country and the global efforts towards peace and civil rights.
On the third Monday of January, Americans celebrate the life and achievement of one of our most respected citizens — Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was a leading force in the drive for civil rights in the United States, and he showed through words and actions that non-violent, persistent activism can achieve tremendous results by appealing to the moral conscience of Americans.
Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Power of Nonviolence
This lesson introduces students to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philosophy of nonviolence and the teachings of Mohandas K. Gandhi that influenced King’s views. After considering the political impact of this philosophy, students explore its relevance to personal life. (Duration: 2 class periods)
To examine the philosophy of nonviolence developed by Martin Luther King, Jr.
To consider how this philosophy translated into practice during the Civil Rights Movement.
To explore the relationship between King’s teachings on nonviolence and those of Mohandas K. Gandhi.
To reflect on the relevance of nonviolence to one’s personal conduct in everyday life.