Voting Rights Act of 1965: Lesson Plans & Resources

On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law. This landmark piece of legislation made discrimination based on race illegal. This law protected the right to vote for all citizens; forced states to obey the Constitution; and reinforced the 15th Amendment. The Share My Lesson team has curated a collection of free lesson plans, activities, and classroom materials that educators can use to teach students about the Voting Rights Act.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: History
  • Grades: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Extending Suffrage to Women

In this activity, students will analyze documents pertaining to the women’s suffrage movement as it intensified following passage of the 15th Amendment, which guaranteed the right to vote for African American males. Documents were chosen to call attention to the struggle’s length, the movement’s techniques, and the variety of arguments for and against giving women the vote.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

The Fugitive Slave Law of 1850

In 1850, Southerners succeeded in getting a new federal law passed to return fugitive slaves who had escaped to the North. The U.S. government enforced this law, but some Northern states passed laws to resist it. Sometimes, free blacks and sympathetic whites joined to rescue captured fugitive slaves.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: History
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Shaw v. Reno (1993)

Did the North Carolina residents’ claim that the 1990 redistricting plan discriminated on the basis of race raise a valid constitutional issue under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause? North Carolina drew legislative districts to create a majority black district.

  • Resource Type: Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

American Reformers (CKHG Unit)

This unit (the second part of Early Presidents and Social Reformers) focuses on the efforts to improve American society in the early 1800s. Across 6 lessons, students learn about the temperance movement, free public education, the abolitionists’ crusade to abolish slavery, and the early women’s rights movement. The unit explores early reformers’ legacy in ongoing modern-day struggles for equality and civil rights.

  • Resource Type: Assessments, Books, Descriptive Text, Lesson Plans, Media, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources, Timelines
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Voting Rights (Lesson Plan)

Explore the evolution of voting rights in the United States through an interactive PowerPoint presentation highlighting landmark changes. Following the presentation and class discussion, students apply the new knowledge of voting legislation to individual scenarios through a class activity. This lesson is one in a series called “Civil Rights.”

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8

Constitution of the United States with Index and the Declaration of Independence, Pocket Edition

This is the 25th pocket edition of the complete text of two core documents of American democracy, the Constitution of the United States (with amendments) and the Declaration of Independence. The resolution calling for the ratification of Constitutional Convention is also included. A topical index to the Constitution is provided. (House Document 112-29, 2012)

  • Resource Type: Books, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Voting and Elections in Early America

Google Cultural Institute exhibit by Constitutional Rights Foundation & Barat Education Foundation’s Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Program. Long before the pilgrims landed, voting and elections were taking place in America. For example, the Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, a powerful alliance of Native American tribes who inhabited territory west of the Colonies, had established a system of representative government sometime around 1500 that lasted until the Revolutionary War. Women played a prominent role in choosing its political leaders.

  • Resource Type: Interactives, Media, Photography, Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Reconstructing a Nation

This unit provides a backdrop for the social, political, and economic changes that accompanied the Reconstruction amendments. A 30-minute video explains the events leading to Reconstruction, and introduces three individuals who played different roles — an African-American U.S. senator, a college-educated former plantation mistress, and a former Union Army officer who went to work for the Union Pacific Railroad. All dealt with upheaval and opportunity during this tumultuous period.

  • Resource Type: Closed Captions, Editorial Cartoons, Essays, Media, Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources), Special Needs/Language Focus, Video
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Citizenship and the U.S. Constitution

In this lesson students will examine the concept of “citizen” from a definitional perspective of what a citizen is and from the perspective of how citizenship is conferred in the United States. Students will discuss the rights and responsibilities of citizens and non-citizens and review the changing history of citizenship from colonial times to the present.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12