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.

Grades 9-12
Rights and Responsibilities
Primary Sources

The Southern “Black Codes” of 1865-1866

Describes the development of Black Codes following Civil War and details sections of the South Carolina code on Civil Rights, labor contracts, vagrancy, apprenticeship, courts and punishment, and other restrictions. In small groups, students evaluate one of six sections of the South Carolina code through the lens of the 14th Amendment.

Brown v. Board of Education

On May 17, 1954 the Brown v. Board of Education decision was made. This landmark Supreme Court decision declared that laws establishing separate public schools for black and white children were unconstitutional. The Brown v. Board of Education ruling overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896, which allowed state-sponsored segregation in public schools. To support teachers as they commemorate this important anniversary in their classes, the Share My Lesson team has selected a variety of free lesson plans, educational resources and classroom materials about equity, particularly in schools.

Grades 5, 6-12
Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
Lesson Plans

American Slavery Lesson Plans: Teaching Hard History

Teaching American Slavery & Emancipation.

If you are lesson planning for the school year, or getting ready to celebrate Juneteenth — the June 19 holiday recognizing the abolition of slavery — this Share My Lesson collection has what you need to teach preK-12 students the history of American slavery. This preK-12 lesson and activity curated collection is in response to a Southern Poverty Law Center report, “Teaching Hard History: American Slavery,” that shows that schools are failing to teach American Slavery. This collection of resources features some of our partner and users’ best material to ensure schools and teachers have the support they need to teach about the history of American slavery.

The Meaning of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Are we at last one nation, with liberty and justice for all? In this ebook, we reflect on the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement, and assess their efforts to overcome racial discrimination and to promote racial equality and integration. Each selection includes a brief introduction by the editors with guiding questions for discussion. Includes essays, short stories, and speeches by King, Ralph Ellison, W. E. B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, and Malcolm X.

Pathways to the Bench: African American History Month

Video profiles of seven African American federal judges, who overcame obstacles on their paths to the bench, are featured on the federal courts’ website. In their inspirational first-person narratives, they recount the challenges they faced growing up and offer uplifting insights. The four-minute videos are part of the federal courts’ Pathways to the Bench series.

Breaking Barriers: Grades 3-5

This lesson is designed to be used in conjunction with the National Constitution Center’s Breaking Barriers show, which is available as part of themed museum packages for groups and the Traveling History & Civics Program for schools.

Together, they provide students with first-hand experience about how African-American individuals have broken barriers to racial integration in the United States, achieving equal rights and making lasting contributions to the country’s political, social and cultural development.