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.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

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.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Brown v. Board of Education

May 17, 2014 marks the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. This landmark Supreme Court decision declared that laws establishing separate public schools for black and white children were unconstitutional. 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.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8, 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: ESL Appropriate, Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources), Special Needs/Language Focus
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

A Conversation on Freedom of Speech

Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Anthony M. Kennedy and Sandra Day O’Connor and students discuss the First Amendment’s right to free speech, and in particular students’ free speech rights in the Supreme Court cases Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District and Morse v. Frederick. In the Tinker case, students wore black armbands to school in silent protest of the Vietnam War. In the Morse case, a student held up a sign that said “Bong HITS 4 Jesus” at a parade.

  • Resource Type: Closed Captions, Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Natural Rights, Citizenship Rights, State Rights, and Black Rights: Another Look at Lincoln and Race

In the real world, the ability of free blacks to enjoy their natural rights and exercise the privileges and immunities of citizenship depended on the states where they actually lived. When those states imposed a raft of legal discriminations on free blacks they cheapened the meaning of freedom and discounted the value of citizenship. I suspect this bothered Lincoln, but it wasn’t his issue. It would take other men and women, and another century of struggle, before “states rights” was abolished.

  • Resource Type: Essays, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Virginia v. Black (2003)

Does a Virginia law that criminalizes the burning of a cross on public or private property violate the First Amendment? This case summary shows how the Supreme Court answered this question in 2003.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12