Civil Disobedience

Civil disobedience is an active refusal to obey specific demands or laws of a government. Throughout the history of the United States, many Americans have employed civil disobedience as a form of political activism in order to change society. The Bill of Rights Institute provides lessons and historical examples of the origins and instances of this movement in American history.

  • Resource Type: Books, Editorial Cartoons, ESL Appropriate, ESL Materials, Essays, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Photography, Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

César Chávez Collection

March 31 is César Chávez Day. Use these K-12 lesson plans and resources to celebrate the life and legacy of this civil rights and labor activist. Topics span his early days as a migrant farmworker, his co-founding of the United Farm Workers union, his use of nonviolent protests to fight for the rights of laborers and includes other change-makers like Dolores Huerta, Lucas Benitez and Librada Paz. You’ll also find related lessons on social justice, on Martin Luther King, Jr., and Hispanic heritage month celebrations.

  • Resource Type: Audio, Essays, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Sisters of Suffrage: British and American Women Fight for the Vote

The dominant narrative of the entire women’s suffrage movement begins and ends with the United States and Britain. Hundreds of thousands of women petitioned, canvassed, lobbied, demonstrated, engaged in mass civil disobedience, went to jail, and engaged in hunger strikes in a seventy-five-year ongoing political and social struggle for the right to vote.

  • Resource Type: Essays, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 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

Building Constituencies

This lesson introduces students to the importance of building a constituency to support or oppose public policies using the case study of the Montgomery Bus Boycott as an example. First, students read primary documents from the boycott and discuss how the documents show how leaders tried to build support. Then in small groups, students brainstorm how they can get support for their Civic Action Project issue. Registration is required.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Law-Abidingness: Reading Guide for “A Jury of Her Peers”

Does our obligation to uphold the law admit of exceptions? Debate the elementary civic virtue of law-abidingness and the appropriateness of civil disobedience as editors Amy A. Kass, Leon R. Kass, and Diana Schaub discuss Susan Glaspell’s story with Christopher DeMuth. Includes discussion guide and model conversation. Common Core-aligned.

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