Martin Luther King Jr: History and Legacy

Martin Luther King Jr., arguably the 20th century’s most famous civil rights leader, was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. King’s last speech was a testament to his commitment to the labor movement, showing recognition that labor’s fight for economic justice and dignity were intertwined with the civil rights movement. Here are some teaching resources that will deepen your students’ understanding of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Primary Sources
  • Subject:
  • Grades: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 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

César Chávez Collection

On March 31, we celebrate César Chávez Day. Chávez, a civil rights and labor activist, co-founded the United Farm Workers Union and used nonviolent protests to fight for the rights of laborers. The Share My Lesson team has identified lesson plans and resources you can use in your classes to help teach your students about César Chávez.

  • 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

Identifying Community Issues

In this activity, students will investigate a contemporary civil rights issue to better understand the continuing legacy of the civil rights movement and the current impact of civil rights issues the movement did not address.

  • Resource Type: Audio, Closed Captions, Interactives, Lesson Plans, Media, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources, Special Needs/Language Focus, Timelines, Video
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

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

When National Security Trumps Individual Rights

On December 18, 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down one of its most controversial decisions when it upheld the government’s decision to intern all persons of Japanese ancestry (both alien and nonalien) on the grounds of national security. Over two-thirds of the Japanese in America were citizens and the internment took away their constitutional rights. In this lesson, students evaluate the consequences of past events and decisions related to the Supreme Court case Korematsu v. United States (1944). They consider the challenges involved when trying to balance civil liberties and national security during threatening times and reflect on the lessons learned about civil liberties from the justices in the Korematsu case.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Making a Change: The First Amendment and the Civil Rights Movement

Delve into hundreds of historical newspapers, videos, photographs and more to find out how the five freedoms empowered people fighting for change — and those fighting against it. Topics include: the history of the American civil rights movement, the relationship between the movement and the news media, the evolution and application of First Amendment freedoms, bias in the news, civic engagement and more.

  • Resource Type: Audio, Closed Captions, Interactives, Media, Primary Sources, Special Needs/Language Focus, Timelines, Video
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Dialogue on the Fourteenth Amendment

The American Bar Association Dialogue program provides lawyers, judges and teachers with the resources they need to engage students and community members in a discussion of fundamental American legal principles and civic traditions. This Dialogue on the Fourteenth Amendment is composed of three parts:
Part 1: Equal Protection and Civil Rights – Participants discuss the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment and consider how Congress, through federal legislation, has worked to help realize its constitutional promise.
Part 2: Incorporating the Bill of Rights examines the concept of incorporation. Using a case study of Gitlow v. New York, this section provides a guide to how courts have applied the Bill of Rights, selectively, to the states using the 14th Amendment.
Part 3: Ensuring Equality and Liberty explores how the 14th Amendment has been interpreted by courts to protect fundamental freedoms, including individuals’ right to marry.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Timelines
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12

African American Religious Leadership and the Civil Rights Movement

The modern Civil Rights Movement was the most important social protest movement of the twentieth century. People who were locked out of the formal political process due to racial barriers were able to mount numerous campaigns over three decades to eradicate racial injustice and in the process transform the nation. In its greatest accomplishment, the Civil Rights Movement successfully eliminated the American apartheid system popularly known as Jim Crow. Registration is required to view this resource.

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

The Press and the Civil Rights Movement

Civil rights leaders effectively used the First Amendment and the press to expose the injustices of racial segregation. Reporters who covered the civil rights struggle give up close and personal accounts. Learn more about the First Amendment’s power to bring about profound social change and the role and challenges a free press embraces when tackling controversial issues.

  • Resource Type: Closed Captions, Lesson Plans, Video
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12