In this lesson, students learn how The Birth of a Nation reflected and influenced racial attitudes, and they analyze and evaluate the efforts of the NAACP to prohibit showing of the film.
James Patterson provides an overview of the movement, reminding us that the roots lay in the early twentieth century with the founding of the NAACP and the National Urban League and that efforts to secure equality continued through the 1940s and the postwar years. Patterson shows the variety of arenas in which the modern civil rights movement operated, from the courtrooms and legislative halls of the nation to the streets of Birmingham and the highways of Alabama and Mississippi.
After the Civil War, the 14th Amendment was passed to grant citizenship to former slaves and protect them from civil rights violations in their home states. Public schools were relatively rare throughout the United States, but were often segregated by race where they existed. The same Congress that passed the 14th Amendment created racially segregated schools for the District of Columbia. In the 20th century, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) began a litigation campaign designed to bring an end to state mandated segregation, calling attention to the shabby accommodations provided for blacks, as well as arguing the damaging psychological effects that segregation had on black school children. One case was brought on behalf of Linda Brown, a third-grader from Topeka, Kan.
In this lesson, students will read about a Kansas child involved in a famous United States Supreme Court case. They will think critically to form opinions about equality, segregation, and integration, and will distinguish between fact and opinion.