The Press and the Civil Rights Movement Video Lesson

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.

Grades 7-12
Rights and Responsibilities
Closed Captions

Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Power of Nonviolence

This lesson introduces students to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philosophy of nonviolence and the teachings of Mohandas K. Gandhi that influenced King’s views. After considering the political impact of this philosophy, students explore its relevance to personal life. (Duration: 2 class periods)

Learning Objectives:
To examine the philosophy of nonviolence developed by Martin Luther King, Jr.
To consider how this philosophy translated into practice during the Civil Rights Movement.
To explore the relationship between King’s teachings on nonviolence and those of Mohandas K. Gandhi.
To reflect on the relevance of nonviolence to one’s personal conduct in everyday life.

Rights in Conflict: The Case of the Professional Tap Dancer

In this lesson, the leader presents students with a situation in which one person’s rights conflict with another’s. The students will identify the problem, suggest solutions, and discuss the potential outcomes of their proposed solutions. The leader encourages students to think about which solutions are most fair, and can use the situation to illustrate the importance of having and adhering to clear rules ahead of time.

The Rule of Law in Your Life

Rule of law is a principle under which all persons, institutions, and entities are accountable to laws that are: publicly promulgated, equally enforced, independently adjudicated, and consistent with international human rights principles. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has created this resource to help your students understand rule of law with an overview of the topic; opening discussion questions; relevant landmark case summaries; and discussion questions to check for understanding. In a Court Shorts video, nine federal judges explain how fair and consistent adherence to the law protects our rights and well-being in everyday situations.

Grades 8, 9-12
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans

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.

Residential Property Signs

This lesson uses City of Ladue v. Gilleo as the basis for discussion of First Amendment rights. Students will argue for both sides of the case, and a group of students will serve as the city council; they will questions both sides and ultimately decide whether the ordinance should be upheld or not. The resource person might then lead a discussion on local laws regarding signs, posters, and handbills.

Civic Art Project: Notes on the Constitution

Students create art works based on an examination of the language of the Constitution and the personal connections they make. These art works will incorporate words, illustrations, and mixed media images.
This lesson can be adapted for different grade levels. High school students can use an abridged version of the U.S. Constitution. Elementary and middle school students can use the Preamble, or introduction, to the Constitution.

The Reconstruction Amendments: Official Documents as Social History

The Fourteenth Amendment was the most important constitutional change in the nation’s history since the Bill of Rights. Its heart was the first section, which declared all persons born or naturalized in the United States (except Indians) to be both national and state citizens, and which prohibited the states from abridging their “privileges and immunities,” depriving any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, or denying them “equal protection of the laws.” Free registration for students and teachers required to access resource.