On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law. Originally proposed by President Kennedy in 1963, this landmark piece of legislation made discrimination based on race, religion, sex or national origin illegal. Additionally, the Civil Rights Act ended the practice of unequal voter requirements based on race or sex and ended racial segregation in schools. The Share My Lesson team has curated a collection of free lesson plans, activities, and classroom materials for educators to use in teaching students about the Civil Rights Act.
On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law. This landmark piece of legislation made discrimination based on race illegal. This law protected the right to vote for all citizens; forced states to obey the Constitution; and reinforced the 15th Amendment. The Share My Lesson team has curated a collection of free lesson plans, activities, and classroom materials that educators can use to teach students about the Voting Rights Act.
The lesson begins with an illustration of the “separate but equal” doctrine – two water fountains are depicted, one labeled “colored” and the other labeled “white”. Students will discuss how this doctrine was used to justify separate treatment based on race, and that such a policy would not be legal today.
Students will explore their ideas about fairness in the American criminal justice system and the role of race and ethnicity by analyzing the depiction of the Amadou Diallo shooting in Bruce Springsteen’s song “American Skin (41 Shots).” They will apply newly acquired knowledge about the protections and limits of the Fourth and 14th Amendment and law enforcement challenges to a reevaluation of their ideas about fair and equal treatment by the police.
On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his address on his vision for the future of America regarding race equality. The speech was to emphasize the importance of this movement. 100 years before, Lincoln gave his Emancipation speech and 200 years earlier the Declaration of Independence was signed. Now it is time to end oppression in America for good.
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.