The 1964 Civil Rights Act: Lesson Plans and Resources

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.

Grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6-12
Rights and Responsibilities
Interactives

Civil Rights

While the Reconstruction Amendments were an important step in ensuring equal rights for all people, regardless of race, racial injustices throughout the United States continued into the late 19th and 20th centuries, leading to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, and the passages of Supreme Court decisions and legislation, including Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Visit the National Constitution Center’s learning module to learn more about the freedom struggle and civil rights.

Predicting the 2020 Presidential Election

In this lesson, students will view video clips highlighting competitive states in the 2020 presidential race. Using information from these video clips and polling data, students will make predictions for each swing state and use an interactive electoral college map to determine which candidate will win the 270 electoral votes needed to become president. Students will be able to identify pathways for both candidates to win the Electoral College and evaluate the likelihood of each scenario. 

Grades 7-12
Executive Branch/Presidency
Interactives

Voting Rights Act of 1965: Lesson Plans & Resources

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.

Different Treatment for Different Folks

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.

“American Skin” Song Analysis

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.

Shaw v. Reno (1993)

Did the North Carolina residents’ claim that the 1990 redistricting plan discriminated on the basis of race raise a valid constitutional issue under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause? North Carolina drew legislative districts to create a majority black district.

Grades 7-12
Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
Research (Digests of Primary Sources)

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. Free registration for students and teachers required to access resource.