Learn about Black history in the United States before and after the Civil War; the Civil Rights Movement; the history of Africa; African American art; and African American trailblazers.
The Supreme Court has the power to interpret the Constitution. Its rulings on cases determine the meaning of laws and acts of Congress and the president. Knowing the key decisions of the Supreme Court and the precedents they set is vital in understanding the meaning of laws, how our country has changed over time, and the direction the country is currently headed. In this lesson students will examine the case of Roe v. Wade.
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.
When the stories of We the People become cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, and when those cases result in the opinions of the Court, history turns. The ways we think about and live under the Constitution are reflected in the Court’s interpretations in both their historical contexts and their legacies. Some cases — and the Court’s opinions in them — so profoundly alter our constitutional understandings that they can only rightly be called Landmark Cases, markers of where we have traveled as a nation. In this way, the Landmark Cases show us what we have tried, where we have been, and where we are — leaving We the People and future sessions of the Supreme Court to determine how we move forward toward a more perfect union.
Article III establishes the judicial branch of government, which is responsible for interpreting the laws. At the highest level, the judicial branch is led by the U.S. Supreme Court, which today consists of nine justices. In the federal system, the lower courts consist of the courts of appeals and the district courts. Learn more about judicial independence and judicial review in the National Constitution Center’s learning module.
African American History Month evolved from the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass in the second week of February. Historian and author Dr. Carter G. Woodson framed the concept that became the first Negro History Week in February 1926. It developed into a monthlong commemoration of the struggles and triumphs of the African American community. On this page, learn the stories of Autherine Lucy Foster, the first African American student to attempt to integrate the University of Alabama; Frank M. Johnson, Jr., the federal judge who ruled in the Rosa Parks case; and Linda Brown, the 9-year-old who became the face of children caught in the crossfire of the fight for social change. The Pathways to the Bench video series features profiles of African American federal judges who offer perspectives on their experiences during the Civil Rights era.
This DocsTeach page includes a variety of primary sources and teaching activities exploring the ways Americans, including African Americans and others, have fought for, attained, and protected their rights. Many documents at the National Archives illustrate how individuals and groups asserted their rights as Americans. Use this site to find teaching activities to explore the topics such as slavery, racism, citizenship, women’s independence, immigration, and more.
This lesson looks at Bush v. Gore, the U.S. Supreme Court case that decided the 2000 election. First, students read about and discuss the Supreme Court case of Bush v. Gore. Then in small groups, students role play Supreme Court justices and apply Bush v. Gore to hypothetical election cases.
Distance learning activities become civics for civic engagement when federal judges bring the rule of law, separation of powers, judicial independence, and jury service into students’ daily life. Student voice is incorporated into every activity. Teachers and students can explore the pillars of literacy: rule of law, separation of powers, and judicial independence. With the guidance of federal judges and attorney volunteers in virtual court hearings, students learn and practice civil discourse skills as the foundation of effective dispute resolution in the law and in life.
This activity presents students with a 1937 letter written by newspaper publisher Frank Gannett opposing President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s plan to “reorganize the judiciary” (also known as his “court-packing” plan). Students will read and analyze this letter to understand Gannett’s perspective on this controversial issue.