“Sharing the Movement” and other resources for teaching the Civil Rights Movement

Today is the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. A time when hundreds of thousands of people stood up for justice and a better life. We have so far to go as a nation to fight the persistent racism and oppression that still plagues not only our schools but all of society. It could be argued that we have moved backward in our journey toward racial equality, given the recent decision by the Supreme Court to dismantle major provisions of the Voting Rights Act and our country’s growing economic disparities. That’s why this anniversary represents less a celebration than a renewed commitment to fight for a more just and equitable future.

marchers at march on washington
Photo from The Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs/the Labor History Archives at Wayne State University, www.reuther.wayne.edu.

Here we feature articles that will help you share history’s struggles with your students, and hopefully help them discover their own agency in changing the world.

These articles are available free to all friends of Rethinking Schools:

Warriors Don’t Cry: Acting for Justice
By Linda Christensen
Using the struggles of the Little Rock Nine to teach students how to navigate an unjust world—and how to change it.

More Than a Statistic
By Dorothy Franklin
Reflections on the black side of school discipline—the intimate consequences of assumptions based on race.

Sharing the Movement
By Nancy Murray
As part of Project HIP-HOP, Boston-area students embark on a 5,000-mile journey to meet with Civil Rights Movement veterans.

A School Year Like No Other: Eyes on the Prize
By Bill Bigelow
An imaginative writing lesson based on the struggles of one of the Little Rock Nine, featured in the landmark PBS series.

Also, check out Claiming and Teaching the 1963 March on Washington at the Zinn Education Project website. Bill Fletcher Jr. reminds us that the march was about freedom and jobs, a fact overlooked by the mainstream media and our textbooks.

These additional articles are available to our friends who subscribe to our magazine.

Illustration: Bec Young

Our Grandparents’ Civil Rights Era: Family letters bring history to life.
By Willow McCormick
Second graders ask grandparents to write about their experiences during the Civil Rights Movement. The letters bring surprising wisdom—and some thought-provoking issues—to the classroom.

Trolling for Stories: Lessons from Our Lives
By Linda Christensen
How to stick with students until they find stories they feel passionate about writing.

“My Family’s Not from Africa—We Come from North Carolina!”
Teaching Slavery in Context
By Waahida Mbatha
An African American middle school teacher changes her African American students’ understanding of Africa and their own history.

Schools and the New Jim Crow • An Interview with Michelle Alexander
By Jody Sokolower
The author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness applies her thought-provoking analysis to children, schools, and priorities for education activism.