A Long Road to Liberty

byAmanda Genther Sanders


This unit will focus on the struggles African Americans faced after the Civil War, during Reconstruction and the Progressive Era. The curriculum attempts to reveal the true challenges faced by African Americans, especially after emancipation and Reconstruction. Often in the primary grades, the focus is on a more simplistic series of events: slavery, emancipation, and the Civil Rights Movement. This focus diminishes the political struggles that are so vital to understanding historical complexity. The lessons and activities in this unit are for fourth grade students but could be adapted to any upper elementary grade.

I am a fourth year teacher at Bellevue Elementary School in Richmond, Virginia. Currently, I am teaching fourth graders Virginia Studies, Language Arts, Science and Mathematics. Our Social Studies focus has been on Virginia Studies because our students take the Virginia Studies Standards of Learning (SOL) test in fourth grade. The fourth grade Virginia Studies curriculum starts with the settlement of the Jamestown colony and travels through present-day Virginia. Bellevue Elementary School is a small model school with classes from Pre-K through Fifth grade. Bellevue houses a Head Start program and special needs classes for students ages 3-5 and grades K-2 and 3-5. There are approximately 324 students in our school and ninety-nine percent of the population is African-American. Eighty-three percent of Bellevue's students receive free or reduced lunch (www.richmond.k12.va.us accessed July 27, 2005). Most students live with a single parent, usually the mother, and have very difficult home lives. We are greatly affected by the No Child Left Behind Act, pulling in a great number of students each year.


In my three years of teaching experience at the 4th grade level, I have learned how interested my students are in the history of African Americans. When teaching about the "new world," my students are very eager to learn about how their ancestors' lives began in America as slaves. In a visit to Monticello this year, my students were intrigued, not by Thomas Jefferson, but by the slave quarters, and how the slaves lived and survived during this time of oppression in American history. In learning about Jim Crow Laws and Massive Resistance, they want to know how and why these things occurred after such hope was given to former slaves during Reconstruction.


Through teaching Virginia Studies, I have become intrigued by the events of the Civil War and how it led to the abolition of slavery. I teach my students about the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments and how these changes to the Constitution allowed African Americans to start their lives of freedom. They learn how African Americans of all ages went back to school through Reconstruction, gaining an education they had never received. I teach about African Americans voting and holding public office during Reconstruction and how this progress allowed achievements many had never dreamed of reaching. African Americans, during this period, experienced what it was like to be free. Despite all of this, history takes a turn in the years after Reconstruction in which Jim Crow laws, discrimination, and massive resistance to racial equality and justice take effect. The question I seek to answer for myself and for my students is how basic liberties were taken away from African Americans when these Amendments had been made to the Constitution. This is a large piece of history that many forget- a great shame when considering the progress made. Understanding how rights could be lost after they had been won may also enable us to protect against similar losses in the future.


There were several issues over which the North and South diverged in the 1860s. One of these was the issue of slavery. Because the economy in the southern states was agricultural, it remained heavily reliant on slave labor. The industrial North did not rely on slave labor and therefore did not find it necessary. Many will argue that slavery was not the real reason the war began; however, it was a part of the disagreement between the North and the South and as a result of this war, slaves were freed. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves in the rebel states, which brought new hope to the lives of African Americans. Then the 13th Amendment ended slavery across the nation in 1865.

Through the Reconstruction Period, from1865-1877, African Americans began to gain many freedoms. African Americans of all ages began to attend school to obtain an education (Horton 2001 182). This education was something African Americans felt would help them gain real equality. One black man in Augusta, Georgia stated, "I'm going to school now to try to learn something which I hope will enable me to be of some use to my race"(Horton 2001 183). With the assistance of the Freedmen's Bureau, African Americans were eventually able to vote (not across the nation until 1870), have legal marriages, and own land, to name but a few new rights (Horton 2001 183). This was a period of hope for former slaves. Their lives were changing and they were gaining liberties they never had. Black Colleges were also on the rise. By 1895, there were forty colleges where the student body was predominately black (Horton 2001 185). White southerners were in serious opposition. Laws such as "black codes" and later discriminatory measures were used to restrict African American advances. Through the early 1870s this resistance continued to outrage many in Congress.


During Reconstruction there were also changes made to the Constitution. These were the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. The 13th Amendment abolished slavery, the 14th Amendment stated that citizenship could not be denied to someone because of their race, and the 15th Amendment gave African American men the right to vote (Horton 2001 186). These amendments and accompanying enforcement laws enabled the Congress to continue having more control of the South and to allow African Americans to practice their liberties.


In the 1880s, the Supreme Court gave back to the states the responsibility to protect and defend black rights. Soon southern states began to refuse to "recognize black civil rights" (Horton 2001 197). As these civil rights continued to be denied to African Americans, a great number of southern states, including Virginia, began to create and enforce Jim Crow segregation laws along with poll taxes and literacy tests. These laws led to more extensive segregation and discrimination against African Americans. The question of how these laws were put into effect, even though amendments were made to the Constitution for equal protection, can be answered in part by looking at the idea of "separate but equal" (Sullivan 2001 96-7). In Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896, the question was raised whether the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment allowed for racial separation. Included was the idea that "although the Court recognized that the object of the 14th Amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the law," also "it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon race" (Sullivan 2001 97). "Separate but equal" was in fact not what it was said to be. It was part of a system of laws that not only separated blacks from whites but also effectively denied them voting rights, rights to serve on juries, and many economic opportunities. The Jim Crow System was never truly equal, but rather allowed for racial segregation and discrimination that continued for sixty years with effects that continue today.

The History of Jim Crow Segregation Laws

Jim Crow laws were laws of segregation that became widespread during the 1890s. These laws were name for a minstrel show character (a traveling entertainer) that was typically played by a white actor with black face paint. Before the Civil War, the Jim Crow idea was an image of black inferiority and it soon became a racial slur. The Jim Crow era began in the 1890s when southern states began to strengthen laws that separated races in public places and that did not allow black males the right to vote. In every state that was once part of the Confederacy, segregation was in place completely by 1910 (www.jimcrowhistory.org/history/creating2.htm, accessed July 27, 2005). During the time of Jim Crow, lynchings against blacks were very common. From 1889 to 1930, over 3,700 men and women were lynched in the United States- most of these men and women were Southern blacks (www.jimcrowhistory.org/creating2/htm).

Timeline of Events from the Civil War to the Progressive Era

The Civil War began in 1861 with shots being fired on Fort Sumter, located in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves in the rebel states. The war lasted until 1865, with the Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendering to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia. In 1865, the 13th Amendment was ratified which abolished slavery. The 14th Amendment, granting native-born blacks citizenship, was ratified in 1868. The 15th Amendment, allowing black men the right to vote, was ratified in 1870 (Bolden 2001 59). The length of time Reconstruction lasted is a much debated issue. Virginia Standards note the Reconstruction Period lasted from 1865-1877. In 1877, federal troops were taken out of the South permitting discrimination and laws of segregation to get worse (Bolden 2001 61). However, African Americans continued to have voting rights to the mid-1890s. Laws of segregation and discrimination against African Americans continued until the 1950s. Brown v. Board of Education, 1954, overturned Plessy v. Ferguson,1896, declaring that separate but equal has no place and separate educational facilities were unequal (Bolden 2001 61). This case led to the modern Civil Rights Movement, which won federal laws that greatly limited surviving segregation and official discriminatory practices in the 1960s.

What are Civil Rights and Civil Liberties?

Civil rights and civil liberties are often words whose meanings are used interchangeably. These ideas do have similar meanings and it is not incorrect to use them in place of one another. However, most people feel there is a difference between the two. Civil liberties are the freedoms and rights one has as a person and as an American citizen. These liberties are spelled out for us in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Civil liberties are guarantees of freedom the government cannot take away. An example of a civil liberty would be the right to have a jury of one's peers. Civil rights are used more often to talk about issues of basic rights given equally to groups of people. When talking about civil rights, it is correct to think of the Civil Rights Movement for African Americans or the Women's Movement. The civil rights of African Americans were not being given equally; therefore there was a movement by African Americans to win this equality.


My goal for this curriculum unit is to focus on the power of education and to drive home the idea that being educated about the rights and freedoms we have as citizens is vital to sustaining the civil rights for which our predecessors have fought. In accordance with Virginia Standards of Learning, students will focus on facts pertaining to Virginia during the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Progressive Era. This unit will investigate how, throughout history, African Americans have faced countless struggles to gain the civil liberties that they have today.

The Virginia Studies curriculum begins with the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Students will explore the journey of the colonists, their struggles in the new world, and the American Revolution. This is important background information for students before they begin this unit.

The unit will begin with a look at civil liberties and civil rights and what they are. With this knowledge, students will be able to look into how African Americans gained civil liberties as a result of the Civil War and through Reconstruction and then how these liberties and rights were taken away after Reconstruction. Students will read the historical fiction text Mississippi Bridge by Mildred D. Taylor, gaining insight on segregation, discrimination, and what life was like in Mississippi in the 1930s.

This unit coincides with several Virginia Standards of Learning. Virginia Studies (VS. 1 a-i) skills such as comparing and contrasting, making connections between past and present, and interpreting ideas and events from different historical perspectives will be used throughout the unit. The unit will cover the issues that divided the North and South and led to the war, including the economies of the North and South and the difference of opinion about whether new states created from the western territories would become slave or free (VS. 7a). Students will also learn about Virginia's role in the war (VS. 7b). Students will demonstrate knowledge of the reconstruction of Virginia following the Civil War by identifying the effects of Reconstruction on life in Virginia including how the Freedmen's Bureau assisted former slaves (VS. 8a). Finally we will identify the effects of segregation and "Jim Crow" on life in Virginia, including poll taxes and literacy tests (VS. 8b).


Throughout this unit, students will be working in their "teams." Teams are groups of four students, one high achieving level student, one middle-high, one middle low, and one low student. With these groupings, students are given the ability to be the teacher and the learner in their groups. Because ninety percent of my classroom time is spent completing tasks with small groups or partners, my activities are always geared to be hands-on and interactive. With these teams, students are encouraged seek assistance through partners' questions before asking the teacher. Students learn to work collaboratively and become more responsible with their learning.

This unit will provide many opportunities to explore literary works pertaining to the unit that will be provided in the classroom (listed in the student biography section). Students will be exposed to this literature during silent reading time. They will read independently, with partners, and I will contribute with several read-aloud stories. Students will keep a journal to record the books they have read or heard. In their journal, students will write the title and author of the book, three facts they learned, and their opinion of the story.

"Pairs compare" is completed with two students in a team. Each student completes the activity assigned independently, checks their work, and compares their work with their partner. This activity is meant for the student to work independently and have the opportunity to compare and check their work with someone else when it is finished. Students are not to assist their partners until their assignments are complete.

Literature groups will be used in reading Mississippi Bridge. These groups will be assigned using the same method as teams, a heterogeneous ability group. Each day, students will be assigned a different job in their group. Students will have one of the following jobs:

  • Recorder- This person will be the writer. If the assignment for literature groups is to answer questions, the recorder will write the answers the group formulated.
  • Director- The director of the group will make sure the group is staying on task when reading or completing an activity. If the group has a question that cannot be answered amongst them, the director will ask the teacher.
  • Timer- The timer will be aware of how much time the group has to complete their activity and will make sure the activity gets completed in that time.
  • Organizer- This person will get all the materials needed to complete the activity, make sure everyone has the materials needed, and puts the materials away at the end of the activity.

"Take a Stand" is a type of debate in which the whole classroom participates. In this activity, the whole room is divided into two sides. Students will be made aware of the two sides of the argument by the teacher and will decide their stand about the issue. In this activity, all students will be active participants in the debate. Every student must be ready to defend their side.

Sybil Liberty flyers have been created by the ACLU Department of Education to educate children about what liberties are and how they apply to children. Sybil is the character that explains liberties to students in the flyers. Each flyer gives an explanation of different freedoms that apply to children. All of the flyers are written from the child's point-of-view. One flyer will be given to each group to read and report to the class. Some portions of the flyers may not be appropriate for elementary aged children and will need to be omitted from the flyer. The flyers available are as follows:

  • Your Right to Privacy
  • Your Right to Equality in Education
  • Your Right to Fair Treatment
  • Your Right to Free Expression
  • Your Right to Religious Freedom
  • Your Right to Keep School Records Private

Classroom Activities

Week One

The introduction to this unit will explore civil rights and civil liberties. Students' knowledge of these words should be basic, understanding that these words are similar in meaning but are often used to talk about different situations. Students will learn that civil liberties are the guaranteed individual freedoms stated in the Constitution that the government can't take away. Civil rights are basic rights being given equally and we usually talk about issues of these rights being given to certain groups of people.

Lesson: Asking Sybil Liberty

Instructional Focus- Write the words civil, rights, and liberty on the board for students. Ask students to look at these three words and to write about what they think these words mean. After the students have had time to think about these words, ask them to put civil with the other two words. Have students write ideas about what they think these two words mean together (civil rights and civil liberties).

Practice- After students have been given the opportunity to explore the words civil, rights, and liberty, talk about their responses. As students give responses, guide them to the idea that civil liberties are our rights as citizens, written in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Give an example to students by using prior knowledge about the Bill of Rights by talking about the 1st Amendment. Students will discuss what they learned about the 1st Amendment. Make the connection that freedom of speech is a right we have as both persons and citizens. In their teams, have students brainstorm all the rights and freedoms that we have as persons and citizens.

Class Review- Students will share the rights they came up with. List these rights on chart paper to post in the classroom.

Application- Using the ACLU packets titled "Asking Sybil Liberty" students will explore rights they have as students. Each team will have a different packet that explains a certain right. I have chosen four different rights to talk about with my students: The Right to Equality in Education, The Right to Fair Treatment, The Right to Privacy, and The Right to Keep School Records Private. Students will read their packets in teams to learn about the right they have been given. Students will report on their right by presenting in front of the class. Their presentations may be oral or students may create an informative poster for the class to see.

Assessment- Students will present their ideas to the class with their teams. Once they have finished presenting, students in the audience will ask questions and teams will use what they have read in their packets to answer any questions.

Maintenance Moment- Go back to the beginning activity that students completed exploring what civil liberties and civil rights are. Ask students if they have anything to add about these words now that they have learned more about them. Discuss and wrap up this lesson with students having a good understanding of civil liberties and rights.

Week Two: Events Leading Up to and During the Civil War

Students will explore, in detail, the Civil War in Virginia. This will start out with exploration of the differences between the North and the South. Students will have some background on the economies of the North and South from previous units. With this background we will explore how different the North and South became. Through this examination, students will compare and contrast the differences and how these differences led to war.

Week Three: Reconstruction

Through the study of Reconstruction, students will learn how the abolition of slavery and the amendments to the Constitution brought about change in the lives of African Americans. The selection Tell All the Children Our Story: Memories and Mementos of Being Young and Black in America, 2001, by Tonya Bolden will be used. The book is broken into three different parts, highlighting the African American journey. Part II- "Longing for the Jubilee," will be used to learn about Reconstruction. Throughout this section, letters and stories of African American children are highlighted. These first-hand accounts of the trials and tribulations of African American children will guide students through this part of history.

Lesson: A Day in the Life of an African American Child during Reconstruction

Application- The teacher will read a section (pgs. 54-57, 59-60) of Tell All the Children Our Story: Memories and Mementos of Being Young and Black in America, by Tonya Bolden. In this section, students will learn about what freedpeople did after the Civil War ended.

Guided Practice- The teacher will pose the question to students: When the Civil War was over and slavery ended, how did African American children feel? The teacher will look for responses that some children "jumped for joy" while others were "bewildered" (Bolden 2001 54). What was the main focus of the freedpeople? Responses should be to find their family and get an education.

Class Review- The teacher will lead a class discussion about what life must have been like for former slaves. Students will be guided to think about what they would have done and how they would have felt about being free. The goal of this discussion will be for the teacher to remind students that this was not only a time of great joy for African Americans it was also a great change that they had to get used to.

Application- The teacher will read page 58 of Tell All the Children Our Story, which will also be shown on the overhead so students can read along as the teacher reads. This page is a letter from George Wells, an African American child from Athens, Alabama. George's letter was written in 1868 to a Sunday school class in the North. The letter talks about how George's life has changed since the war- he eats with a fork instead of on the floor with his fingers, he wears clothes with pockets in them. From the reading and the letter, students will have enough information to write about what a day in the life of an African American child during Reconstruction would be like. Students will be given a list of questions to prompt them to write.

Questions to give students for the "A Day in the Life" writing:

  • What was your reaction to the ending of the Civil War?
  • - Have you found your family? If so, how?
  • - Do you go to school?
  • - Do your parents attend school?
  • - What do you do if you are not in school?
  • - Do you have things you didn't have before- like more clothing, food, a better home?
  • - Is it a good feeling to be free?
  • - Do you feel safe or are you still worried about your safety?
  • - Are you thinking of moving to the North or West?

Assessment- Students will read their letters to a partner in their teams and vice versa. Students will then report to the class what their partner's day was like.

Maintenance Moment- To wrap up, review with students that life during Reconstruction was very exciting for African Americans yet very challenging at the same time.

Week Four: The Progressive Era

The Progressive Era arose out of the time period following Reconstruction (most histories put the Gilded Age between). During this time, Jim Crow segregation laws, poll taxes, and literacy tests were put into effect. African Americans lost the rights they had gained during Reconstruction and were segregated and discriminated against. During this time, the idea of separate but equal ruled African American lives. After students have been introduced to Jim Crow Laws, they will complete an activity using the website http://www.jimcrowhistory.org/geography/courtcases.htm . This site describes cases dealing with Jim Crow laws and the Supreme Court. By clicking on Virginia, three court cases are described which entail events that occurred in Virginia.

Lesson: Looking at What Occurred During Jim Crow

Instructional Focus- To explore in more detail the Jim Crow segregation laws and what occurred in our nation during that time, students will have the opportunity to use the website http://www.jimcrowhistory.org/geography/courtcases.htm to read about actual cases that occurred in Virginia. The teacher will introduce this website to students by demonstrating how to get to the website and to pull up information on Virginia. This can be done by displaying the computer screen on a classroom screen or through the television. Students will observe the teacher complete the steps and write down the steps they will take to get to the site.

Guided Practice- In pairs, students will follow the steps they have written down to find the website and discover the court cases in Virginia. With their partner, students will read the cases and discuss what each case was about. If extra time allows, students may explore other states and what court cases occurred in other states affected by Jim Crow. This would give students a good understanding that these laws did not just occur in Virginia and that there were other ways Jim Crow laws affected African Americans.

Class Review- The teacher will direct students to come back together to discuss what they discovered on the website. Students will discuss the court cases and talk about how the Jim Crow laws segregated African Americans and whites. The teacher will ask students for other examples of segregation. Students should respond with answers such as: separate drinking fountains, separate neighborhoods, and separate places of worship- to name a few. The teacher will review with students that these are all things that occurred because of the Jim Crow segregation laws.

Application- The teacher will direct students to choose one thing that students read on the website or learned from the class discussion that Jim Crow segregation laws did to African Americans. Using magazines, newspapers, and any other material that students may cut, students will find images that deal with the idea they chose. Students will cut and glue these images onto their construction paper to display. Students will write a caption for their picture which entails two things- what Jim Crow laws were and what their picture describes. For example, students might decide to choose that Jim Crow laws separated schools into white and black. Students may find a picture of a school building and label the school a black or white school. In the caption, students would say that Jim Crow laws were laws that separated blacks and whites. One example of this was white and black children attending separate schools.

Assessment- As students are creating their pictures, the teacher will discuss their idea and will ask the students questions about Jim Crow laws and how they affected the lives of African Americans.

Maintenance Moment- When students have completed their creations, they will briefly share what they have made with the class and read their caption. The teacher will display these pictures in the hallway so that students in the school can learn about Jim Crow segregation laws and what they were about.

Week Five: Students will read Mississippi Bridge, by Mildred D. Taylor.

Jeremy Simms, a white child from Mississippi, witnesses two African Americans board a bus- a grandmother visiting a sick relative and a black man named Josias who was traveling to a new job. As time draws near for the bus to leave, a white family arrives. The bus driver tells the two black passengers to get off the bus. Josias, Jeremy's friend, argues with the bus driver about having to give up his seat, but eventually gets off the bus. The bus leaves and ends up veering off a bridge. Josias, along with many other townspeople, attempt to rescue the passengers on the bus.

This historical fiction text gives students a chance to read first hand what it was like to be discriminated against and what it would feel like to not be able to protect your rights. . Though the setting is not in Virginia, my students will be able to see that discrimination occurred all over the nation. In this lesson, students will explore the decision Josias makes and what consequences he faced in making his decision.

Lesson: Should You Put up a Fight?

Instructional Focus- Students will read pages 32-47 in their books with their literature groups. Before students read, ask them to think about what happens to Josias as they read. When they finish, encourage students to discuss with their groups how that made them feel. Students will write their responses as a team. When students have finished, ask them to share the feelings they discussed as a group with the class. Write these words on the board.

Guided Practice- In a whole class discussion, ask students what they feel like they would have done if they were Josias. Would they have gotten off the bus? Would they have argued with the bus driver but still gotten off? Would they have refused to get off the bus? Through asking these questions, guide students to understand that there are positive and negative consequences to all of these answers. Create two charts (Figure 1) for students to use to write about the consequences of Josias' behavior. (http://teacherlink. ed. usu. edu/tlresources/units/byrnes-literature/delange. html)

Class Review- With the chart on an overhead, the teacher will fill in student responses for the positive and negative consequences of the decision.

Application- Students will debate this issue with their classmates. Review the two sides of the argument to students (getting off the bus and staying on the bus). Students will complete a debate called "Take a Stand." The room will be split in two sections. Guide students to discussing that one side of the room will be for those for arguing and staying on the bus and the other side will be for those who are against staying on the bus. Before allowing students to choose their side, remind them that they must have reasons why they chose the side they did. Students will be asked to argue their side and all students must actively participate in the debate. The teacher will prompt students to the debate question and have them choose their side. Begin the debate by appointing one person from each side to start discussion.

Assessment- Assess students' knowledge of decision making and their realization of consequences with their activity with their teams and the class debate.

Works Cited

Boldon, Tonya. (2001). Tell All the Children Out Story: Memories and Mementos of Being Young and Black in America. New York, New York. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. This book is a fabulous first-hand look at what life was like throughout African American history. This book displays feeling and allows the reader to get a true understanding of what life was like. It also contains abundant photographs of African American children.

Horton, J., Horton, L. (2001). Hard Road to Freedom the Story of African America. New Brunswick, Rutgers UP. A detailed book about African American history beginning with African and ending with looking into the millennium. This book gives a great overview of each time period and is easy to navigate through to find pertinent information.

Morgan v Commonwealth of Virginia, 328 U. S. 373 (1946). Irene Morgan boarded a bus in Glouster County, Virginia. When asked by the bus driver to move to the back, Morgan refused and was arrested. This case is important in particular because it occurred in Virginia and Morgan's decision to refuse to move to the back of the bus was the opposite of what Josias did in Mississippi Bridge.

Sullivan, H. (2001). Civil Rights and Liberties: Provocative Questions and Evolving Answers. New Jersey. Prentice Hall. An excellent book in seeking answers or explanations to many questions dealing with Civil Rights and Liberties.

DeLange, J. (1997). Opening Doors to Social Studies with Children's Literature. Retrieved July, 27, 2005 from the World Wide Web: http://teacherlink.ed.usu.edu/tlresources/units/byrnes-literature/delange.html This site gives several ideas for lessons to use with Mississippi Bridge. This site gives the idea for Josias' decision making on the bus and the consequences he would face.

The History of Jim Crow. Retrieved July 27, 2005 from the World Wide Web at http://www.jimcrowhistory.org/history/history.htm. This site gives excellent information on the history of Jim Crow. It provides historical reviews about how Jim Crow laws were created, how people survived, what is was like to exist during this time, escaping Jim Crow segregation laws and the transition from segregation to the Civil Rights Movement.

Richmond Public Schools. Retrieved August 8, 2005 from the World Wide Web at http://www.richmond.k12.va.us. The Richmond Public Schools website where you can find information about each school in the city and recent news and events.

Teacher Resources

Berger, R. (1989). The Fourteenth Amendment and the Bill of Rights. London. University of Oklahoma Press. This book takes an in-depth look at the 14th Amendment and the Bill of Rights through court cases and different views of their meaning.

Delany, E., Delany, S., Hearth, A., Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years. (1993). Dell. A story of two African American women's incredible journey through life. Daughters of a slave, both became amazingly successful career women. They lived to be over 100 years old.

Walter, V. (1993). War and Peace. Arizona. Oryx Press. A wealth of children's literature in all different times in history. Great for putting together a bibliography on a certain topic. The annotated bibliography is broken up into appropriate age levels.


www. pen.k12.va.us The Virginia Department of Education's website. Virginia Standards of Learning can be found on this site along with numerous links to teacher resources and kid-friendly sites.

www.aclu-or.org/students/kid.html Oregon's ACLU site contains teacher resources and provides learning tools for children. Provides a way for teachers to teach their students about Civil Liberties. The Asking Sybil Liberty flyers can be accessed from this site.

www.aclu.org The American Civil Liberties Union home page. This site is where you can buy copies of Asking Sybil Liberty.

www. jimcrowhistory.org/home.htm This site provides information on all aspects of the Jim Crow Laws. There are several sections on this site to choose from. The sections include: History, Teacher Resources, Geography, and American Literature.

http://www.jimcrowhistory.org/geography/courtcases.htm This is the exact site students will use to find their information on court cases in Virginia that occurred during the Jim Crow Era. This site can be used by children in any state, as all the states that Jim Crow affected are on this map and have information pertaining to cases specific to that state. If students are not from a Jim Crow state, they may choose a state in which they are interested.

Student Resources

Bridges, Ruby. Through My Eyes Ruby Bridges. (1999). New York, New York. Scholastic. The story of Ruby Bridges and her incredible experiences of attending an all white school. The photographs alone in this book are phenomenal.

Golenbock, Peter. (1990). Teammates. New York, New York. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Publishers. The story of Jackie Robinson and his extraordinary journey through his baseball career.

Littlesugar, Amy. (2001). Freedom School. New York, New York. Philomel Books. This book is exceptional for students to see the struggles African Americans faced after laws of segregation were made illegal. A teacher comes to teach children, young and old, at Freedom School. The house where she is staying is bricked and the school burns, yet a little girl shows strength and bravery to help the teacher stay around.

Hearth, Amy Hill. The Delany Sisters Reach High. (2003). Nashville, Tennessee. Abingdon Press. A children's biography of the Delany sisters- two African American sisters who were daughters of a slave. Their father encouraged them to reach high and both became firsts in their field. A great inspiration for young readers.

Pinkney, Jerry. Goin' Someplace Special. (2001). New York, New York. Atheneum Books for Young Readers. This book is fantastic for children to experience what black children went through during the time of laws of segregation. Tricia Ann is anxious to have to opportunity to go into town for the day. She experiences first hand what it is like for African Americans to be segregated by getting pointed out in the middle of a hotel. A great lesson for students to remember, that no matter who you are, you are somebody.

Polacco, Patrick. Pink and Say. (1994). New York, New York. Philomel Books. A true Civil War story that was passed down from generation to generation. This story is about two Union soldiers who end up in Confederate territory. One soldier is shot and wounded and is taken in by a grandmother. The grandmother puts her life of the line to take care of the soldier and nurse him back to health.

Taylor, Mildred D (1990). Mississippi Bridge. New York. Bantam Skylark Book. A historical fiction story for students to read and enjoy. The story is 62 pages in length and can be used as a tool for literary discussions. Jeremy Simms observes blacks and whites getting on a bus in Mississippi for a trip. At the last minute, a white family arrives and the bus driver sends the black people off the bus. In the end, a tragedy occurs on the bus and all of the passengers are killed.

Wiles, Deborah (2001). Freedom Summer. New York, New York. Atheneum Books for Young Readers. Two boys, Joe and John Henry are great friends. Joe is white and John Henry is black. This story takes place before and after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and shows the boys' experiences as friends.

Woodson, Jaqueline. (2001). The Other Side. New York, New York. GP Putnam's Sons. A story of an African American child and white child who live on opposite sides of a fence. Both girls are terribly interested in the other side and are often reminded by their elders not to ever go on the other side. Eventually, the girls end up crossing the fence and playing together.

Materials for Classroom Use

  • Overhead Projector
  • - Copies of Sybil Liberty Flyers (one copy for every four students)
  • - Class set of Mississippi Bridge, by Mildred Taylor
  • - One copy of Tell All the Children Our Story: Memories and Mementos of Being Young and Black in America, by Tonya Bolden
  • - Computers with internet access for teacher and students
  • - A library of books for teacher read-aloud and silent reading for students
  • - Magazines, newspapers and material for students to cut
  • - Scissors, glue, markers, construction paper

Figure 1

Consequence Charts

(table available in print form)

(table available in print form)

Comments (0)

Be the first person to comment

When you are finished viewing curriculum units on this Web site, please take a few minutes to provide feedback and help us understand how these units, which were created by public school teachers, are useful to others.
THANK YOU — your feedback is very important to us! Give Feedback