Teachers

Teaching With Documents Lesson Plan:
Beyond the Playing Field -
Jackie Robinson, Civil Rights Advocate

Teaching Activities: Civil Rights History

Standards Correlations

This lesson correlates to the National Standards for United States History:

  • Era 9, standard 4: The struggle for racial and gender equality and for the extension of civil liberties
    • Standards in Historical Thinking 3: Historical Analysis and Interpretation
    • Standards in Historical Thinking 4: Historical Research Capabilities
    • Standards in Historical Thinking 5: Historical Issues-Analysis and Decision-making

Time Required

One to two class periods

Objective

To identify key civil rights events and issues between 1957 and 1972 by analyzing archival documents.

Materials Needed

Procedures

  1. Make copies of each of the nine documents, the student worksheet, and the document analysis worksheets.

  2. Divide the class into nine groups. Give each group one document to analyze and the appropriate document analysis worksheet.

  3. Allow student groups 15-20 minutes to read and analyze their documents. Ask them to complete the document analysis worksheet and then identify the events and issues of the civil rights movement referred to in their documents. Explain that an event could be a meeting, the passage of a bill, an election, or a sit-in demonstration and that issues might include "equality," "race relations," "political strategy," and "violence."

  4. Distribute one copy of the student worksheet to each student.

  5. Ask a volunteer from each group to describe the content of the group's document for the class and identify the events and issues mentioned or implied within.

  6. Instruct students to complete their worksheets based on the information presented by their classmates.

  7. Lead a discussion using the following questions as a guide:
  • What are the similarities and differences between the events and issues identified in documents 1-4 and documents 5-9? According to Jackie Robinson, were things improving?

  • Do you think the events caused or resulted from the issues that concerned Robinson?

  • Five hundred years from now, if these nine documents were the only surviving pieces of evidence describing the civil rights struggle in the United States in the 20th century, what information about that struggle would survive? How accurate would that information be?

Follow Up

Encourage students to create a time line covering the years 1957-72 that identifies the events mentioned in the documents and other equally significant events.


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