Educator Resources

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Teaching Activities

Standards Correlations

This lesson correlates to the National History Standards.

  • Era 9 -Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)
    • Standard 4B -Demonstrate understanding of the women's movement for civil rights and equal opportunities.
  • Era 10 -Contemporary United States (1968 to the present)
    • Standard 1A -Demonstrate understanding of domestic politics from Nixon to Carter.

This lesson correlates to the National Standards for Civics and Government.

  • Standard II.C.2. -Describe the character of American political conflict and explain factors that usually tend to prevent it or lower its intensity.
  • Standard II.D.3. -Evaluate, take and defend positions on what the fundamental values and principles of American political life are and their
    importance to the maintenance of constitutional democracy.
  • Standard II.D.4. -Evaluate, take, and defend positions on issues in which fundamental values and principles may be in conflict.
  • Standard II.D.5. -Evaluate, take, and defend positions about issues concerning the disparities between American ideals and realities.

Constitutional Connection

This lesson relates to the Preamble; to Article I, which establishes Congress's power to legislate; to Article II, which establishes the president's
power to issue executive orders; to Article III, which establishes the jurisdiction of the courts; and to the 14th Amendment which guarantees equal
protection of the laws.

Cross-curricular Connections

Please share this exercise with your colleagues who teach government, history, women's studies, and minority studies.


Introductory Exercises

  1. Ask students what they think the term "affirmative action" means. Share with them the information from the Historical Background about
    President Johnson's use of the term.

  2. Locate and bring to class examples of job applications, student handbooks, and college applications. Distribute them to students and direct each
    student to examine the items for any statement related to the implementation of affirmative action. Ask 4 or 5 students to describe the items and read
    any statement of affirmative action. Ask students if they know why such statements appear on the forms. Inform them that prior to July 2, 1964, such
    items would not have contained such statements.

Document Analysis

  1. Divide students into 8 small groups and provide each group a copy of one of the pages of the featured document. Ask each group to read its page
    and record the main points. Lead a class discussion on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by directing one representative from each group to report to the
    class on the contents of that page. Ask students what the act did and what provisions were included for its enforcement. Also ask students if they
    think Congress was overly careful in defining terms and why Section 702 included specific definitions.

Research and Discuss

  1. Divide students into 4 groups, one to focus on the 1960s, one on the 1970s, one on the 1980s, and one on the 1990s. Require each group to
    conduct research and design a table "Toward Gender Equality: Public Policy Milestones." Direct them to include congressional, presidential, and
    judicial actions. Ask students to post tables to each other electronically, using e-mail, or ask one representative from each group to present the
    group's table to the class. Conclude this activity by either

    1. Directing student groups to write an essay, using information from the tables, about how congressional, presidential, and judicial actions taken
      during the past four decades have influenced gender equality in the workforce, or

    2. Leading a class discussion on the issues and actions students expect will dominate the next decade. A possible example is women in the military.

Design and Construct a Poll

  1. Divide students into two groups and assign each the task of drafting questions for a public opinion poll to determine public attitudes toward
    affirmative action. Lead a discussion of the questions. Ask: Is each question clear? Is there more than one interpretation? Is there bias? Select the
    five best questions. Require each student to poll 10 people. For a sample of a poll on this subject, see Gallup, March 1995. Annual published
    editions of Gallup polls are available in most public and college libraries. Ask students to report their findings to the class.

Research and Jigsaw Activity

  1. Inform students that in addition to enforcing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the EEOC enforces other federal statutes prohibiting discrimination.
    Provide them a list of the statutes listed in the background essay. Divide students into 8 groups. Direct each group to research their assigned statute
    and find out what it requires of employers. Direct them to share their information using the jigsaw method.

The document included in this project is from Record Group 11, General Records of the U.S. Government. It is available online through the National Archives Catalog National Archives Identifier: 299891.

You can perform a keyword, digitized image and location search in the National Archives Catalog. The online catalog's advanced functionalities also allow you to search by organization, person, or topic.

The online catalog is a searchable database that contains information about a wide variety of NARA holdings across the country. You can use the National Archives Catalog to search record descriptions by keywords or topics and retrieve digital copies of selected textual documents, photographs, maps, and sound recordings related to thousands of topics.

Currently, about 80% of NARA's vast holdings have been described in the National Archives Catalog. Thousands of digital images can be searched in the National Archives Catalog. In keeping with NARA's Strategic Plan, the percentage of holdings described in the National Archives Catalog will grow continually.

This article was written by Linda Simmons, an associate professor at Northern Virginia Community College in Manassas, VA.