Educator Resources

Jackie Robinson, Civil Rights Advocate

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

This lesson also correlates to the National Standards for Civics and Government:

  • Part V: What are the roles of the citizen in American Democracy?

Time Required

Two class periods


To use the information contained in historical documents to classify ways citizens can influence government policy.

Materials Needed


  1. Reproduce copies of the nine documents and the student worksheet for each student.

  2. Ask students to number from 1 to 9 on a sheet of paper leaving six lines between each number.

  3. Read aloud each of the following scenarios, pausing to allow students to write their responses to the questions on their papers.

    1. A bill has just passed in the Senate and is on its way to the House of Representatives. Although you favor the principle of the bill, you oppose the bill in its present form because you fear it does not do enough. What do you do? Why?

    2. You have just returned from a meeting at which the President of the United States spoke. His speech frustrated you. What do you do? Why?

    3. It is the fall of an election year. You support a particular candidate, and you are a well-known celebrity. The race is predicted to be very close. What do you do? Why?

    4. The election is over and the candidate whom you supported did not win. You hope the new President will support issues that concern you. What do you do? Why?

    5. An important leader of a cause you believe in is going to attend the funeral of another leader who was recently assassinated. You are concerned for his safety. What do you do? Why?

    6. A large rally is going to be held in Washington DC. People in attendance will be showing their support for a cause in which you strongly believe. What do you do? Why?

    7. A place of worship in a community more than 1,000 miles from your home has been bombed. What do you do? Why?

    8. A leader of a cause you believe in has spoken out against an executive policy that you also support. You fear that the words of protest spoken by this leader will cause the President to limit his efforts towards your common cause. What do you do? Why?

    9. You sense that a younger generation will not be as patient as your generation was to wait for changes to occur in government policy. You believe that violence could erupt at any moment. What do you do? Why?

  4. Ask for two or three responses to each scenario. Inform students that each scenario was similar to one Jackie Robinson faced between 1957 and 1972.

  5. Distribute copies of the documents and worksheet to each student. Ask students to analyze the documents and determine the actual actions taken by Robinson and then, complete the worksheet comparing Robinson's actions to their own stated reactions.

  6. Discuss the completed worksheets with students.

Follow Up

Ask students to identify different ways in which citizens can take an active role in policy-making today. Then ask whether they think technology allows citizens to be more or less actively involved.