Sixth grade students have been learning about the civil rights movement in preparation for our upcoming trip to Alabama. After learning background historical information and about nonviolence, students then completed an activity about individual people. It can be difficult to imagine historical events so we wanted students to have real stories to read in order to begin to understand and appreciate complicated events.
Each student learned about an individual person from the Civil Rights era. All the people studied became martyrs in their desire for equal rights. Some of the people included Emmett Till, Vernon Dahmer, Jonathan Daniels, Viola Liuzzo, and eleven others. Students read articles with a partner. They needed to learn five main pieces of information:
- name (and photo)
- age and race
- where they were killed
- who killed them
- why they were killed
After reading for understanding, students organized the information in a visual display. Each person then presented the information as well as other pertinent details to the class. After every one participated, we studied the display. We found there were men killed, and women killed. There were white people killed, and black people killed. There were young people (11 years old, 14 years old) and older people killed (50’s and 60’s) and all ages in between. There were people from southern states killed and people from northern states.
The ultimate lesson gained from the experience is that people from all walks of life sacrificed their lives to attempt to promote equality- regardless of skin color.