HM - Nov. 2013 - Evans

Classroom Applications
U. S. History:  Civil Rights Oral History Project
by Lucinda Evans
Kansas Council for History Education,
Topeka Public Schools, KS

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Introduction:  Dr. Millicent Brown has articulated very clearly the need to tell the entire story of the Civil Rights movement.  Too often students are introduced to the leaders of the Civil Rights movement by educators without realizing it took an army of individuals to fight the battle for equality.  Educators have a unique opportunity in that through educational programming they can help their students tell the story of the Civil Rights movement in their local community.   Through this project I have had students interview family or friends who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., worked cotton plantations through share cropping in the deep South, played college ball against teams of the deep South that were not integrated, fought the Korean War in a newly integrated unit and many others.  My most memorable interview was the day a young man walked into my classroom and said he was going to interview his grandmother.  His grandmother was Linda Brown, the main litigant of the Brown v. Topeka Board of Education case.  Educators who take the risk and choose to allow students to learn more about their communities through this oral history project are creating student citizens who learn through this experience that the past is an important part of the present.  I have done this project for over 20 years in my classroom and the numbers of students who have come back to thank me are too numerous to mention.

Grade Level: 7-12 US History
Time Frame:
60-90 minutes prep time; 15-20 minutes/interview

Lesson Summary: 
Students will interview individuals about their experiences in    the Civil Rights movement of the last 60 years.  When teaching the last 50-60 years of the Civil Rights story the best resource is to use local individuals who can talk firsthand about the event; the best primary source there is.

Framework for Developing College, Career, and Civic Life (C3).

Dimension 1 -  Questioning is the key to student learning, the use of questions are central to teaching and learning.
Historical Background for the Teacher: “As all-Black schools closed, merged, transformed, etc.; trophies, awards, yearbooks, school logos and mascots disappeared.  Memories of high educational standards insisted upon by some of the best prepared teachers excluded from other professions because of their race fell victim to impressions that “all-Black” meant “ghetto”, i.e. lacking. Many inner city communities absorbed the full financial burden that had once been shared by all levels of income, and even in segregated Black areas, middle class Blacks left the circle to live and learn in new mixed- race neighborhoods and schools.   Our responsibility to all children, and to the accuracy of teaching race relations and civil rights struggles, demands an acknowledgement of both gain and loss.  Present day teachers will be well served in exploring- what is the truth before Brown v Board of Education?”  Millicent Ellison Brown,  Ph.D.

Anticipatory Set: The day before, have students generate questions based on the interview topics scheduled for the next day. Do a pair-share to peer review the questions.  Students are checking to make sure their partner has written content appropriate questions.  This will also serve as a final reminder to the students who are expected to conduct their interview the next day.
Do Now Activity: At the beginning of each class remind the students about expected behaviors.
I.   Presentation Format
a. Students choose to do a Live Interview(A), Video Interview(B) or Written Interview(C)
             1. All interviews are limited to 15 minutes unless special circumstances require more time. Only 2 interviews will be done each hour of each day.
II. Lesson Procedure
.                       1.  Students will interview individuals about their experiences in the Civil Rights movement of the last 60 years.  Students may work in groups of up to 4 students. 
                                2.  Each student then writes a paragraph telling the formal name of the person being interviewed.  Also include other students in your group and indicate whether you are planning for a Live Interview (A), Video Interview (B) or Written Interview (C).  Note;  Written interviews must be typed.
                                2a.  Paragraph Due Date _________________________________(20 points)
                                3.  Outside research is a must in order to conduct a good interview.  Research the period of Civil Rights history related to the time period your guest will be addressing.  Each member of your group must write up at least 10 rough draft questions to ask the interviewee.  All subjects and topics require instructor approval.
                                3a. Questions Due Date _________________________________(10 points)
                                4.  Final drafts of the 20 final questions chosen by the students from their approved lists are due the day before the interview so the instructor can make copies for the team.  Each group need only turn in one set of questions but they must be typed.
                               4a.  Final Questions Due Date __________________________________(20 points)
Homework: All students are to write a one page Reflection Paper about the interview.  Please include biographical information you learned about the person you interviewed and what you learned about the history of the period from this first person account of history. (25 points)
Parent/Guardian:  I understand that my son/daughter _______________________ has an oral history project to complete for US History.  I understand that failure to meet the deadlines and expectation of this project could cause my child to fail this course for the 4th quarter.  Parents, please tear off ‘Rules and Grading’ information below so you can stay informed about when parts of this project are due.  Return this form by __________________ for 5 EXTRA CREDIT points.
Rules and Grading
  1. Up to four students may work together. 
  2. Every student is expected to submit a paragraph of interview topic, a rough draft of interview questions and a Reflection Paper.
  3. The only group grade will be for the final draft of questions and the interview itself.
  4. Students will contract for an A, B or C on the interview component of the project.  It is possible for all students to get an A on the entire graded activity.
            Individual Grades:
                        Paragraph                  20 points
                        Questions-RD            10 points
                        Reflection Paper        25 points
            Total Individual Points         55 points
            Group Grades:
                        20 Questions Final                20 points
                        Interview                               50(A), 40(B), 30(C)
            Total Group Points                         Will vary based on interview format
Project Total:  Up to 125 points
Author of Lesson: Lucinda Evans, Topeka Public Schools