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Listen to the “Unsung Women of the Civil Rights Movement” through this lesson plan for Grades 8-12

As a 2017 Carolina Oral History Teaching Fellow, 8th grade teacher at Pilot Mountain Middle School Beth Lowry was moved by the voices of female civil rights activists—and by the fact that she hadn’t heard of most of these women before. So, she dedicated her lesson plan to highlighting these women and their role in the civil rights movement for her students. Focusing on individual women as examples, Lowry demonstrates to her students “that, without women, the Civil Rights Movement could not have been as successful.”

The questions that guide Lowry’s lesson plan encourage students to consider both how women contributed “to political and social action and change during the Civil Rights Movement” and why these women have “often been overshadowed throughout history.” To get students to grapple with these questions, she fills this lesson with interview clips from the SOHP archives. Students hear from interviews with and about female civil rights activists including Septima Clark, Ella Baker, Daisy Bates, and Fannie Lou Hamer. To get students analyzing these voices, Lowry offers a number of activities in which students work in pairs, across stations, or as a whole class. Questions such as “What words/phrases would you use to describe the women you learned about today?” and “What is ‘activism’ and in what ways were these women activists?” facilitate a discussion that allows students to appreciate not only these women’s’ existence in the movement but also how taking them into account affects our understanding of “activism” itself.

So, when students close the lesson by writing an ode that “celebrates the activism and achievements of women in the Movement,” they will be more than prepared.

Access the lesson plan and the accompanying PowerPoint for your own classroom!