Skip to content Skip to navigation

Lesson Plan: Voices of the Struggle: The Continual Struggle for Justice

Drawing of a sit-in when angry whites poured food, ketchup, and mustard over students trying to integrate lunch counters. The students are drawn in color and the protesters are depicted in black and white.

Inspired by actual events: During the sit-ins, angry whites poured food over students trying to integrate lunch counters

Drawing by Evan Bissell


In this unit, students develop a broader understanding of the struggle for equality from 1868 to the present by exploring first-person narratives from a diverse group of Americans. Beginning with a study of the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education, students determine the criteria for identifying an event as historically significant. Students then explore the impact of the struggle for equality by interviewing people in their community and utilizing resources such as Toni Morrison’s Remember: The Journey to School Integration, Voices of Civil Rights, a national oral history project by the Library of Congress, and StoryCorps, an independent non-profit project that focuses on oral history collections of individuals’ life experiences.

Sesheta Hanible
English Language, U.S. History
6-8, 9-12
Teaching Standard: 

English/Language Arts:  Reading 1.0, Reading 2.0, Writing 1.0, History-Social Science 5.7  

Essential Question

How has the struggle for civil rights impacted the lives of Americans in the past and present? 

Sub Questions

  • What are “civil rights”?
  • Why was the 1954 United States Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education important?
  • How did the Brown decision impact young people in the United States?
  • How do we determine if an event is historically significant?
  • What are some other significant events in the United States Civil Rights Movement? Who was involved?
  • How have civil rights laws, court decisions, and events affected individuals in your family or community?