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“We got to use what we got.” How Birmingham’s Children Became Foot Soldiers on the Front Lines in the Fight for Civil Rights Birmingham, Alabama 1963

In the crowded curriculum of a 5th grade classroom, the Civil Rights Movement is often a footnote to Black History Month activities. Students are familiar with a few notable personages and a handful of landmark events, but they know little about what came before. But they should. As Frederick Douglass noted, “It is not well to forget the past.” Our students should have a sure understanding of the events and times that so drastically shaped and changed our country and its culture.

Throughout the years of the Civil Rights Movement, there were many black children and teenagers who were actively involved. Their names may be largely lost to history, but the effects of their brave acts are not. This unit tells the story of those children. It is a three to four week multi-disciplinary unit for a fifth grade classroom. Students will collect and analyze data, read in a variety of genres, conduct research, write in various modes, and present the results of their research in a multi-media culminating project.

Joyce Arnosky
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