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The Struggle for Equality: Apartheid in South Africa

This curriculum unit has been designed for use in a seventh grade Social Studies classroom.  While our middle school students usually have an understanding of the issue of civil rights in this country, it is important that they understand that racial struggles have affected other countries as well.  Because seventh grade students study Africa in Social Studies class, it is an appropriate time to introduce South Africa’s policy of apartheid as something that is similar to, but perhaps much more complex than the civil rights movement here in the United States.  Apartheid was government-sanctioned racism that encouraged, and often times put into law, the complete separation of the races.  Every aspect of a person’s life was determined by skin color.

This unit will start by briefly comparing and contrasting apartheid to civil rights.  It will then go on to cover the causes of apartheid and what life was like for those living in South Africa.  Students will look at video footage from South Africa during apartheid, including two demonstrations that took place to protest the policies of apartheid.  They will then determine events that led to the dismantling of apartheid.  Students will also spend time looking into the life of Nelson Mandela who became the worldwide face of the anti-apartheid movement during his 27 years in prison and his eventual election as the first black president of South Africa. 

Eilis Hood
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