Teaching the Struggle for Civil Rights, 1948–1976

by Whitney Blankenship (Volume editor)
©2018 Textbook XII, 216 Pages


Teaching the Struggle for Civil Rights, 1948–1976 will provide readers with critical content knowledge of lesser known figures and events in the 20th century Civil Rights Movement. As the initial volume in the Teaching Critical Themes in American History series, the book will also fulfill the aim of the series, which is to provide teachers with history content, pedagogical strategies, and teaching resources organized around key themes in American history and critical topics on which they might want to concentrate.
In Teaching the Struggle for Civil Rights, 1948–1976, traditional civil rights narratives are expanded through the use of an intersectional lens within historical analysis essays that provide additional context to the larger civil rights movements of the period. The pedagogical issues essays focus on common concerns and disputes that often surround the teaching of civil rights. Lesson plans and related resources addressing the topics highlighted by chapter authors are also included in the book. Social studies and history methods professors and curriculum coordinators will find the book helpful for introducing the teaching of civil rights movements. Pre-service and in-service educators can use the lesson plans and resources as models for their own units of study.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Tables
  • Preface to the Book Series Teaching Critical Themes in American History (Caroline R. Pryor)
  • Book Series Organization
  • Reference
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction (Whitney G. Blankenship)
  • Pedagogical Content Knowledge and Teaching the Civil Rights Movement
  • Addressing the Common Core and Inquiry
  • Educating for Citizenship: Common Core and the C3 Framework
  • References
  • Section 1: Historical Analysis
  • 1. An American Dilemma: Contextualizing the Modern Civil Rights Movement, 1948–1976 (Robert Cvornyek / Whitney G. Blankenship)
  • References
  • 2. Portraitures of Living in the Era of Legal Segregation: Baltimore, Maryland (Gary A. Homana)
  • Answering the Call to Civil Rights: “Making a Way Where There Ain’t No Way”
  • Insulation/Isolation: The Insular Nature of Segregated Communities
  • Expectations: The Responsibility Greater Than Yourself—the Obligation
  • Then and Now: Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Going
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • 3. Education for Emancipation: The Mississippi Freedom Schools (Kristen E. Duncan)
  • Freedom Summer
  • Freedom School Foundations
  • Planning the Freedom Schools
  • Freedom Schools in Practice
  • Teachers and Students
  • Learning the Freedom School Way
  • Legacy of the Freedom Schools
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • 4. Invisible Leader: Septima Poinsette Clark’s Covert Contributions to the Civil Rights Movement (Chaddrick Gallaway)
  • Septima Clark’s Work: Construction of an Activist
  • Septima Clark: The Highlander Folk School and Citizenship Schools
  • Black Women’s Invisibility in the Civil Rights Movement
  • Septima Clark’s View on Black Women’s Impact in the Civil Rights Movement
  • The Importance of Septima Poinsette Clark’s Story
  • Conclusion
  • Note
  • References
  • 5. “They Never Lynched You, They Never Called You a N*****”: Black Athletes, Black Critical Patriotism, and the Mid-20th Century Freedom Movement (Christopher L. Busey / Paul D. Mencke)
  • Introduction
  • Black Athletes, Black Critical Patriotism and the Mid-20th Century Freedom Movement
  • Physical Resistance
  • Political Thought
  • Critical Intellectualism
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • 6. From the Margins to Center Stage: The Chicano Movement (Ellen Bigler)
  • Resistance to Chicano Studies
  • So What Is the Chicano Movement?
  • Mexico Loses Almost Half Its Territory to the U.S.
  • Economic Marginalization
  • Depression and World War II-Era Abuses of Civil Rights
  • Confronting Educational Inequities
  • Post-War Discriminatory Treatment Continues
  • Organizing the Migrant Farmworkers
  • Beyond the UFW and Farmworker Issues
  • Chicana Feminism
  • The Chicano Cultural Renaissance
  • Notes
  • References
  • 7. The Asian American Movement and Civil Rights (Phonsia Nie / Noreen Naseem Rodriguez)
  • A Shared Asian American History
  • Immigration and Naturalization
  • Unfair Labor Practices
  • Japanese American Incarceration
  • Notable Figures in the Asian American Movement
  • Asian American and Interracial Coalitions
  • Asian Americans and Educational Access
  • References
  • Section 2: Pedagogical Issues
  • 8. Teaching the Long Civil Rights Movement (Aaron C. Bruewer / Jayne R. Beilke)
  • Reconceptualizing Social Studies Curricula
  • Concepts: Banks’ Transformative Curriculum
  • Digital Technology and Expanding Pedagogy through TPACK
  • Digital Tools and Curricular Transformation
  • Meaningful Multimedia Timelines
  • New Narratives through Digital Story Telling
  • Digital Storytelling with Adobe Spark
  • Implications for Classroom Practice
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • 9. The Teaching of Lynching: Considering a Pedagogic Necessity (Bryan Gibbs)
  • Lynching: A History
  • Teaching Lynching
  • Embedding Lynching through the Use of Essential Questions
  • Context and Identity Matter
  • Utilizing Stories of Resistance to Fight the Cynic in All of Us
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • 10. From the Bottom Up: Citizenship Education during the Civil Rights Movement (LaGarrett J. King / John A. Moore)
  • Civil Rights Curriculum and Teaching in K–12 Schools
  • From the Bottom-Up: What to Consider in Civil Rights Teaching
  • References
  • 11. “It was never that simple”: Complicating the Master-Narrative around School Desegregation (ArCasia James)
  • Teaching Desegregation
  • A Student’s Perspective: An Oral History of Desegregation
  • Hitting Content and Skills: Pedagogical Suggestions
  • Connection to Today
  • Appendix
  • Oral History of Desegregation: An Interview with Esther Evans
  • Notes
  • References
  • 12. The GI Forum, Felix Longoria and El Movimiento: Understanding the Latina/o Civil Rights Movement through Critical Historical Inquiry (Cinthia S. Salinas / Amanda E. Vickery / Noreen Naseem Rodriguez)
  • Attention to the Narrative
  • The Challenge at Hand in Teaching El Movimiento
  • The Longoria Affair as a Case Study of Civicness
  • Primary One: Gran Junta De Protesta
  • Primary Two: The Un-American Action of the Rice Funeral Home
  • Primary Three: LBJ Offers an Honorable Solution
  • Understanding the Latina/o Civil Rights Movement through Critical Historical Inquiry
  • Note
  • References
  • Section 3: Lesson Plans and Resources
  • Appendix: Teaching Civil Rights Using Inquiry Design Method: Lesson Plans and Resources
  • Resources
  • NCSS Standards and C3 Framework
  • National Council for the Social Studies Standards and C3 Framework
  • C3 Teachers
  • Understanding the Inquiry Design Model
  • Common Core State Standards
  • African American Civil Rights Movement
  • Books/Print
  • Graphic Novels
  • Museums and Archives
  • Library of Congress Digital Collections
  • Multimedia and Websites
  • Chicano Civil Rights Movement
  • Books/Print
  • Multimedia and Websites Activist State
  • Museums and Archives
  • Asian American Civil Rights Movement
  • Books/Print Materials
  • Museums and Archives
  • Websites and Digital Media
  • Contributors
  • Index
  • Series index

| vii →


Table 10.1 Civil Rights Movement State Standards, Anderson (2013)

Table 12.1 Sample of National Council for Social Studies Strands (NCSS)

Table 12.2 C3 Dimension 2, Applying Disciplinary Concepts and Tools

Table A1 The Evolving Civil Rights Movement

Table A2 Segregation in the United States Today

Table A3 Black Athletes, Anti-Racist Activism and Patriotism

Table A4 Desegregation as a Strategy

Table A5 Septima Clark (Elementary Grades)

Table A6 Freedom Schools in Mississippi (Middle Grades)

Table A7 Freedom Schools in Mississippi (Secondary)

Table A8 Interracial Alliances during the Civil Rights Movement

Table A9 Asian Americans and School Segregation

Table A10 Examining the Chicano Movement

| ix →

Preface to the Book Series Teaching Critical Themes in American History

The purpose of this book series is to provide teachers an examination of critical issues in American history and provide resources to teach these issues. The resources found in this series are: (a) historical content for exploring critical issues, (b) historical context for addressing the themes of civil rights and liberties, (c) examples of how to use national standards to augment lessons, and (d) primary and secondary source material to support the investigation of critical themes in American history.

In working with teachers who had developed lesson plans for our earlier publication on Abraham Lincoln, the theme that we (Pryor & Hansen, 2014) most often discussed was the nature and embodiment of civil rights and civil liberties. These teachers had, over the course of eight years, participated in a workshop titled Abraham Lincoln and the Forging of Modern America, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. This series of workshops prompted the development of Pryor and Hansen’s 2014 book, Teaching Lincoln: Legacies and Classroom Strategies, a collection of essays and lesson plans written by historians, teachers and teacher educators.

We learned from these teachers that the challenges of teaching main events of the Lincoln era were many—however, the larger challenge was how to teach critical issues of this era. One of the themes of our workshop was slavery. A challenge for teachers had been how to address critical issues emanating from Lincoln’s announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation. What role would newly free slaves have? Would they be citizens? If citizens, what rights would they have (e.g., the right to vote). From this awareness, we wondered what content and pedagogical resources teachers might need to more deeply address the critical issue of all of American history—civil rights and civil liberties.

The main theme of this book series emerged as the editorial team developed the topic of each volume and noticed the struggles and challenges of teaching each topic. These teaching challenges appeared to us as we explored ← ix | x → how to provide students a more robust experience when learning about historical events. We drew from this pedagogical challenge the need to describe the political philosophies underlying the American historical narrative.

Book Series Organization

The series is initially composed of 10 separately titled books each examining a different significant problem/critical issue in American history. The target audiences of the series are middle and secondary school teachers and university professors of teacher education. Each volume will contain disciplinary content in American history, a discussion of disciplinary connectedness linking past and present thematic issues, a discussion of the pedagogical challenges in teaching that content, examples of lesson plans, and resources teachers could use in the classroom.

Each of the volumes can stand alone and each will directly address the Common Core Standards (CC) adopted by 46 states (http://www.corestandards.org), the C3 Framework (C3.ncss.org) and the National Curriculum Standards (NCS) of the National Council of the Social Studies (ncss.org). The theme (title) of each volume is supported by a series of topics (ideas/problems/questions) critical to understanding the theme. To connect the series’ themes, topics within each theme may reappear in several volumes.

Each volume is accompanied by access to an electronic resource that will contain primary documents, secondary literature, and projects that the teacher can assign to the students based on and linked to the complementary foci of Common Core Standards, the C3 Framework, and the National Curriculum Standards of NCSS. The e-resource will be kept on a website designed and maintained by the editors and housed by the publisher of the series. Each book in the series and the accompanying e-resource can be used to supplement existing textbooks.

Caroline R. Pryor, Series Editor,
on behalf of the Editorial Team,
Jason Stacy, Erik Alexander,
Char Johnson and James Mitchell, 2017


Pryor, C. R., & Hansen, S. L. (2014). Teaching Lincoln: Legacies and classroom strategies. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishers.

| xi →


With appreciation and acknowledgement to the Series Editorial Advisory Board for their work, insights and dedication to teachers, students and the production of this series.

Whitney Blankenship, Laura Milsk Fowler, Brian Gibbs, Michael E. Karpyn, Julianna Kershen, Stephanie McAndrews, Jack Sevin, Mary Stockwell, and Dennis U. Urban Jr.

We also appreciate and acknowledge:

Stephen L. Hansen for his vision in bringing critical historical issues to the forefront of how teachers and students might discuss history.

Sarah Bode and Sara McBride, Peter Lang Publishing, for their flexibility and openness in testing new constructs and their helpful suggestions to bring these about.

To our respective universities for their support of our academic endeavors.

| 1 →



The teaching of the modern Civil Rights movement has often focused on a narrow era roughly beginning with Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Kansas and ending around 1968 with the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Within this time frame the traditional textbook narrative often focuses on a few heroic individuals such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., and key events including the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the lunch counter sit-ins, and the March on Washington. As a result, students gain an incomplete picture of the complexity of the African American civil rights movement, and a narrow understanding of the intersectionality of the many freedom movements of the period. This volume speaks to the missing voices of the traditional textbook narrative by focusing on the development of the modern civil rights movement in the period from 1947 to 1976.

The movements that emerged during this time frame can be understood to embrace two enduring themes: (1) the modern civil rights movement did not occur in a vacuum, but was shaped by the intersection of the foreign and domestic policy of the period; and (2) the strategies and tactics used by groups to achieve their aims evolved throughout the period in response to local, state, national, and international reactions to the freedom movements. These themes revolve around the quest for civil rights and civil liberties as they were experienced by participants in those movements. Recursive themes aid our understanding of why the modern civil rights movement exploded onto the scene in the mid-20th century even though organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Sleeping Car Porters Union, and the United Negro Improvement Association had been working towards greater economic, political, and social equality since the end of the 19th century. ← 1 | 2 →

Within the larger themes are sub-themes reflecting the role of lesser known individuals’ contributions to the movement; the intersectionality between the African American, Women’s Liberation, Chicano, and Asian American movements; and the absence of textbook narratives around controversial issues such as lynching. Through the investigation of these themes in the historical analysis chapters and the questions posed within the pedagogical challenges chapters, teachers can use the volume as a foundation for their own curricular planning.

The volumes’ focus on this pivotal period in the evolution of the United States’ understanding of civil rights and civil liberties offers deeper historical context that can enrich the narrative beyond the rather straightforward narrative of the freedom movements seen in textbooks and popular media. The emphasis on inquiry learning to address civil rights topics allows students to build their critical historical thinking skills while also giving teachers exemplars of inquiry projects to use as a starting point in their own curricular planning.

Pedagogical Content Knowledge and Teaching the Civil Rights Movement


XII, 216
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2018 (August)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Vienna, Oxford, Wien, 2018. XII, 216 pp., 13 tbl.

Biographical notes

Whitney Blankenship (Volume editor)

Whitney G. Blankenship received her Ph.D. in social studies education at the University of Texas, Austin. Previously an associate professor at Rhode Island College, she held a joint appointment to the Departments of Educational Studies and History and coordinated the History Secondary Education program. She currently teaches history in the International Baccalaureate program at Meridian World School in Round Rock, Texas. Dr. Blankenship’s research interests include curriculum history and teaching historical thinking through technology integration.


Title: Teaching the Struggle for Civil Rights, 1948–1976
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