Curricular Unit Information

Unit Title: Dunbar High School and the Long Civil Rights Movement
Course: DC History
Grade Level: 12th
Unit Length: 5 days
Length of Class Period: 90 minutes

Personal Stake:

My parents grew up in the segregated South during the civil rights movement and their experiences helped shape me into the peron I am today.

Watching images from the award winning Eyes on the Prize series always put chills in my spine. My mother is from Birmingham and she was one of those young people being attacked by police dogs and sprayed with water cannons, my aunt sat next to Carole Robertson in class and told us the story about returning to school the Monday after the 16th street bombing and looking at her empty school desk.

I remember riding from New York to Georgia to visit family and pulling into a rest stop in South Carolina, telling  my father that I was hungry and walking with him into the restaurant through the front door and a worker directing us to the back door.

I've always felt that Civil Rights was a personal experience but when I became a teacher at Dunbar I began to make connections.So many luminaries in the African American community can be traced directly to Dunbar. Dunbar has a rich legacy of activisim in this city and I want the current students to be aware of the contributions of Dunbar alumni to the Long Civil Rights movement.

Common Core Standards (connections):


1) Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.

3) Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.

6) Evaluate authors' differing points of view on the same histoical event or issue by assessing the authors' claims, reasoning, and evidence.

7) Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.

9) Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.

Methods of Inquiry

Historical Contextualization

Historical Questioning / Arguments

Historical Sourcing

Historical Inference

Students should be able to juxtapose their modern day high school experiences with those of previous Dunbar alumni. Students should gain an appreciation and sense of pride knowing that they are walking on the shoulders of Giants in the Civil Rights movement. Finally students should come away with a sense of why the civil rights movements were / are important and hopefully come away with a good understanding of the roles they can play in the future.

Essential Questions:
What were some characteristics of both the 'educational' and 'social' climate in the early years of Dunbar High School?

Did Former Dunbar students / alumni demonstrate a greater sense of obligation to the Dunbar community than current students?

What role might Dunbar (the school building) have played during the Civil Rights movement?

Is there still a need for current Dunbar students to be active in the fight for Civil Rights? Or Have Civil Rights been achieved with the two term election of a Black President?

Diagnostic Assessment:  

Pre -Test

KWL Charts

Class Discussions

Formative Assessment:

Journal Writing

(Objective based) Exit Tickets

Summative Assessment:

Students will produce a reflective writing assignment on the historic importance of Legacy to the Dunbar community.

Students will produce a power point presentation that includes a brief alumni interview about the legacy of Dunbar. 

This unit will offer multiple opportunities at differentiation. Students will be able to write poems, complete collages, utilize technology for research purposes, handle manipulatives and record oral histories. 

Community and Cultural Resources:
[from the Sumner Institute]

Sumner School

Washington Historical Society

Dunbar Museum

Dunbar Alumni Association

Daily Instruction:
Lesson#1             Dunbar An Early History

Lesson#2             Sumner and the Dunbar Connection

Lesson#3             Dunbar's Legacy

Lesson#4             In their own words (Oral Histories)  

Lesson#5             What am I going to do about it?/What will my legacy be?