Curricular Unit Information

Unit Title: Education as a Means of Protest
Course: DC History & Government
Grade Level: 12
Unit Length: 5 days

Length of Class Period: 90 minutes

Personal Stake:
African Americans have long equated education with freedom and advancement. The right to a good education has historically been an integral part of the Long Civil Rights Movement as African American sought both social and economic equality.

After serving as a chaplain and teacher in a maximum security all male facility with a high population of African American young men, both my students and I noticed several common threads: lack of role models in the home, lack of religious affiliation, and lack of education. 

This unit seeks to revisit the historical value of education in the African American community in Washington, DC and assesses the ways citizens united to actively resist (protest) crippling circumstances and unjust policies.

Unit Topic: 
Students will use this curricular unit to examine the role of protest in DC history as a means of gaining social and economic equality. This will be accomplished through the examination of primary sources including maps, photographs, personal papers (letters), and newspapers during the late 19th through the early part of the 20th century. Students will develop research and document analysis skills.

Common Core Standards (connections): 
Reading Standards for Literacy in history/Social Studies 6-12:


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 historical 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:
Students' primary inquiry method will be in the examination of primary and secondary source documents. 

Students will use history frames to track their discoveries. They will be encouraged to think historically After the document source analysis, students will compare and contrast related primary source materials. Case studies, roundtable discussions, and debates will also aid in helping student to think critically and reinforce ideas.

Students should leave with a deeper appreciation and respect for education and for those who sacrificed for them to have be educated. I hope they will also recognize the high cost associated with the fight for equality in public education as well as an understanding of how their life would be different without these civil rights advancements.

Essential Questions:  

  • What constitutes a protest? 
  • What forms of protest are most effective (physical, spiritual, nonviolent violent, or combination thereof)? 
  • List the ways African Americans have historically utilized protests to overcome discrimination.
  • In what ways have African Americans used education and religion to advance civil rights efforts?

Assessment of Student Learning: 

  • Class Discussion
  • Guided Practice
  • Daily Written Assessments
Diagnostic Assessment:
Students' will take a multiple choice pretest on content at the beginning of the unit.

Formative Assessment:

  • Class discussion
  • Daily written responses to questions regarding various modes of protest

Summative Assessment: 
Students will have five (5) modern events and then required to select two (2)  to answer the following:

  • What are they protesting?
  • Why?
  • What form of protest are they using (physical, spiritual, non-violent, violent or combination)?
  • Which method is most effective? Why?

Students will also be required to compare and contrast, in essay form, one of the protests to Frederick Douglass, Nannie Helen Burroughs, Mahatma Gandhi or Dr. Martin Luther King.

Students will be given the option to use primary sources to create a poster or powerpoint as evidence to support their claim in lieu of an essay.

*Since I will be co-teaching (with a SPED instructor), this exercises can easily be modified for SPED students with a chart they are required to fill in.

Students will have opportunities throughout the curricular unit to demonstrate understanding through a variety of methods:

  • Posters 
  • PowerPoint Presentations
  • Newspaper editorials
  • Essays (varying in length)

Community and Cultural Resources: 
Historical Society of Washington, D.C.

Library of Congress, Manuscript Division

D.C. Cultural Tourism (Deanwood Neighborhood)

Nannie Helen Burroughs School

First Baptist Church, Deanwood

Daily Instruction:

Lesson 1:The Many Faces of Protest

Lesson 2: Liberation: Physical Protests

Lesson 3: Role of Religion in Protests

Lesson 4:  Education As a means of Protest Lesson

Lesson 5- Protests in Review/ Assessment