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Lesson Plan

Examining the Legacy of the American Civil Rights Era

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Examining the Legacy of the American Civil Rights Era

Grades 11 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 50-minute sessions (plus additional time for viewing Legacy: Black and White in America, optional)
Lesson Author

Scott Filkins

Scott Filkins

Champaign, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English


Materials and Technology






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  1. Select and obtain copies of Black Boy or another work by an African-American author students will read.  Students need to read and discuss the work before beginning the activities in this lesson.
  2. Because of the potentially sensitive nature of some of the conversation in this lesson, consider your students’ readiness for an investigation of the contemporary black-white racial divide in America.  Read the English Journal article “Walking the Talk: Examining Privilege and Race in a Ninth-Grade Classroom” for ideas (such as the privilege walk) on how to prepare students.
  3. Obtain and preview a copy of the documentary Legacy: Black and White in America (optional).  If you choose to show the documentary, select scenes that are most relevant for the discussions you wish to occur.  You may need to obtain permission for viewing the documentary because of the isolated use of school-inappropriate language in a few scenes.
  4. Make copies of all necessary handouts.
  5. Arrange for access to Internet connected computers for Sessions Two and Three.


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