1963-2013 The Dream Continues

Demanding equality for all, black Americans exercised First Amendment rights of speech, assembly and petition for a redress of grievances. The civil rights movement needed leaders, but grassroots efforts and demands of Americans brought about change.

When A. Philip Randolph called for a March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, leaders of black organizations, labor unions and religious denominations eventually came together. When more than 250,000 Americans gathered on the Mall making demands on its political leaders, the inequality and justice denied could no longer by ignored. When the largest mass demonstration in U.S. history concluded with ten demands and pledges by those who gathered, a turning point in the struggle for civil rights took place.


Activities in this curriculum guide are primarily built on The Washington Post’s March on Washington 50 Years Later coverage. In both the Sunday, August 25, special supplement and weekly articles and commentary, a wide range of topics were presented, people involved then and now interviewed, and images pulled from archives and captured that week were published. Projects span age groups and disciplines. Teachers of younger students have KidsPost coverage to use. Activities also include research projects and rigorous analysis of primary sources.



September 2013

Read About the 1963 March on Washington
Resource Graphic 

Develop Vocabulary
English, Social Studies,Government U.S. History

Terms associated with the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom are found in "In the Know." Be sure students know the meaning of each concept. How do they apply to the March and to the continuing struggle for legal, social, economic, political and personal equality?


Read and Research a Timeline
Social Studies, Government, U.S. History

Eight markers on the civil rights movement timeline are featured in the KidsPost "Dream of Equality" timeline. Ways to use the timeline with younger students include:
• Read the timeline and discuss the individuals who are involved, the actions that are related, and the reasons for the actions.
• Write beside each circle why each action took place? What was happening and who was seeking a change?
• Research three six-year groups: 1950-1956, 1957-1963, and 1964-1970. Ask students to add three to five events on their group's timeline. Share with the class the social, political, economic and educational conditions that existed in that timeframe.
• After discussion, ask students to tell how each item in the timeline helps to achieve the dream of equal rights.

Meet Martin Luther King, Jr.
English, Social Studies, Speech, U.S. History

KidsPost introduces younger students to Martin Luther King, Jr., and his most well-known speech in two articles: “Who Was Martin Luther King Jr.?” and “‘I have a dream …’.” These may be read and discussed in a civil rights movement context, in a study of speeches that make an impact or of Americans who made a difference.


As students read “Who Was Martin Luther King Jr.?” they may need some details to be explained. These include:
• Baptist minister — the role of these men in the lives of their congregations
• What do “car” and “piano” indicate about their lives?
• The example of segregation on a long bus ride
• What was “nonviolent protest”? Depending on the age of your students, relate the teachings of Ghandi and Henry David Thoreau.
• Explain the Montgomery bus boycott. How is economic protest a form of nonviolent protest?
• What did it mean for a young pastor, a father of young children, to remain committed to this cause after arrests and his family’s home being bombed?


After students have read and discussed “‘I have a dream …,’” teachers of older students may wish to have students read the entire speech. Ask students to identify examples of metaphor, anaphora, repetition and parallel structure. How do literary devices assist King in conveying his message? What is his message?


Teachers of older students may also wish to study King’s letter from Birmingham jail where he had been secured on April 12, 1963. The Education For Freedom lesson plan, “A Letter Read ‘Round the World,” provides resources for studying his letter in the context of civil disobedience, civil rights activities, and the reasons King and others demonstrated in Birmingham, Ala. Pay particular attention to “1963: A Coalition of Conscience” and the “Letter From Birmingham Jail Questions and Concepts.”


Teachers may look at the other speeches and areas addressed by Martin Luther King, Jr. Craig Gordon addresses this focus in his lesson, “There’s Infinitely More to Martin Luther King, Jr. Than ‘I Have a Dream.’” 



Meet Unsung Civil Rights Heroes
Resource Graphic 

Understand Why People March
Civics, Social Studies, U.S. History

In the KidsPost article “They Stood for Change.” Marylou Tousignant provides younger students with the social, legal and economic context for the March on Washington. Before reading the article, teachers may explain to students the Emancipation Proclamation and why President Lincoln determined it was needed. After they have read the article, ask students to find examples of segregation and civil rights milestones. Why are they “milestones”?


Explain integration. Why was President John F. Kennedy, in the executive branch, calling on Congress, in the legislative branch, to pass a civil rights bill? Why was a “big rally” planned for August 28 in D.C.? [Note: August 28 was the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the day eight years before that 14-year-old Emmett Till was lynched in Mississippi (1955).]


Jonathan Yardley in the August 25, 2013, Outlook section article, “The lost motive behind the march,” reviews The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights by William P. Jones. Older students will get the University of Wisconsin history teacher’s perspective on the historic demonstration and what brought these groups together. Since this is a review, students also get veteran journalist Yardley’s evaluation of the book.


Reveal Meaning in Sign, Banners and Photographs
Art, English, Civics, Social Studies, U.S. History
One cannot look at photographs and videos of the March without seeing marchers carrying placards, wearing buttons and waving banners. This activity asks students to take a closer look at those images. Give students “Posters and Placards.” This activity concludes with students designing their own posters.


Interview a March Participant
Civics, Journalism, Media Arts, Social Studies, U.S. History, U.S. Government
As Courtland Milloy wrote in his column, “Let’s recall unsung heroes of the civil rights movement,” the march was the expression of many people. Milloy writes, “But make no mistake about it: The gathering in Washington 50 years ago wasn’t just about one man’s dream.”


Give students “Where Were They?” to read and listen to the stories behind two photographs taken on August 28, 1963. “Remembering the March on Washington, 50 years later” gives the story of Kathleen Johnson then and now.


Show students pictures of the more than 250,000 people gathered on the Mall. Some who came had been beaten, imprisoned or badgered for wanting to vote, to take any seat at a luncheon counter or bus, or to get an education. Some had been involved in voter registration, church rebuilding or reporting the real story. Some were Park Service employees, others were there to be sure the demonstration remained peaceful. Some may be the grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors and older acquaintances of your students.


Teachers might invite someone who participated in the March to speak to your classes. This could be used as training for students to take notes, to form questions and to write about another person. Be sure to ask permission to tape and photograph the speaker.


Students could be assigned to find and interview someone who was at the March. Review the “Where Were They?” assignment in which personal photographs are used to stimulate discussion and to get the story.  If the interviews are taped, these could form a video archives. Footage could be used by teams of students to prepare a mini-documentary on the March on Washington.


Malloy states, “Missing from the spotlight, however, will be the legions of everyday heroes who never received the recognition they deserved. Most are no longer among us. But many still are. Until we know more about them, we’ll never know what the march was really about.” Your students will find those people.


Meet John Lewis
English, Civics, Government, Speech, Social Studies, U.S. History
When the 50-year anniversary week was planned, John Lewis, the only surviving speaker from 1963 would address those who gathered. As a college student he had been a Freedom Rider, beaten and jailed numerous times; he became leader of SNCC; he was the firebrand youngest speaker on August 28, 1963. When he spoke in 2013, he was a member of Congress. Introduce students to a child of the cotton fields of Georgia who was inspired to seek rights for others. Meet him through his speeches and graphic memoir, March: Book One. A teacher resource,“More Than a Memoir: John Lewis’s March," is provided. 

Read About Martin Luther King, Jr.

Turn a Point
Civics, Goverrnment, Social Studies, U.S. History

The Newseum Institute shares “Civil Rights: Turning Points” to focus on “an event (or set of events) that, had it unfolded differently, would have changed the way history played out.” This lesson plan provides most of the material teachers need; the remaining material is available online in the free module on the Newseum Digital Classroom


 “Making a Change” gives teachers tools to explore the civil rights movement through the role of the First Amendment in facilitating change. The 50th anniversary of the March on Washington is part of a new exhibit, “Make Some Noise: Students and the Civil Rights Movement.”


Through a partnership with The Washington Post and WTOP, teachers in the D.C. metropolitan area can bring their classes to the Newseum at no charge. This includes a class in the Learning Center. 


Make Demands
Civics, Government, Social Studies, U.S. History

The aspirations of the March on Washington and civil rights were encapsulated in ten demands. Students can hear the program at the Lincoln Memorial recorded by Educational Radio Network. Deputy Director of the March Bayard Rustin reads the ten demands. 
• Why were the demands read and response sought?
• Categorize the demands
• For whom were the demands made?

At the conclusion of the reading of the ten demands, March director and organizer A. Phillip Randolph asks all present at the Lincoln Memorial and along the Reflecting Pool to stand and affirm pledges that include: “I pledge that I will join and support all actions undertaken in good faith in accord with the time-honored Democratic tradition of non-violent protest, of peaceful assembly, and petition, and of redress through the courts and the legislative process.” In what ways does this pledge affirm American values?


Students may also read and listen to the benediction given by the Rev. Benjamin E. Mays, President of Moorehouse College. Analyze the benediction as a prayer, a reinforcement of the demands and a call to action.

Resource Graphic 
In The Know 
 Assembly  Memoir
Boycott Non-violence
Civil Petition
Civil Disobedience Promissory note
Civil Rights Protest songs
Desegregation Racial
Equal treatment Redress
Grievances Segregation
Integration Separate but equal
Law and order Sit-in
March Social gospel

ANSWERS. Signs and Banners
Two kinds of signs will be carried in the March:

1. Signs of Identification: These signs may be made and carried only by groups that fall into one of the following categories:
a.     religious groups
b.     labor unions and boides
c.     fraternal organizations
d.     sponsoring civil rights organizations and their affiliates

   Groups in these four categories may put signs or streamers of identification on their buses as well. All other groups may identify their bus only with signs or streamers reading MARCH ON WASHINGTON FOR JOBS AND FREEDOM, AUGUST 28, 1963.

2. Slogans: All slogans carried in this March will be designed exclusively by the National Committee and will be distributed at the Washington Monument.

 Source: Organizing Manual No. 2, Final Plans for the March on Washington.

District of Columbia Public Schools Academic Content Standards 

U.S. Government. Students evaluate and take and defend positions on the scope and limits of rights and obligations as democratic citizens, the relationships among them, and how they are secured.

1. Discuss the meaning and importance of each of the rights guaranteed under the Bill of Rights and how each is secured (e.g., freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, petition and privacy).

2. Explain how economic rights are secured and their importance to the individual and to society (e.g., the right to acquire, use, transfer, and dispose of property, right to choose one’s work, right to join or not join labor unions, copyright and patent).

5. Describe the reciprocity between rights and obligations, that is, why enjoyment of one’s rights entails respect for the rights of others. (Grade 12, Rights and Responsibilities of Citizens, 12.8)


English. Relate primary source documents (nonliterary) to the historical events of their time. (Informational Text, Expository Text, 11.IT-E.6)


District of Columbia Academic Content Standards are found at http://dc.gov/DCPS/In+the+Classroom/What+Students+Are+Learning/Learning+....

Maryland Academic Content Standards 

Economics. Describe the economic opportunities and obstacles faced by different individuals and groups of people before and after the Civil War. (4.0 Topic A, Indicator 4, Objective c.)


Visual Arts. Analyze the application of the elements of art and principles of design in artistic exemplars and personal artworks. (Grade 8, Perceiving and Responding: Aesthetic Education, Indicator 3)


Reading. Analyze text features to facilitate understanding of informational texts.

a) Analyze print features that contribute to meaning

b) Analyze graphic aids that contribute to the text

e) Analyze online features that contribute to meaning (Grade 7, Comprehension of Informational Text, Topic A, Indicator 2)


Maryland Academic Standards are found at http://mdk12.org/assessments/vsc/eurl.axd/f032a8c9fcebc949b1e9745b5f0017b1/.

Virginia Academic Content Standards 

U.S. History. The student will demonstrate skills for historical and geographical analysis and responsible citizenship, including the ability to
a) analyze and interpret primary and secondary source documents to increase understanding of events and life in United States history from 1865 to the present. 
d) interpret ideas and events from different historical perspectives. (United States History: 1865 to the Present, Skills, USII.1)


U.S. History. The student will demonstrate knowledge of the economic, social, and political transformation of the United States and the world between the end of World War II and the present by
d) describing how the changing patterns of society, including expanded educational and economic opportunities for military veterans, women, and minorities. (The United States Since World War II, USII.8)


U. S. History. The student will demonstrate knowledge of the key domestic and international issues during the second half of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries by
a) examining the Civil Rights Movement and the changing role of women;
c) identifying representative citizens from the time period who  have influenced America scientifically, culturally, academically, and economically. (The United States Since World War II, USII.9)


Civics. The student will demonstrate knowledge of citizenship and the rights, duties, and responsibilities of citizens by
b) describing the First Amendment freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition, and the rights guaranteed by due process and equal protection of the laws;
e) evaluating how civic and social duties address community needs and serve the public good. (CE.3)


Visual Arts. The student will identify the uses and impact of persuasive techniques (e.g., selection of images, design, type, media) in print and contemporary media (Art History and Cultural Context, 7.12)


Visual Arts. The student will examine and discuss social, political, economic, and cultural factors that influence works of art and design (Art History and Cultural Context, AII.13)



Virginia Standards of Learning are found at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.


Common Core Standards 

Literacy in History/Social Studies

Key Ideas and Details. Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources. (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.1)


Key Ideas and Details. Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions. (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.2)


Craft and Structure. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.4)


Integration of Knowledge and Ideas. Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts. (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.7)


Integration of Knowledge and Ideas. Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text. (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.7)


Integration of Knowledge and Ideas. Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources. (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.9)


Literacy In English Language Arts

Comprehension and Collaboration. Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation. (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.8.2)


Common Core Academic Standards are found at http://dc.gov/DCPS/In+the+Classroom/What+Students+Are+Learning/DCPS+Comm...