A Voice to Your Rights

DONNA McCULLOUGH/The Washington Post)
Three stories of summer 2021 — creation of a federal holiday, commemoration of a city’s race massacre and a cheerleader’s Supreme Court case — provide case studies of race relations, a nation’s values and rights of students outside of the school campus.
Primary Disciplines 

How do we ascertain what a country values?


We look at its community celebrations as well as its national holidays. In June the U.S. added an 11th federal holiday — Juneteenth. What were Black communities’ celebrations of freedom from enslavement become a national awareness of the past and reminder of what still must be done as well as time to celebrate.


We shed light on its taboo topics and hasty errors that have destructive ramifications. We look at how it responds years later in its communities. As Tulsa commemorates the 100th anniversary of its race massacre of the Greenwood community, we reprint in our resource guide four different angles to examine the story. Together they give a clearer picture of what happened in Tulsa on May 31 and June 1, 1921. History teachers can put it in the larger framework of Red Summer and reparations.


We witness how it protects its children. How it nurtures the young and protects their rights as they mature, especially as technology changes how they communicate with each other. In this month’s curriculum guide we return to our YOU and YOUR RIGHTS feature to focus on the Supreme Court’s summer decision involving students’ off-campus freedom of speech.


We know a country’s values by how it gives voice to its citizens’ voices.



September 2021

Tulsa 1921
Resource Graphic 


Introduce Juneteenth
Civics, Social Studies, U.S. Government, U.S. History
Read and discuss the KidsPost article, “Juneteenth: An emancipation celebration.” Close reading and discussion questions are found in A New Federal Holiday.


Walk in Her Shoes
Character Education, Ethics, U.S. Government, U.S. History
What would inspire a person to spend years advocating for a new federal holiday or a special local celebration? Read “Meet Opal Lee, the 94-year-old activist who marched for miles to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.” Close reading and discussion questions are found in A New Federal Holiday.


How Is a Federal Holiday Created?
Civics, U.S. Government, U.S. History
Teachers might have students brainstorm a local holiday. To provide background use How Does a Day Become a Federal Holiday? See Teachers Notes for more details about federal holidays.


Additional reading is found in historian Diana Muir Appelbaum’s article, “The creation of holidays in America has always been political.”


Add Graphics to the Storytelling
Art, U.S. History, Visual Arts
Some articles are black-and-white text. Others have a photograph that captures a fraction of the event. For still others, writers and editors determine that informational graphics communicate better than words in text blocks. Use “America’s long and uneven march from slavery to freedom | Juneteenth” to illustrate the use of visuals to relate a more complete story.

Teachers might have students brainstorm stories from their campus or community. Write the lede to the story. In what ways would the story be enhanced with photographs? Of what subject? Might graphics communicate numbers, percentages and dates better than words?


Put the Pieces Together
Social Studies, U.S. Government, U.S. History, Visual Arts
Ask students to read one or more of the articles about the creation of Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Discuss responses to the questions found in A New Federal Holiday.

What influence do politics, economic conditions, current community concerns and a country’s values have in the creation of a federal or local celebration?


Compare and Contrast Ways to Relate Past and Present
Media Arts, Journalism, U.S. History, Visual Arts
In addition to learning about the history of emancipation and Juneteenth celebrations from 1865 to present, students may use Post coverage to read, evaluate, and utilize different media approaches. Students will analyze the effectiveness of three different platforms for essentially the same information:

• The e-Replica format of the June 18, 2021, article on pages A14 and A15.

• “America’s long and uneven march from slavery to freedom: Juneteenth” that is found in our resource guide.

• A Post interactive: “The joy of Juneteenth: America’s long and uneven march from slavery to freedom.”


Discussion could include

• The effectiveness of each format to convey basic information

• The choice writers and editors make when considering space available and their readers

• Use of graphics, photographs and text to create a multi-media presentation of a past event


Give students Historic Context: The Choices of Writers and Editors to guide their discovery and discussion. 


Read More About Juneteenth
English, U.S. Government, U.S. History, Visual Arts

Teachers Notes: More Ways to Convey Lessons provides suggestions and resources for additional approaches. Recent Washington Post coverage includes

All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake by Tiya Miles | image of the sack found online and with the print book review, July 11, 2021, B8

On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed  Celebration of Black American independence put into context of the history of the U.S.

• “Juneteenth brings together many celebrations, and reminders of the work still ahead

• “The joys and struggle of Juneteenth,” Post podcast

Amicus and Otherwise
Resource Graphic 



Step Back 100 Years
English, U.S. Government, U.S. History

What was life like in urban and rural American in the 1920s? If your students conduct a U.S. decades project, the readings in this section will give a reliable background on the Red Summer.


Students might be asked to focus on one territory, then state — Oklahoma — as a case study of settlement; relations with indigenous people and people of color; economic, political and social relations in the state and/or Tulsa. Have them end in 1921.



The Story Photographs Tell
Art, U.S. History, Visual Arts

KidsPost’s “100 years later: The Tulsa Race Massacre” is presented as an online slideshow with informative captions.


For the KidsPost gallery and other photographs of the 1921 actions, ask students to consider the importance of photographs as eyewitness accounts, evidence of actions and “postcards” to be sold as souvenirs.


To learn about the Tulsa historic events through photographs in more depth, go online to “The devastation of the Tulsa Race Massacre.”

Using postcards and photographs in the Library of Congress collection and contemporary photographs, the story of the Tulsa race violence and 100-year commemoration are told. The photographs are enhanced by audio testimony of three survivors who were children when fires were set, people were killed and injured and their homes invaded. From the National Museum of African American History and Culture audio collection, listen to these individuals testimony before Congress on May 19.


The text was written by DeNeen L. Brown who has done extensive research, interviews and on-site visits of the Greenwood District. On September 28, 2018, her early work on this story was published as Tulsa began planning for the 100-year commemoration of what had been a taboo subject that was not taught in schools. Read "‘They was killing black people.’"


Use a Documentary
Broadcast Journalism, English, Media Arts, U.S. History, Visual Arts

Rise Again: Tulsa and The Red Summer” is a National Geographic documentary about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and the racial violence that preceded it. Directed and produced by Dawn Porter, the film follows Oklahoma native DeNeen L. Brown as she explores Tulsa’s past that is commemorated in 2021 and reports on the search for a mass grave in the Greenwood community.


Black Wall Street and an Explosive Tulsa
Broadcast Journalism, Journalism, U.S. History

Read “His arrest sparked the Tulsa Race Massacre. Then Dick Rowland disappeared.” written by DeNeen Brown. This article may be read with the online article, “The devastation of the Tulsa Race Massacre.”


Teachers may ask students to locate when hasty assumptions and misinformation led to destruction. For example, what is the impact of a questionable newspaper account that was “proved inaccurate when Sarah Page later wrote a letter exonerating [Dick Rowland]”?


In addition, DeNeen Brown shares the backstory of how she got involved with reporting on the former Black Wall Street for The Post and her involvement with the Tulsa Race Massacre documentaries. Read “Merrill’s DeNeen Brown Reflects on Involvement With Two Upcoming Tulsa Race Massacre Documentaries.”


Where are the bodies?
Race Relations, U.S. History

The Post published “Where are the bodies from the Tulsa race massacre?” an excerpt from University of Michigan historian Scott Ellsworth’s most recent study of his hometown of Tulsa — “The Ground Breaking: An American City and Its Search for Justice.”


Before reading the essay, teachers might have students listen to the YouTube video on Scott Ellsworth’s study of his hometown’s race massacre. He has authored two books on the subject, The Ground Breaking: An American City and Its Search for Justice and Death in a Promised Land: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921.


Teachers may wish to use Covering a Centenary Commemoration. Close reading and discussing questions cover works by Brown, Ellsworth, Malveaux and Attiah.


Read a Book Review

English, U.S. History

Read and discuss with students “Pursuing painful truths, and tangible evidence, of the Tulsa race massacre,” a book review by Keisha N. Blain of Scott Ellsworth’s The Ground Breaking: An American City and Its Search for Justice.

• Do you learn why the author chose this subject?

• Do you get a sense of his style and depth?

• Does the reviewer think the book is worth your time?



Compare and Contrast Two Opinion Pieces
Composition, English, Journalism, Psychology, Social Studies

Post columnist Karen Attiah and guest commentary by civil rights law professor Suzette Malveaux are included to expand perspectives on the Tulsa commemoration. They are both based in personal experience. How do they differ in tone, theme and perspective?


Teachers may use questions from Covering a Centenary Commemoration to begin close reading discussion of the two works.


What Can Be Done 100 Years Later?
Ethics, Psychology, U.S. Government, U.S. History

To update the story with the perspective of one of the survivors, read “One of the last survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre — 107 years old — wants justice.” Viola Fletcher, who lived through the Tulsa Race Massacre a century ago, testified before Congress on May 19 on the push for reparations.


Teachers may put reparations into perspective of other citizens who have sought reparations from injustice foisted upon them. Students may search the story behind those who have sought payment (monetary or otherwise). These would include:

• Japanese-Americans who were interned during World War II

• Aleuts sent to camps in Juneau in World War II

• Jewish victims of the Holocaust

• Victims to eugenic programs and the Tuskegee experiment

• Descendants of enslaved people

• Survivors of the Rosewood (Fla.) massacre


Discussion may include

• What are reparations?

• When may reparations be given?

• What form may reparations take?

• Who should provide reparations?


Write a Commentary
English, U.S. History

Teachers may use Different Angles to Tell the Story | Tulsa Race Massacre to illustrate the different approaches that may be taken to cover one event. This concept may apply to annual events in your school such as homecoming, prom, and end-of-season sports coverage.


Teachers may ask students to write an essay on the contents of the listed works. They may also discuss topics of concern in your community. Then outline the different angles that could be taken to cover the topic for different audiences. 

Read About Your Rights



What the Supreme Court Decided About Students’ Rights
Journalism, U.S. Government, U.S. History

Reporters — as well as teachers and students who are discussing student rights — can benefit from knowing what the Supreme Court has determined to be students’ constitutionally protected rights. Give students Think Like a Reporter | Know the Student Rights Cases and the Supreme Court Decisions. Establish what judicial precedent is before moving on to the cases involving students’ rights.


This activity could be done in pairs or in teams, with each given a different case for which they will become experts. Discuss the cases with the “experts” taking the lead.

Teachers could also present situations — perhaps based on current happenings in your community or state — and ask what the Supreme Court says about this. Do students have rights that apply?


This activity could be expanded to learn the personal stories of the people who sued for their rights. An example of finding the story behind the decision is found on the Student Press Law Center website, “Then and Now: 40 years ago, Tinker and Eckhardt families solidified First Amendment rights for all students on school grounds.”


Learn About Students’ Off-Campus Speech Rights
Civics, U.S. Government, U.S. History

In the 2021 the Supreme Court heard Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. Teachers may use one of the three resources provided to give background and perspective on the case or have older students read all three to compare and contrast the approaches.


In the resource guide, you have

• Post legal reporter Robert Barnes’ “A cheerleader’s Snapchat rant leads to ‘momentous’ Supreme Court case on student speech

• Columnist George Wills’ “A cheerleader’s salty language gives the Supreme Court a chance to bolster the First Amendment

• Law professor and guest opinion writer Justin Driver’s “Why we all should want the suspended cheerleader to win her Supreme Court case


Reading and discussion questions to use with these works are provided in Snapchat. Salty Language, Suspension and the Cheerleader.


Inform Your Community
Journalism, Media Arts, U.S. Government

After students have read one or more of the articles and commentary, and have reviewed the decision of the Supreme Court, teachers could ask them to write a commentary about the Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. Supreme Court decision. Inform their school community. For this assignment, use Does the First Amendment prohibit public school officials from regulating off-campus student speech?


Perhaps, your school system has a student responsibilities and rights document. Review it. Does it have a statement about off-campus speech that needs to be updated? Be sure students include the circumstances when their off-campus speech may be regulated.


What About Social Media and Freedom of Speech?
English, Ethics, Social Studies, U.S. Government

Post columnist Jennifer Rubin ended her 2020 column, “10 rules to preserve common sense in the debate about free speech”:


8. It’s not a bad thing to have vigorous and even angry arguments about highly charged issues. Having such conversations on social media, however, will not result in civil, honest or informative debate. Indeed, platforms such as Facebook contribute mightily to the polarization and incivility that plague our public debate. Alternative forums for virtual or actual face-to-face debate are badly needed. (I’ve signed up for one of these, Persuasion, run by one of the letter’s signatories, Yascha Mounk, who — disclosure — is a friend and valued professional colleague.)

9. It is easy to say that “there are more important things to fight about” than cancel culture or suppression of speech. But the latter is a precondition to a democratic, free society that can successfully govern itself and address those problems. We can and must defend free speech at the same time we are calling out police brutality, threats to public health and systemic racism.

10. Did I mention that social media is an anathema to cordial, respectful debate?


Teachers could use this excerpt or use entire column found in the e-Replica or online formats. Discuss her ideas about social media and its limitations for civil discourse.



Post NIE Guide Editor | Carol Lange
Post NIE Guide Art Editor | Donna McCullough

Resource Graphic 
In The Know 


Related to an established set of principles governing a state; authorized by the constitution of a state or society

Federal holiday  

Holiday established and recognized by federal law. Congress creates these holidays according to the United States Code. On these days every year, all non-essential government offices close for business.


In 1870, Congress designated the first four official holidays. This gave workers in the District of Columbia paid time off on New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. In 1880, Congress included George Washington’s Birthday, and in 1885, Congress included all federal employees (not just those in D.C.) in holiday coverage. Between 1880 and 1983, Congress created six additional holidays.

Judicial precedent   

Defined in the Oxford Dictionary of Law as a “judgement or decision of a Court used as an authority for reaching the same decision in subsequent cases.” There are two different kinds of judicial precedent that exist which are authoritative and persuasive. 

  • The doctrine of judicial precedent primarily assists Courts when making decisions via previously decided case law. This certifies that certainty and consistency is being provided within the judicial system and enables a speedier judicial process to be effectuated.
Massacre  Deliberately and violently kill a large number of people; killing a number of usually helpless or unresisting human beings under circumstances of atrocity or cruelty. Related to pogrom and genocide. A mass murder may be perpetrated with the tacit or active support of a community or a group in the society in which it occurred, and usually is a single event. 
Red Summer  Term coined by James Weldon Johnson to describe the period in 1919 when more than 26 Black communities were terrorized.

The National Geographic documentary, Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer, focuses on the race riot in Oklahoma.

Rights  Legal, social and ethical principles of freedom. Human rights encompass the most basic rights and freedoms that belong to every human being from birth to death, regardless of their race, gender, religion, or ethnicity. “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”  


How Does a Day Become a Federal Holiday?

1. A public holiday recognized and established by law by the federal government of a country;

2. If you work for the federal government, you'll get ten paid holidays each year: New Year's Day, Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., Washington's Birthday (also known as President’s Day), Memorial Day, Independence Day (4th of July), Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. Non-essential federal government offices are closed and stock market trading is suspended.

3a. No. States may decide not to recognize federal holidays, but most do observe them. Only 38 states observe President’s Day. The U.S. does not have national holidays, as Congress only has constitutional authority to create holidays on the federal level. It is up to each state to decide its own legal holidays, though most recognize those Congress designates as federal holidays.

3b. Leaders or citizens in your community may not feel the person or event being recognized is significant to your community. Some communities have renamed federal holidays to reflect changing perspectives.

4. Yes. See response to question #3. States may add holidays. Answers to the second question will vary.

5. Columbus Day commemorates Christopher Columbus setting foot in the Americas. Communities with Italian heritage often have parades, picnics and concerts. Other states, such as Alaska which in 2015 renamed Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day, have taken a different perspective on this segment of America’s history. Hawaii celebrates Discovery Day, but it is not a legal holiday.

6. Days were proclaimed for the funerals of former presidents Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan to that of Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush. President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a day of mourning after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

A day of mourning after a natural disaster: A National Day of Mourning was proclaimed by President Bill Clinton for those killed in the Oklahoma City bombing and by President George Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

7-8. Answers will vary. Be sure students give specific details.

9. Answers will vary. Be sure students give specific details.

10. Answers will vary. Be sure students give specific details.

Extra Credit. In 1998, Richard Ganulin, a Jewish lawyer, initiated a lawsuit against the U.S. government. He contended that the law designating Christmas day as a legal holiday violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Ganulin based this claim on the fact that Christmas is a Christian holiday, therefore, it endorses a specific religion. In 1999, a federal district judge in Cincinnati dismissed the case. The court ruled:

“… Courts have repeatedly recognized that the Christmas holiday has become largely secularized,”

and that, “By giving federal employees a paid vacation day on Christmas, the government is doing no more than recognizing the cultural significance of the holiday.”

Ganulin appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the district court’s decision. He then appealed to the Supreme Court. The court agreed with the Sixth Circuit’s decision affirming the holiday’s constitutionality in Ganulin v. United States, 71 F. Supp. 2d 824 (S.D. Ohio 1999).

District of Columbia Public Schools Academic Content Standards 

The District of Columbia has adopted the Common Core State Standards in reading and mathematics. In addition, DCPS has adopted new learning standards in arts, health and physical education, science, social studies, technology and world languages.



Social Studies. Historical Research, Evidence and Point of View

4. Students construct and test hypotheses; collect, evaluate, and employ information from multiple primary and secondary sources; and apply it in oral and written presentations



Academic Content Standards may be found at http://osse.dc.gov/service/dc-educational-standards.


Maryland Academic Content Standards 

Political Science. The student will analyze the impact of landmark Supreme Court decisions on governmental powers, rights, and responsibilities of citizens in our changing society (1.2.1).


The Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum Content Standards can be found online at https://mdk12.msde.maryland.gov/INSTRUCTION/curriculum/ela/SiteAssets/Ho...

Virginia Academic Content Standards 

Virginia, U.S. History. The student will demonstrate economic, social, cultural and political developments in recent decades and today (VUS.15)



English. The student will read, interpret, analyze, and evaluate nonfiction texts.

a)   Analyze text features and organizational patterns to evaluate the meaning of texts.

b)   Recognize an author’s intended audience and purpose for writing.

c)   Skim materials to develop an overview and locate information.

d)   Compare and contrast informational texts for intent and content.

e)   Interpret and use data and information in maps, charts, graphs, timelines, tables, and diagrams.

f)   Draw conclusions and make inferences on explicit and implied information using textual support as evidence.

g)   Analyze and synthesize information in order to solve problems, answer questions, and generate new knowledge.

h)   Analyze ideas within and between selections providing textual evidence.

i)    Summarize, paraphrase, and synthesize ideas, while maintaining meaning and a logical sequence of events, within and between texts.  (10.5)


Academic Content Standards may be found at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/index.shtml.

Common Core Standards 

English Language Arts/Informational Text. Analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text (e.g., how ideas influence individuals or events, or how individuals influence ideas or events. (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.7.3)


English Language Arts/Reading Informational Text. Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose. (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.6)


English Language Arts/Reading Informational Text. Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expression their own clearly and persuasively.  (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.1)