Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Using Primary Documents to Examine the Montgomery Bus Boycott

By Margaret Duncan

Living in Metropolitan Atlanta, I am always struck by the depth of knowledge my students have about the Civil Rights Movement.  It is a regional bias—students have grown up in the heart of the movement and many have family that have a personal connection to the time period.  All can easily tell you who Martin Luther King, Jr, is, as well as Rosa Parks.  Although they are aware of the cultural icons and history of the Civil Rights Movement, it is still necessary to educate students on all aspects of the movement.  While many know Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, most have no idea about the Supreme Court case that ended segregation on buses.  As a teacher, it is important that I teach students to understand the significant role the Supreme Court and the 14th Amendment played in the movement.

So, what caused Rosa Park’s courageous stand and the resulting Montgomery bus boycott to be so important to the 1950s civil rights movement?  On the city buses of Montgomery, Alabama, the front 10 seats were permanently reserved for white passengers.  Under city law, anyone not obeying the bus segregation law was subject to arrest.  In order for students to learn more, resources from the National Archives Southeast Region can be used to study Browder v. Gayle, a case that involved racial segregation of public buses, and in which would later rule that such a law was unconstitutional.
Rosa Parks Arrest Record

For many students, Rosa Parks' civil disobedience on a bus in 1955 was unquestionably the event that galvanized the African American activist community into organizing a successful boycott of the Montgomery City bus system. They blur the distinction between the bus boycott and believe it was the boycott that led to the desegregation of buses.  However, it is important that students know that a number of brave, mostly unheralded African American women in Montgomery refused to yield their bus seats to white patrons months before Rosa Parks' actions on December 1, 1955.

Four women in particular: Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, Claudette Colvin and Mary Louise Smith who served as plaintiffs in the legal action challenging Montgomery's segregated public transportation system. Their case, Browder v. Gayle is the case that a district court and, eventually, the U.S. Supreme Court would use to strike down segregation on buses.  The specific legal question before the court was whether the segregation of the Whites and African Americans on so-called "privately" owned buses operated by the City of Montgomery violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

On June 19, 1956, the three-judge panel ruled that Montgomery segregation codes "deny and deprive plaintiffs and other Negro citizens similarly situated of the equal protection of the laws and due process of law secured by the Fourteenth Amendment."  The court essentially decided that the precedent of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) could be applied to Browder. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the decision in December 1956.  With the nation's highest court now on their side, the victorious African American community in Montgomery ended the bus boycott.

Resources that you can obtain through the National Archives to teach Browder v Gayle and the Montgomery Bus Boycott include:
  • Transcript for Browder v. Gayle
  • District Court Information and Decision
  • Copy of 14th Amendment
  • Montgomery City Bus Laws/Alabama State Segregation Law
  • Legal Requirements concerning Segregation
  • Supreme Court Summary of Browder v. Gayle
  • Order and Writ of Injunction
  • Statement of the Case
  • Notice of Appeal to Supreme Court
  • Supreme court Decision
  • Rosa Parks’ Fingerprint, Arrest and Diagram of Bus
  • Flyer “To The Montgomery Public”
  • Hoover Presidential Library Summary about Rosa Parks

 For more on Rosa Parks and National Archives Teaching with Documents 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Museums that Educators Love: Mystic Seaport

            Are you looking for unique materials and sources to bring to your classroom? Do you want your students to use artifacts to explore history?   We are always on the lookout a great museum to connect to our classrooms. Mystic Seaport, The Museum of America and the Sea is a museum where you can make a great classroom connection.

Why would an Educator want to visit Mystic Seaport?

Located in Mystic, Connecticut, Mystic Seaport tells the story of America and the Sea. The history of life in the United States is the tale of the relationship between man and the water. “If you or your ancestors traveled here anytime between the melting of the ice bridge and about 1960, you came by water,” John Boudreau, a member of the Museum’s Education Department said. “Put simply, the story of America is the story of America and the Sea. They’re inseparable.”

  Mystic Seaport uses a variety of experiences and programs to share its collection of more than a million artifacts with the public.  In Mystic, the history of America and the sea is an adventure.  Mystic Seaport has combined preservation, and unique experiences to share their collection with you.

How can you connect with Mystic Seaport?

            Mystic Seaports uses both traditional program and virtual programing to connect with the Educators. Traditional methods include visits, in-school programs and field trips is you are in the vicinity. 

Virtual programming includes a robust website with online collections and options for a virtual visit.  Mystic Seaport for Educators, is a dynamic and accessible website for Educators. Artifacts and documents, and maps have from the Museum’s collection have been digitized and enhanced with audio recordings, transcripts, and interactive features to create engaging opportunities for the study of history, making them appropriate resources for Educators to use themselves, or as a great base of primary sources for students The resources cover everything from whaling to immigration, and new content is added every year, making it an ever-expanding resource!

 The Museum also offers Virtual Education Programs, which are the next step in connecting with the collections at Mystic Seaport. The museum uses Skype and state-of-the-art technology in their own production studio to showcase artifacts in the collection and discuss what it means to be a curator with schools across the country, from Minnesota to the Northeast. “It’s a pretty incredible set-up,” Boudreau said. “We have a green screen and multiple cameras, which allows us to examine artifacts in detail with students. In a lot of cases, they can get closer to the artifacts with a virtual program than they could in person!”

   Virtual Education Programs can be tailored to fit your curriculum, and offer plenty of opportunities for working with primary sources, making abstract history suddenly very tangible. It’s also a great opportunity to learn about how and why museums preserve the past. For more information about the Virtual Education Programs, visit http://www.mysticseaport.org/learn/k-12-programs/virtual-programs .

What the Histocrats love about Mystic Seaport?

Mystic Seaport is an institution already making strong connections with Educators. The Mystic Seaport Education Community is a robust that includes educators, families and students. They have ongoing collaboration with educators that they openly share.  Community members are involved in Mystic Seaport projects. It is exciting to see collaboration among both groups.  The Mystic Seaport for Educators Summer Fellowship even allows educators to come work at the Museum for a week during the summer on a research project for the website. The Fellowship includes behind-the-scenes access to the Museum, an opportunity to work with artifacts first-hand, and even a field trip! (Email john.boudreau@mysticseaport.org for details.) This is a superb example of how museums and educators can support each other in engaging the public in the study of the past.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Choice Menus in High School: Reconstruction

By Nina Kendall                      
                   Choice  boards a strategy employed well at the elementary school level. They are used with less frequency or success in high schools. Below is one example of how this strategy can be used at the high school level if you are interested in incorporating more student choice and voice in class.

The plan for students to learn about Reconstruction is detailed below based on US History Georgia Performance Standard 10. In this standard students are to identify legal, political, and social dimensions of Reconstruction. Each section of the work is based on a stand in the standard. This was designed for students to build on their learning style and provide them with choices to encourage engagement. The rubric is simple and focuses on the depth of knowledge demonstrated in the work. As this would not be the first unit, students would have already had practice with analyzing documents and using subject area vocabulary as part of the coursework.

Reconstruction: Creating a New America Student Sheet
Standard: SSUSH10- The student will identify legal, political, and social dimensions of Reconstruction.

Directions: Complete at least one activity from each of the rows. You should do at least one activity that reflects your dominant intelligence. Activities in row 2 and 3 can be done individually or with a partner.

Analyze 1 cartoon about presidential reconstruction using the requirements provided.

Use a Venn Diagram to Compare and contrast Presidential Reconstruction with Radical Republican Reconstruction and write a summary paragraph.
Create a chart that lists the major components of each of the plans for Reconstruction.
What did former slaves work and hope for in this period?

How did the Freedman’s Bureau both help and hurt the efforts to Reconstruct the South? Express using I-statements.
Investigate the growth of African American music of this period. How does it represent both progress and challenges in this period?
Explain the ups and downs African Americans experienced based on the primary sources and data provided. What other data would help you illustrate progress?
Analyze the History Tunes Reconstruction Song.
Create annotations that show the economic, economic, and legal domains of Reconstruction.

Go To:
Create 3 faces that express reaction to these amendments. Use speech bubbles to explain what each amendment allows and the person’s reaction. Label the person as representative of a major group in this period.
Complete the activity and explain how the acts described are representative of one of the Civil War Amendments.
Analyze cartoon 4 with at least 5 annotations. What does this cartoon suggest about America’s commitment to its founding ideals in this period?

What laws helped and hurt the various groups in the South? Discuss with your partner.
What did Thaddeus Stevens and Andrew Johnson argue about? What does this show about support for reconstruction in the North?

Who would “wave the bloody shirt?” How did this impact the progress of Reconstruction? Write your response as a short stump speech and deliver it as closing for class one day.
Use this information to explain how politics ends reconstruction. Your explanation can be:
·         written as a paragraph
·         completed as a cause and effect diagram
·         expressed on a winners/losers score report.

The rubric below will be used to assess all 6 rows. Students must earn at least a 12 to proceed to the final activity.

Does the work demonstrate knowledge?
Does the work illustrate the student’s internalized understanding?
Are multiple perspectives reflected in the body of the work?
Is the work historically accurate?

Recommendations for Improvement

Follow standard English language and grammar conventions.

Make original choices to express yourself.

Organize your thoughts before writing.

Complete all parts of the assignment.

Use care when completing your work.

Proofread your work.

Final Activity (with a partner):
You will read Eric Foner’s discussion of Reconstruction. Was this truly America’s Second Revolution? Were the founding ideals forwarded?  Prepare for a debate regarding Foner’s work. Create position statements for both sides of the debate.  Use your work to support your position. Annotate your statements with what you have learned. Put the number of each row as the annotation. The rubric above will be used for your position statements that you will turn in after the debate.

You will be assigned a position the day of the debate and take directions from your position leader.

 The grade will be the result of individual notes and participation on the team.