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Addressing Charlottesville in the Classroom

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August 18, 2017

Charlottesville is a town known for its rolling blue hills and that hometown feel in the middle of a small city. Over this past weekend, Charlottesville made headlines for something else entirely: a clash that erupted into a tragic outcome. Now, teachers nationwide are dealing with the troubling and necessary question: how to explain to students what happened and why?  

We have gathered a list of educational resources that speak to the various topics at the forefront of the current news cycle: from the history of the Ku Klux Klan and the Civil Rights Movement, to background on why the Confederate Flag is such a divisive symbol. We hope these resources will spark a fruitful and respectful discussion in your classroom that can help move our country towards unity, empathy, and compassion in the place of racism and hate.

Addressing Hate in Your Classroom & Community

A Class Divided 1: The Daring Lesson | Grades 3 - 12
When the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in April 1968, Jane Elliott taught her third-grade class a daring lesson on discrimination. The third time she taught the lesson, cameras were present. In this video, you'll watch as Elliott divides her class into two groups – those with blue eyes and those with brown eyes – and discriminates against those with brown eyes.

Not In Our Town | Grades 6-12 
Not in Our Town is a film that highlights communities working together to stop hate. The videos and connected lesson guides and activities highlight and celebrate people who have developed creative anti-bias programs and responses in their communities.

Symbols of Hate 

The Complicated History of the Confederate Flag: The Good Stuff: Time Capsule | Grades 7 - 12
In this video, students will learn about the Confederate flag, its origins on the Civil War battlefield, and what it means to citizens today. Utilizing video, discussion questions, and teaching tips, students can explore the history of the flag, what it symbolizes, and why it's such a divisive symbol. 

Klansville USA: The Formation of the Ku Klux Klan | Grades 8 -12 
Learn about the formation of the Ku Klux Klan in the aftermath of the Civil War in this video adapted from American Experience: Klansville USA. 

The Ongoing Fight for Civil Rights

Slavery by Another Name: Law and Order | Grades 9-12
This educational unit focuses on the laws and statutes enforced by Southern states after the Civil War to assert control over newly freed blacks; these include the Black Codes, vagrancy statutes, pig laws, and Jim Crow laws. Students will analyze the laws and their impacts on blacks in the decades after the Civil War. Finally, students will make contemporary connections between state statutes and legislation that potentially impact civil rights. 

Civil Rights: Then and Now | Grades 9 -12
While students today may think of the Civil Rights Movement as part of the distant past, it's clear that many of the problems that fueled the fight are still with us. This collection lends context to the events and leaders that defined the first three decades of the Civil Rights Movement, and captures the issues and activists involved in the struggle today.


Jessie Harjo

Jessie Harjo Education Staff

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