How did the black civil rights movement influence other activist movements of the late 1960s and 1970s?
Bayard Rustin—a visionary yet largely unknown civil rights strategist, organizer and activist—is the subject of a compelling new documentary premiering on PBS on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, January 20). This guide is intended to introduce Rustin and encourage viewing and discussion of Brother Outsider, a 90-minute film produced and directed by filmmakers Nancy Kates and Bennett Singer.
In this lesson, students will examine primary sources to understand how Bayard Rustin’s identity shaped and influenced his actions as a Civil Rights leaders. They will participate in whole group discussions and small group work to deepen their knowledge on who Bayard Rustin is and how his identity as a gay man affected his life as an advocate. They will demonstrate their learning by writing an argumentative essay answering the inquiry question.
In this lesson, students will familiarize themselves with the concept of intersectionality — how intersecting identities and oppressions shape perspectives and experiences. Through the close reading and discussion of the article “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference” featured in the influential book Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde, students will think critically about how multiple identities and systems of oppressions impact the relationships people have with each other as well as with institutions. Audre Lorde, Black lesbian poet and feminist writer, signed a contract with The Crossing Press on November 19, 1982 to publish her monumental book Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Sister Outsideris celebrated as a historic piece of literature exploring the intersections of race, sexuality, gender, poverty, and politics.
In this lesson, students will analyze the purpose of the Briggs Initiative (Prop 6), which was on the California general election ballot in 1978. The referendum sought to ban gays and lesbians, and potentially supporters of gays and lesbians, from working in California’s public schools. Then, students will evaluate voices of those opposed to the initiative by reading posters and flyers. Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official, was a key political figure that led the debate against people like Senator John Briggs and Anita Bryant. Additionally, the Briggs Initiative was challenged by other marginalized groups including African Americans, feminists, and unionists. Finally, students will conduct a close reading of Harvey Milk’s speech given after the defeat of the Briggs Initiative on June 25, 1978 at California’s Gay Freedom Day. The lesson may take 90-120 minutes depending on the reading level of students and the language support needed. To divide the lesson into two days, it is suggested that the close read be done on day 2.
This lesson addresses the effects of the Civil War on multiple populations. Students learn about the unprecedented scale of death and destruction, and what that meant for the country that needed to rebuild and heal at the end of the war. They also study the experiences of Americans who did not serve as soldiers. The varied roles of women, African Americans, and the people who cared for the wounded all provide students with an up-close and complex understanding of the meaning of war. Students also learn about longer term consequences of the war, including Lincoln’s assassination, as well as the physical destruction of much of the south. Moreover, they will come away with a picture of how warfare, and the country in general would never look the same after 1865 as the federal government took a vast new size and shape. This lesson also encourages students to understand the importance of perspective and complexity. It asks them to consider different people’s experiences and synthesize this information to make interpretations about the significance of the war. Specific literacy strategies help students make sense of multiple primary sources.