Student Tools:



[Warm-up/Motivation] [Guided Practice] [Independent Practice] [Closure Assessment] [Differentiation/Modifications] [Extension Activities]

Prior to using this lesson in the classroom, read the Historiography and review the available primary source materials for this lesson by clicking on the button on the left side navigation labeled "primary sources."

The NVLP lessons are designed for both teachers who have access to the Internet and a computer with Windows Media Player (free download) and those who do not. If you do not have Internet access, you can print the materials and read the video clip transcripts.

For this lesson, your primary sources include two video interviews from the National Visionary Leadership Project about nonviolent activism during the Civil Rights Movement; Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter from a Birmingham Jail;" twenty-one images and four worksheets geared toward analyzing nonviolence as a method of social change.

Print out a selection of photographs; all of the worksheets, including the video transcripts (Worksheet 3-5); and Dr. King’s letter. Organize the material into "primary source packets" for your students. The students will be working in groups, so print enough copies so that you have one "packet" for each group. If you like, you can print different images and different transcripts so that each group does not have the same exact primary source packet.

Warm-up/Motivation [Back to top]

1) Once students are seated, direct their attention to the board and have a volunteer read the following quote aloud.

"We do not intend to wait placidly for those rights which are already legally and morally ours to be meted out to us one at a time."

Activate prior knowledge by asking them, has there ever been a time in their lives when they did not wait for something to be given to them but they went and took it? Was taking it the best decision and what was the result? Explain to them how this quote connects with yesterday's Civil Rights Movement discussion. If necessary, have students look up the definitions to any unfamiliar words and write them on the board. (See NVLP's lesson Impact of the Civil Rights Movement for more information.)

2) Clarify any vocabulary questions and then ask students to complete a think-pair-share by reflecting on the quote and answering these two questions:

  • What do you think this quote means?
  • Think about one right that you think you should have, but don't. What would
    you do to try to secure that right?

Guided Practice [Back to top]

3) Introduce the philosophy of an organized nonviolent resistance that was embraced by Martin Luther King, Jr. and the leadership of the Civil Rights Movement. (See Historiography and Impact of the Civil Rights Movement.)

4) Read aloud with the students the "Six Principles of Nonviolence" and the "Six Steps to Nonviolent Social Change." Tell the students that they are going to watch (or read) two National Visionary Leadership Project interviews. In clip 3-1, Wyatt T. Walker talks about the nonviolent activism that led to the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act; and in clip 3-2, C.T. Vivian describes how his training in the methodology of nonviolence was tested while he was in prison. Provide each student with a copy of the transcripts so that they can read them during the interview. Students should be told to take notes while the clips are played (or read).

5) Pass out copies of Worksheet 3-1, "Analyzing Nonviolence." Tell the students that they should fill it out during the discussion. Have them discuss the choice of nonviolent resistance and list possible positive and negative characteristics and/or results of nonviolent resistance as a method of social change. Ask them to think-aloud about some of the dangers associated with using nonviolence in the face of overwhelming violence.

6) At the end of the discussion, highlight the key points that were discussed. Tell the students to keep their worksheets out so that they can refer to them during the activity.

Independent Practice [Back to top]

**If possible, this lesson should take place within a computer lab so that students can access the National Visionary Leadership Project Student Site, view the photographs and video clips suggested for this lesson, read the Historiography and explore the Timeline and other video clips.

7) Introduce the students to Project C (for Confrontation), highlighting the key strategies designed by Wyatt T. Walker and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Emphasize the importance of Birmingham as a symbol of the South's opposition to racial integration and the desire of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the SCLC leadership to use Birmingham as both a test case to see what methods would be effective in the deep south and as a chance to publicize the brutality suffered by Black people at the hands of whites. Explain to the students that although Birmingham was the test case, nonviolence was being met by violence across the south.

8) Divide students into heterogeneous cooperative groups and hand them

Document 3-6, Dr. King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," as well as photographs, video transcripts and worksheets printed from the primary sources area for this lesson. Also hand out the other student worksheets for this lesson.

9) Allow groups about 20 minutes to analyze the Historiography. Tell students to discuss and record on their chart information about the use of nonviolence and its effectiveness in Birmingham.

10) Bring the students back together as a group and discuss their findings. Use their responses to have the class debate the use of nonviolence as a method of social change and its effectiveness. This discussion should be supported both by historical and by contemporary examples/situations.

Closure/Assessment [Back to top]
11) Ask students to answer individually in several well-developed paragraphs the two essential questions:

• To what extent is nonviolence a powerful tool in encouraging social change?

• What makes nonviolence an effective tool? What would make it ineffective

Students can use both historical examples from Birmingham and modern examples they generated in their discussions at the beginning and end of the lesson. If necessary, create an exemplary essay that they can use as a model.

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For more advanced students, replace the short-hand definitions of nonviolent resistance and nonviolent social change with Martin Luther King, Jr.'s accounting of his own development, "Pilgrimage to Freedom." (See for further information.)

To accommodate lower reading levels, excerpt reading materials in order to help highlight the most important passages for interpreting the events and concepts.

Extension Activities [Back to top]
1) Have students conduct a survey of classmates and teachers on the effectiveness of nonviolent social change.

2) Have students conduct oral history interviews of people alive in 1963 who either witnessed or remembered reading about and hearing about the events in Birmingham.

3) Have students read "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and compare that document (or portions of it) to the "Pilgrimage to Nonviolence." What are the similarities and differences in the two documents?

4)  If possible, go to your library and borrow the PBS series “Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Movement.” Then watch the episode on Birmingham, 1963 in class with the sound turned off. Have students construct a narrative of what they believe is happening as they watch. Later, after discussing the possibilities, watch the episode with the sound on so students can compare their answers to the actual audio.



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