Smithsonian

Civil Rights

This section is intended to supplement the curricula, textbooks, and materials you currently use for lessons on the civil rights struggle. The teacher-developed resources in the section will enhance the classroom experience for both you and your students.

Explore the variety of teaching strategies and guidelines, lesson plans and document-based questions (DBQs), and information about museum objects and other primary sources. You might get started by showing the video, in which Smithsonian curators examine a photograph of civil rights leader Medgar Evers. You can then help the students examine other historic photographs.

The lesson plans and DBQs are organized by grade level. The DBQ primary sources can stand alone in DBQ exercises. Images of the primary sources are independent of any extensive explanatory information, so that the images can be used as handouts.

Click on the links at right side of this page to find:

  • A middle school mini-DBQ on the impact of Brown v. Board of Education (1965–present)
  • A high school DBQ on Brown (1965–present)
  • An elementary school lesson plan on the story of Rosa Parks
  • An elementary lesson on school desegregation