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Free civil rights programs using presidential primary sources

Now through March, the Presidential Primary Sources Project (PPSP), a partnership involving the National Park Service, U.S. Presidential Libraries and Museums and other cultural and historic organizations, and the Internet2 community, offer an exciting series of free programs for students.

Designed for grades 6 through 12, the programs created by ten historic sites and libraries, use selected primary source documents, to explore how various presidential administrations influenced the civil rights issues of their day.

While up to ten educational sites will be selected for live interaction, each program with be live streamed and archived for on-demand viewing.

Here’s the schedule:

John F. Kennedy, Dallas and the Civil Rights Movement: Discover how President Kennedy’s legacy continued to have an effect on the Dallas Civil Rights Movement after his death in 1963.  Through speeches, photographs, oral history testimony, and documents in the Museum’s collection, discover how the Dallas story is connected to the national struggle for equality. Students can draw conclusions about how the movement plays a role in their lives today.

President Truman and Civil Rights: President Truman served in the military during World War I. Truman’s experience as a soldier gave him respect for soldiers.  He was outraged when he heard African American World War II veterans were being mistreated shortly after coming back home in 1945 and 1946, especially in the southern states. This presentation will examine primary sources from the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum and evaluate Truman’s response to the mistreatment of African American veterans.

The Roosevelts and Race in the 1930s and 40s: Despite overwhelming support from the African American electorate, FDR’s fear of losing the support of long-serving southern Democrats in Congress kept him from becoming a champion of civil rights.This session will explore the Roosevelt record on race by highlighting three specific events: Mrs. Roosevelt’s 1939 resignation from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR); Executive Order 8802, which ended discrimination in the defense industries; and the creation of the all-black 99th Pursuit Squadron, the “Tuskegee Airmen.”

Civil Rights and the Lincoln Memorial: In honor of the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Second Inauguration, we would like students to use Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address as a starting point for a conversation about Lincoln’s views and what he hoped for the country with the ending of the Civil War.  We hope to use this speech as a way to begin looking at the legacy of Lincoln and his memorial, and what the memorial has meant through the years in the context of civil rights.

Jimmy Carter: Champion for Human Rights: Students will explore how growing up in a small, rural, culturally diverse community in Southwest Georgia during the Great Depression helped shape the life, character, values and ultimately the political policies of Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize winner.   President Carter has been an untiring champion of human rights, and through the use of photographs, oral history and documents in the museum’s collection, students will draw conclusions of how they, too, can make a difference locally, nationally, and internationally.

Ulysses S. Grant: A President Committed to Civil Rights: Students will have the opportunity to examine President Ulysses S. Grant’s actions relative to the rights of the newly freed African-Americans.  Topics discussed will include his support for the 15th Amendment and use of federal troops to quell the Ku Klux Klan in the South.

Segregation and a Controversial Tea Party at the White House: In 1929, First Lady Lou Hoover invited Jessie DePriest, wife of African American Congressmen Oscar DePriest, to a White House tea party.  The political and social ramifications were intense – some letters even called for the lynching and impeachment of the First Lady.  This program will discuss segregation and the political ramifications of the DePriest tea. The program will draw from Herbert and Lou Hoover’s papers, letters from the public, oral history interviews, memoirs from White House staff, newspapers, and political cartoons.   Teachers can request access to all of the primary source materials, summative assessments, and lesson plans, which are digitized and in a Google folder.

Woodrow Wilson and the League of Nations: Woodrow Wilson served as our 28th President from 1913 to 1921, a time of great challenges and changes regarding civil and human rights.   President Wilson received the Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership in establishing the League of Nations at the end of World War I.  The establishment of the League of Nations laid the foundation for the modern vision of global human rights.  However, The League of Nations generated controversy.  After a great national debate, ultimately the United States decided not to join the League.  Only after World War II was the United States persuaded to join the United Nations, the successor to the League of Nations. The Wilson era saw many other events that affected civil and human rights, including the growth of the American labor movement, the institutionalization of racial segregation, the “Great Migration” of agricultural workers from the South to Northern cities, the restriction of civil rights during WWI, and the assimilation of a large and varied immigrant population. In his time, President Wilson framed many of the questions about civil and human rights that our nation continues to address today

President William Jefferson Clinton: Civil Rights Lessons from the Cassidys: Through an interactive presentation, we will engage students in the stories of President Clinton’s childhood that shaped his views on race relations that ultimately led to legislation passed through his tenure in the White House.

 Abraham Lincoln: Naturally Anti-Slavery: This program will demonstrate how Abraham Lincoln’s lifelong view of slavery was shaped by his Kentucky roots.  The presentation will include primary sources and interactive activities to explore Lincoln’s enduring legacy as the “Great Emancipator.”

Please spread the word!

Program registration (sign up for live participation)

Live Stream (no registration required)

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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