Living the Legacy Civil Rights Lessons

Explore identity and activism through 16 lesson plans highlighting the stories of Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. Investigate the motivations and experiences of American Jewish activists, experiment with models for civil disobedience and community organizing, and unpack the complex relationship between Jews, African Americans, and social justice activism.

Unit 1, Lesson 1 - Exploring My Identity

Explore the complexities of our own identities, and how these identities shape the way we view and act in the world.

Unit 1, Lesson 2 - How Does My Identity Inform My Actions?

Consider how Jewish experiences and values – in both conscious and unconscious ways – informed the actions of Jews in the Civil Rights Movement, and inform our own allegiances and behaviors.

Unit 1, Lesson 3 - Jews and the Civil Rights Movement: the Whys and Why Nots

Assume the roles of Southern Jews participating in a Temple board meeting on whether or not to support Northern Jewish activists staging a protest in town.

Unit 1, Lesson 4 - Power, Privilege, and Responsibility

Analyze how power and privilege shape our relationships and involvement in social justice and activism, using sources including clips from the film Driving Miss Daisy.

Unit 2, Lesson 1 - Moments of Personal Resistance

Examine how individuals take stands against racism and injustice using an essay by Grace Paley and three other short vignettes of individual protest.

Unit 2, Lesson 2 - De facto segregation in the North: Skipwith vs. NYC Board of Education

Investigate the dynamics of segregation in northern schools through a New York City court case ruled on by Judge and Jewish activist Justine Wise Polier.

Unit 2, Lesson 3 - Civil Disobedience: Freedom Rides

Discover the story of one young Jewish Freedom Rider and Gandhi's principles of civil disobedience, and prepare your own civil disobedience training video.

Unit 2, Lesson 4 - Community Organizing I: Freedom Summer

Explore the role of community organizing, Jewish values, and moral conviction in the lives of young civil rights activists as you imagine yourself a participant in Mississippi Freedom Summer.

Unit 2, Lesson 5 - Community Organizing II: Wednesdays in Mississippi

Encounter a little known story of women collaborating across geographic, racial, and religious boundaries through documentary clips of Wednesdays in Mississippi activists.

Unit 2, Lesson 6 - Jewish clergy in the Civil Rights Movement

Unpack the roles, motivations, and challenges of Southern and Northern rabbis during the Civil Rights Movement.

Unit 2, Lesson 7 - The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Use images, artifacts, and audio clips to develop a more nuanced understanding of the March on Washington.

Unit 3, Lesson 1 - Jews and African Americans: Siblings in Oppression?

Explore and interrogate the identification between Jews and African-Americans against the backdrop of the Passover seder.

Unit 3, Lesson 2 - Growing tensions I: Black-Jewish Relations

Analyze how underlying rifts in the relationship between African Americans and Jews brought these groups into more overt conflict in the late 1960s, with a focus on the Ocean Hill-Brownsville school crisis and a poetry slam activity.

Unit 3, Lesson 3 - Growing tensions II: Affirmative Action

Assess Jewish attitudes towards Affirmative Action as an example of how individuals and communities try to manage competing priorities.

Unit 3, Lesson 4 - Moving Inward: bringing liberation movements into the Jewish community

Act out, through tableaux vivants, the ways Jews took what they had learned from the Civil Rights Movement and other liberation movements and used these insights to change the Jewish community.

Unit 3, Lesson 5 - Civil Rights and Social Justice Today

Consider what contemporary civil rights and social justice issues matter to us today, and how Jews and African Americans determine their priorities and responsibilities to effect social change.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Living the Legacy Civil Rights Lessons." (Viewed on May 24, 2019) <https://jwa.org/teach/livingthelegacy/civilrights/lessons>.

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