Living the Story: The Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky
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Lesson Plan: Issues in Public Education During the Kentucky Civil Rights Era

Suggested Grade Level

High school

This lesson could be taught within a unit on history, the civil rights movement, or government.

Academic Expectations

2.14 Students understand the democratic principles of justice, equality, responsibility, and freedom and apply them to real-life situations.
2.15   Students can accurately describe various forms of government and analyze issues that relate to the rights and responsibilities of citizens in a democracy.
2.16   Students observe, analyze, and interpret human behaviors, social groupings, and institutions to better understand people and the relationships among individuals and among groups.
2.17   Students interact effectively and work cooperatively with the many ethnic and cultural groups of our nation and world.
2.20   Students understand, analyze, and interpret historical events, conditions, trends, and issues to develop historical perspective.

Program of Studies

  • Use a variety of tools (e.g., primary and secondary sources, data, and artifacts) to explore the interpretive nature of the history of the United States from Reconstruction to the present.
  • Examine the impacts of significant individuals and groups.
  • Analyze the social, political, and economic characteristics of various eras in the history of the United States.
  • Recognize how the U.S. Constitution, significant legislation, and landmark Supreme Court decisions have impacted American society.
  • Examine rights and responsibilities of individuals in American society and the development of democratic principles (e.g., liberty, justice, equality, individual human dignity, and the rule of law).
  • Analyze origins and consequences of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination.
  • Examine the social transformations reflected in the struggles for racial and gender equity and the extension of civil liberties.
  • Recognize the roles social institutions (e.g., family, religion, education, government, and economy) have played in American life.

Core Content

  • SS-H-1.1.3
  • SS-H-1.2.1
  • SS-H-1.2.2
  • SS-H-2.2.1
  • SS-H-2.3.1
  • SS-H-5.2.6

Objective of Lesson

  • To examine social, cultural, and legal issues in public education during the Kentucky civil rights era.


The students will write one- to two-page papers reflecting on specific things that affected them in group discussions. The students will use the vocabulary terms introduced by the teacher to describe present-day issues involving prejudice and discrimination in education and school activities. They may also write reports on their historical research and oral history interviews.

Materials Needed for Lesson

  • Videos:
    Living the Story: The Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky
    Eyes on the Prize (story of the national struggle; PBS; multiple segments)
  • Web site:
    Living the Story: The Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky (
  • Publications:
    Kentucky’s Black Heritage. Published by the Commonwealth of Kentucky: Kentucky Commission on Human Rights, Frankfort; © 1971.
    Selected speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
    Not Without Struggle by John B. Horton

Description of Lesson

The teacher will allow the students the opportunity to engage in group talk about their feelings, issues important to them personally, and their own experiences. Discussions should involve contemporary education issues. Classroom exercises will be enhanced by the embedding of vocabulary terms and references to historical personalities and specific historical events. Lessons should explore causality, conflict, cooperation, power, social control, traditions, values, perceptions and differences.

The students will conduct an oral history interview (see Oral History How-To) and research historical and contemporary magazine and newspaper articles concerning multiculturalism and diversity.

Invite community members who can provide a historical perspective on the civil rights era in your town to speak to the class.

Teacher Contact

Don Offutt, Division of Equity, Kentucky Department of Education

Living the Story > For Teachers > Public Education Lesson Plan