Living the Story: The Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky
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Lesson Plan: Social and Cultural Issues in the Civil Rights Movement

Suggested Grade Level

High school

This lesson could be taught within a unit on race relations.

Academic Expectations

1.11 Students write using appropriate forms, conventions, and styles to communicate ideas and information to different audiences for different purposes.
1.13   Students make sense of ideas and communicate ideas with visual arts.
1.14   Students make sense of ideas and communicate ideas with music.
1.2   Students make sense of a variety of materials they read.
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.
2.18   Students understand economic principles and are able to make economic decisions that have consequences in daily living.
2.19   Students recognize and understand the relationship between people and geography and apply their knowledge in real-life situations.
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.
  • Examine how immigration and movement of populations within the United States have impacted the culture of the United States.
  • Understand how factors such as locations of resources and markets, transportation, and technology influence the placement, size, and function of human settlements and patterns of movement.
  • Examine the transformation of the United States from rural economy to industrial economy to leadership in the global economy.
  • Trace the political development of the United States, including the changing roles of state and federal government and the relationships among the branches of government.
  • Recognize how the U.S. Constitution, significant legislation, and landmark Supreme Court decisions have impacted American society.
  • Analyze the roles of political parties and citizen participation in a democratic 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).
  • Explore how people and cultures of many countries, races, and religious traditions have contributed to the American experience.
  • Examine ways in which cooperation, conflict, and competition occur as cultures emerge.
  • 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.
  • Analyze, interpret, and evaluate the creation and performance of works in various art disciplines.
  • Explain how ideas, thoughts, and traditions of humankind are reflected in the arts through historical and cultural contexts.
  • Analyze, interpret, and evaluate various aspects of musical performances.
  • Describe various styles and purposes of music and explain how music reflects historical and cultural influences.
  • Explain how visual artworks reflect cultures, time periods, and styles.
  • Respond critically to a variety of literary genres (e.g., novels, essays, short stories, poetry, drama) and styles by applying a knowledge of characteristics of those genres and literary terms and concepts (e.g., theme, character, point of view, figurative language) and by making connections to personal experience.
  • Select and read materials for enjoyment.
  • Write transactive pieces (writing produced for authentic purposes and audiences beyond completing an assignment to demonstrate learning) that demonstrate independent thinking about content and structure observed in informational and literary reading.

Core Content

  • SS-H-1.1.2
  • SS-H-1.1.3
  • SS-H-2.2.1
  • SS-H-2.4.1
  • SS-H-2.4.2
  • SS-H-3.2.1
  • SS-H-4.3.2
  • SS-H-5.1.3
  • SS-H-5.2.3
  • SS-H-5.2.6

Objective of Lesson

  • To examine social and cultural issues of the Kentucky civil rights era.


The students will write one- to two-page papers reflecting on specific things that affected them. The students will use the vocabulary terms to describe instances of present-day prejudice, discrimination, and oppression. Quizzes will be given on identification of songs, artist, writers, and poems and their meanings to the movement.

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.
    A History of Blacks in Kentucky: In Pursuit of Equality, 1890-1980 by George C. Wright, Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort; © 1992.
  • CDs:
    Sing for Freedom: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement Through Its Songs (various artists)
    Voices of the Civil Rights Movement: Black American Freedom Songs (Smithsonian)
    Selected speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Description of Lesson

The teacher will open the unit with vocabulary development, then prompt classroom discussion with references to the material shown in the videos.

The teacher will assign a list of authors for class members to research. Students should make presentations on one or more of their assigned author’s works.

The teacher will provide a list of musicians and songs for the class to research. To assist the students, the teacher can use Songs of the Civil Rights Movement, produced by the Smithsonian, or web sites suggested by the Kentucky Historical Society.

A member of the community who was active in the civil rights movement can be invited to bring memorabilia and speak to the class.

Teacher Contact

Don Offutt, Division of Equity, Kentucky Department of Education

Living the Story > For Teachers > Social Issues Lesson Plan (High School)