Living the Story: The Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky
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Lesson Plan: Desegregating the Kentucky Public School System

Suggested Grade Level


This lesson could be taught within a unit on history, government, economics, sociology, or psychology.

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

    6th Grade:
  • Examine how human and physical geography influenced past decisions and events.
  • Examine the relationship between governments and the rights of individuals.
  • Compare cultural and social institutions from various regions and how they address human needs.
  • 7th Grade:
  • Analyze the social, political, and economic changes in human societies in historical eras prior to 1500 A.D.
  • Investigate the development of human rights prior to 1500 A.D.
  • Investigate the emergence of social institutions and how they responded to human needs.
  • Give examples of cooperation, conflict, and competition that resulted from the interaction of cultures.
  • 8th Grade:
  • Use a variety of tools (e.g., primary and secondary sources, data, artifacts) to explore the interpretive nature (how perceptions of people and passing of time influence accounts of historical events) of United States history.
  • Develop a chronological understanding of the early history of the United States.
  • Recognize cause-and-effect relationships and multiple causes of events in United States history.
  • Examine the impact of significant individuals and groups in early United States history.
  • Understand the development of democratic thought in early America.
  • Examine patterns of human movement, settlement, and interaction in early American history and investigate how these patterns influenced culture and society in the United States.
  • Explore reasons behind patterns of human settlement across the United States that resulted in the diverse cultures of the United States.
  • Analyze economic systems and economic institutions that developed in early United States history.
  • Recognize that government regulation impacts the economy in decisions about productive resources (e.g., natural, human, human-made).
  • Understand how the U.S. Constitution has changed over time to adjust to different needs and situations.
  • Examine the rights and responsibilities of individuals in American society by analyzing democratic principles (e.g., liberty, justice, individual human dignity, and the rule of law) as expressed in historical events, historical documents (e.g., the Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution), and American society.
  • Examine how culture in the United States has been influenced by language, literature, arts, beliefs, and behavior of people in America’s past.
  • Investigate how social institutions addressed human needs in early United States history.
  • Analyze social interactions among diverse groups and individuals in United States history.
  • Analyze social interactions, including conflict and cooperation, among individuals and groups in United States history.

Core Content

  • SS-M-1.1.2
  • SS-M-1.1.3
  • SS-M-1.3.1
  • SS-M-2.1.1
  • SS-M-2.3.1
  • SS-M-2.4.1
  • SS-M-2.4.2
  • SS-M-4.3.1
  • SS-M-4.3.2
  • SS-M-5.1.1
  • SS-M-5.1.3
  • SS-M-5.2.1
  • SS-M-5.2.2
  • SS-M-5.2.4


Students can be grouped to develop bills for discussion, debate, and voting in the following areas:

  • religion in public schools
  • equity in sports
  • discipline in schools
  • smoking in schools
  • school bullying
  • sexual harassment

Students can write position papers on the above issues.

The teacher can allow students to use artistic approaches (i.e., art, poetry, rap) to discuss their feelings, concerns, and beliefs about discrimination.

Materials Needed for Lesson

  • Videos:
    Living the Story: The Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky
    Eyes on the Prize
  • 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.

Description of Lesson

The teacher should allow students to engage in an open discussion of the videos. During this discussion, the teacher should introduce the concepts of segregation, integration, desegregation, diversity, ethnicity, gender, disability, and multiculturalism into the lesson.

If possible, the teacher could explore having someone bring artifacts from a historically African-American public school. The teacher might also invite a person from the community who attended the school to speak to the class. The students could develop a list of questions, with the guidance of the teacher, and videotape the interview(s).

Teacher Contact

Don Offutt, Division of Equity, Kentucky Department of Education

Living the Story > For Teachers > Desegregating Schools Lesson Plan