The schedule below focuses on the guest speakers and themes for the day. Each day will also include time for small group dialogues, curriculum writing, freedom songs, and/or other activities and will end with a evaluation/reflection on the day. Where there are references to lessons, participants will engage in an abbreviated form of the lesson and then have time to discuss insights and applications.
The times are 11:00am ET to 1:30pm ET and 2:30pm ET to 6:30pm ET
Note: This daily schedule for the institute is subject to change.
Week One: July 6-9, 1940-1954
Tuesday, July 6
Welcome by co-directors and review of syllabus.
Introductory Activities for participants to learn about each other, the course, and resources.
Voting Rights Lesson: An introduction to the long and ongoing history of the struggle for voting rights, drawing in part on SNCC Digital Gateway and Civil Rights Movement Archive websites.
Curriculum Writing: Overview of options and considerations for participant lesson development during the institute.
Freedom Songs: Judy Richardson describes the importance of freedom songs during the Civil Rights Movement. Participants discuss ways in which they use songs related to history in their classes. Group sing of “Woke Up This Morning with My Mind Stayed on Freedom.” Introduction of Spotify playlist of freedom movement songs.
Reflection and Evaluation: On this and every day, there will be a closing reflection and evaluation using a Google survey.
Wednesday, July 7
Black activism leading up to 1940: Historian Adriane Lentz-Smith (Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I), will talk about WWI history and offer a context for understanding “that the classic phase of the Civil Rights Movement was a particular configuration of a much longer Black freedom struggle.”
Classroom connections: Examination of primary documents and discussion of implications from talk for scope and sequence of U.S. history.
Discuss how this session has shifted understanding of the WWI era and implications for the classroom. Does this change the “start date” for the Civil Rights Movement? How is it the same or different than what occurred during the modern Civil Rights Movement? How does Lentz-Smith’s work allow us to connect U.S. foreign policy and military history to shifts on the home front?
Introduction by Judy Richardson to the role of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL) and land ownership.
View Dirt & Deeds in Mississippi, a documentary film about “a Mississippi Delta community called Mileston in which 100 sharecropping families gained control of 10,000 acres of some of the best land in the state as a result of a radical New Deal era experiment in the 1930s and, in turn, became leaders of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.” (Narrated by Danny Glover.) Discuss the film with a focus on the relationship between land ownership, self-determination, activism, and democracy. Discuss how to bring this element of economic independence as vital to the Civil Rights Movement into the classroom.
Sing “This Little Light of Mine.”
End of day reflection and evaluation.
Thursday, July 8
Critiquing the Traditional Narrative: Small group discussion of current curriculum in light of the critique in the pre-reading “The Political Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History and Memorialization in the Present” from A More Beautiful and Terrible History.
The Role of Ella Baker: Talk by Judy Richardson and Wesley Hogan about Ella Baker’s work organizing the NAACP chapter in the South during the late 1930s and 1940s and key stories from Baker’s work, such as the Scottsboro case, the WPA, and the NAACP Youth Council.
Richardson and Hogan will share Baker’s pedagogical innovations with participants, including Baker’s focus on small-group work, group leadership, and mutual understanding as the key to motivating people to find their strengths.
View the documentary Fundi: The Story of Ella Baker. Discussion led by Judy Richardson with these questions: How do we define a movement? What is grassroots organizing and how does it differ from mobilizing campaigns? What leads to changes in tactics and strategy? What is a leader?
Small group discussions.
Sing “Ella’s Song: We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest Until it Comes” written by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon and frequently performed by Sweet Honey in the Rock.
Daily evaluation and reflection.
Friday, July 9
Jeanne Theoharis, author of The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, will describe the long history of Rosa Parks’ work in civil rights organizing in Alabama during the 1940s. She will also discuss the introduction to her book A More Beautiful and Terrible History that participants wrote about the day before, and share lessons from the Montgomery Bus Boycott, based on her chapter, “Learning to Play on Locked Pianos.”
Lesson on Rosa Parks. Lesson for grades 7+ on the long life of activism of Mrs. Rosa Parks.
Curriculum writing working groups. Teachers meet in small groups to work on lessons.
Week Two: July 12 – 16, 1955-1965
Monday, July 12
Question Formulation Technique: Introduction and application.
Focus on Selma: Presentation by Wesley Hogan and Judy Richardson on the history of Selma from the founding of the Dallas County Voters League dating back to the 1930s and the role of teachers and students.
View excerpt from Eyes on the Prize on Selma and the National Park Service film featuring Selma teenagers..
Reflection in small groups: How can we ensure that students understand the power of the organizing prior to the modern Civil Rights Movement? Given the constraints of the scope and sequence for your grades/subjects, where and how can that be introduced? What stories and essential questions would you include, and how?
Repression: Judy Richardson will present excerpts from and discuss the post-65 years of Eyes on the Prize. In particular, the segments on the murders of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, COINTELPRO, and the Attica Prison Uprising.
COINTELPRO lesson with primary documents.
Daily evaluation/reflection, with longer individual reflection about the changes you plan to make in your own curriculum in light of week one.
Tuesday, July 13
Montgomery Bus Boycott: Drawing on readings from The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks and primary documents on the companion website, participants will examine the long history of local black activism that led up to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, including the roles of the Women’s Political Council, the local Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters Union, the NAACP, and Claudette Colvin.
Richardson will show a short sequence of segments from Eyes on the Prize on the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Discussion questions: How to shift the narrative in the classroom about the commonly taught story of the MBB, taking into account the key institute themes: grassroots organizing by “ordinary people,” the long history of the movement, and the emergence of leaders from the Movement. What about the Black community in Montgomery made it possible for the bus boycott to be successful?
Archives: Presentation by archivist John Gartrell of the John Hope Franklin Research Center on the politics of archiving; the collections at the Franklin Research Center; and how to engage with original primary documents. Teachers will have time to browse the collection of original primary documents on the southern freedom struggle that Gartrell has made available online.
Reflection and evaluation.
Wednesday, July 14
Sit-Ins: Wesley Hogan will present on the Greensboro sit-ins of 1960 and the creation of SNCC with a focus on Ella Baker and some of the older local activists in Mississippi and SW Georgia.
View and discuss the Eyes on the Prize segment on the sit-ins.
Explore the website, Counter Histories, children’s/YA books on sit-ins, and timeline of sit-ins and resistance to segregation dating back to the 1800s.
SNCC Lesson: Introduce lesson called “Teaching SNCC: The Organization at the Heart of the Civil Rights Revolution” by Adam Sanchez. The lesson has two sections (1) stepping into the shoes of Freedom Riders and writing letters home and (2) working in small groups to address key challenges faced by SNCC. What decision would you make? Followed by readings of primary documents that reveal the actual outcomes.
Debrief how to use/adapt the role play to teachers’ classrooms and how to use for professional development workshops. Discuss how the fill the gaps in the lesson.
Reflection and evaluation.
Thursday, July 15
Historian Daphne Chamberlain will provide a presentation called “Placing Mississippi in the National Narrative: The 1960s Black Freedom Struggle and Youth Activism in the ‘Closed Society’.” This will be followed by a discussion about how to highlight the role of youth (then and now) throughout the curriculum.
Children’s Books: Critical examination of children’s literature and widely used U.S. history textbooks in light of the key narratives (see appendix.) Participants engage in a review and critique the books themselves. Then discuss ways to engage students in critical readings of their respective textbooks and the popular media about this historical time period.
View and discuss the film Freedom Song, one of the best feature films for young people on the Civil Rights Movement, following the true story of SNCC’s work in McComb, Mississippi.
Prior to viewing the film, Hogan will describe a workshop she ran with students at VSU. As teachers view they film, they can consider ways to adapt that workshop format when showing the film in their own classrooms.
Following the film, debrief in light of many of the themes discussed to date that are dramatized in the film, such as post-WWII activism by returning African American soldiers, SNCC’s methods of organizing; and upcoming topics such as self-defense and the role of the federal government. Key questions: how do leaders of the movement emerge? What precipitates grassroots organizing? How does resistance persist in the face of intimidation?
Reflection and evaluation.
Friday, July 16
Historian Charles Payne (I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition in the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement) will present on Freedom Summer in Mississippi and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). He will address about how SNCC broke open the caste system in the American South between 1960 and 1965. Payne will also talk about key Supreme Court cases that are often overlooked when teaching about the era, such as Smith v. Allwright (1944).
Critical conversation about teaching challenges — such as how to teach about the day to day, long term organizing grounded in local communities (whatever your community is at that time).
Week Three: July 19-23, 1966-1980
Monday, July 19
SNCC veteran and journalist Charles Cobb Jr., originator of the concept of Freedom Schools in Mississippi, will talk about the philosophy of Freedom Schools and what he refers to as “sharecropper education.” He will describe the approach used by organizers, based on his own on the ground experience.
Cobb will also talk about the relationship between non-violence and self-defense in the South, with specific examples from his book, This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed.
Introduction to Freedom Schools through a collection of primary documents, news reports, and oral histories. Teachers will work in small groups with varied focus areas: curriculum, teachers, students, opposition, and coordination. Each group will address specific questions related to their documents and share highlights with the rest of the group.
Discuss what aspects of Freedom Schools would be important to incorporate today, and how.
Tuesday, July 20
Hasan Jeffries will introduce the story of “Bloody Lowndes” in Alabama where the black panther logo was first used for the LCFO as black voters across the black belt area sought to develop a political system―and party―that would represent their economic and political interests.
Jeffries will also present an overview of key considerations and teacher strategies for teaching “hard history.”
View and discuss Scarred Justice: The Orangeburg Massacre 1968. Discussion facilitated by Jeffries (who teaches a film course at Ohio State University) and Richardson (who produced and directed the documentary.)
Reflection and evaluation.
Wednesday, July 21
Courtland Cox and Jennifer Lawson of SNCC will talk from their own experience about the work in Lowndes County with a focus on their organizing strategies and the use of popular education. Through photos and first person stories, they will share how (at 19 and 20 years old) they worked with the local community to challenge the tactics that to date had allowed only four of 5,000 eligible African Americans to register to vote.
Cox and Lawson will offer an additional presentation on SNCC and Internationalism, including ways that SNCC learned from, informed, and connected with activists and movements in other countries. This includes the roles of Frantz Fanon, Shirley and W. E. B. Du Bois, Paul and Eslanda Robeson, and C.L.R. James. Also, the impact of the murder of Tuskegee student Sammy Younge Jr., and their travels to Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.
Teachers meet in groups by city or geographic region (when not at least two in a city) to plan how to stay in touch and collaborate on dissemination.
Freedom song: Keep Your Eyes on the Prize, Hold On.
Reflection and evaluation.
Thursday July 22
Historian Emilye Crosby will give a talk with images titled “Looking the Devil in the Eye: The Claiborne County Story of Race Relations in Civil Rights Movement History and Memory (A Case Study of Claiborne County, Mississippi) based on her book, A Little Taste of Freedom: The Black Freedom Struggle in Claiborne County, Mississippi. She will share oral histories of whites and African Americans in Claiborne County, which show that “while they share a past, they do not share an understanding of the past.”
She will share primary documents for teachers to examine, allowing them to see firsthand how the memories of African Americans and whites of black activism in Claiborne County differed about conditions in the County and whether the activism was locally initiated or “outside agitators.”
Teachers will write, first identifying a place in their *existing* curriculum where they can apply Crosby’s framework of “sharing a past, but not an understanding of that past,” to help students understand that idea of contested memory. They they will identify a new piece of CRM history they might teach using this framework.
Judy Richardson and Emilye Crosby will offer a presentation about women and gender roles in SNCC based on research on the topic by Crosby and first hand experiences by Richardson.
Screening and discussion of the three-minute StoryCorps animation on the fight for the right to vote called A More Perfect Union.
To introduce more films that teachers might want to consider for the classroom, but that there is not time to show in full during the institute, show trailers for Freedom Never Dies – The Legacy of Harry T. Moore, Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek, Freedom on My Mind, and Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart: Lorraine Hansberry.
Reflection and evaluation.
Friday, July 23
Historian Ashley D. Farmer (Remaking Black Power: How Black Women Transformed an Era), will give a talk on the central role of Black women’s intellectual production and activism in the Civil Rights and Black Power movements.
Presentation by teacher participants of their work.
NEH Evaluation: Participants receive a dedicated link for the formal evaluation of the institute for NEH.
A song led by one of the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) members to represent the Movement traditions being carried on to the next generation.