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Iowa's Role in Civil Rights

Lesson Plan Item

General Information
Grade 9th Grade, 10th Grade Class Social Studies Length of Lesson 50 minutes
Lesson Title Iowa's Role in Civil Rights
Unit Title Civil Rights in Iowa
Unit Compelling Question Was the Civil Rights Movement significant in Iowa?
Historical Context:

Fort Madison Protest: https://iowamuseums.pastperfectonline.com/webobject/E2898ED1-C94C-4662-A...

This photograph shows a protest march that occurred in Fort Madison, Iowa in 1963.
On November 2, 1963, 300 people gathered at Central Park in Fort Madison, Iowa for a protest march. Led by local NAACP president Joseph Dulin and author John Howard Griffin, the march was the first day of a two-day event, which concluded with a Human Rights Rally. Dulin stated, "[the march] shall serve as a reminder that here, too, we do have problems that need correcting, and the Freedom March is to stress meaningful Civil Rights legislation." Organizations represented included the NAACP and the Catholic Interracial Council of Davenport. The following day, 900 people attended the rally where speakers included John Howard Griffin, who discussed his book, Black Like Me, and Dr. Harry Harper, who spoke about the history of race relations in Fort Madison.

Freedom Summer Volunteers: https://iptv.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/freedomsummer_20160404_03/soc...

In late 1963, organizers of the Freedom Summer began recruiting on college campuses for volunteers to help with voter registration efforts and community work in towns throughout racially segregated Mississippi. Students were motivated by the scenes playing out on the nightly news, in the press and by national authors who were bringing attention to civil rights issues. In this video segment from Iowans Return to Freedom Summer, Marcia Moore, Patti Miller, and Marvin Gatch recall their motivations for volunteering to travel to Mississippi in the summer of 1964.

Lesson Supporting Question How did Iowa and Iowans influence the Civil Rights Movement from post World War II-1960's?
Lesson Overview
Primary Sources Used
Resources Needed

Computers, projector for videos



Lesson Target
  • Students will be able to demonstrate their understanding of the Civil Rights Movement on a local and rational level.
  • Students will be able to analyze how historical events affected individuals living in Iowa during the time period.
  • Students will connect to Iowans living during the time period and understand their perspectives and how some faced discrimination while others did not based on the color of their skin.
  • Students will be able to understand how Iowans influenced the history of the Civil Rights Movement in their state and country.
Lesson Themes Civil Rights, African American Experience
Lesson Procedure
Step Procedure Time Differentiation plan / Additional Information
1 Explain to students that in 1964, there was still a lot of segregation and resistance (often violent) to African Americans voting in southern states, such as Mississippi. About 1000 white college students from the north and Midwest joined civil rights leaders to spend the summer in towns across Mississippi helping African Americans overcome racial barriers and register to vote. (PBS, https://iptv.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/great-states-iowa-9.3/activity/)    
2 Play video.     
3 Play second video. Explain how the Civil Rights movement did not just occur during the 1960's, but has been happening since the conclusion of the Civil War. (Jim Crow Laws, Segregated South, etc)    
4 Ask students: what motivated the Iowans volunteering in Mississippi? What would motivate you to volunteer for a project that might be risky but that you felt was righteous?    
5 Ask students whether they feel like participating in a march would have a greater effect on a local or national level? Were these two movements significant in comparison to national movements like the March on Washington? How does taking action on a local level impact policies on a national level? Does it matter?    
6 Have students write a letter to either their families back home or Martin Luther King Jr., addressing the events going on around them. They can either chose to write from the Freedom Summer Volunteers perspective, or the Fort Madison Protesters perspective. Students should work alone, and can research the time period on the internet or through their textbooks. Students should be encouraged to use scholarly sources only and beware of the legitimacy of the information they are reading.     
7 For full credit, students should reference at least two historical events that happened during the time period of the 1960's Civil Rights Movement in Iowa and give their opinion on how the situation of segregation in the South and Iowa should change.     
Formative Assessment
(How will you use the formative assessments to monitor and inform instruction?)
  • The letter turned in at the end of class, which must fit the full criteria listed in (6) for full credit.
Summative Assessment
(How does the lesson connect to planned summative assessment(s)?)
  • Final paper or test on the unit.
Author Information
Author Natalie Berry, Dr. Heidi Lung Reviewer Dr. Heidi Lung, University of Iowa Created 09/04/2019 Last Edited 01/13/2020
Lesson Plan Development Notes: Museum Studies Program, The University of Iowa

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