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Chronological Reasoning and Causation

The Badge of “Separate but Equal”

  1. Load Map of Hillburn, New York Showing School Boundary Lines in Main Image Viewer
  2. Load Petition of the Residents of the Village of Hillburn, Rockland County, New York to the Commissioner of Education in Main Image Viewer
  3. Load Petition of the Residents of the Village of Hillburn, Rockland County, New York to the Commissioner of Education in Main Image Viewer
  4. Load Petition of the Residents of the Village of Hillburn, Rockland County, New York to the Commissioner of Education in Main Image Viewer
  5. Load Petition of the Residents of the Village of Hillburn, Rockland County, New York to the Commissioner of Education in Main Image Viewer
  6. Load Petition of the Residents of the Village of Hillburn, Rockland County, New York to the Commissioner of Education in Main Image Viewer
  7. Load Negro School in Hillburn Closed by Order of State Education Head in Main Image Viewer
  8. Load Negro School in Hillburn Closed by Order of State Education Head in Main Image Viewer
  9. Load Photograph of Martin Luther King, Jr. Speaking, 1962 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

 

Title: “The Badge of Separate but Equal” 

Overview: 

“The Badge of Separate but Equal” is a lesson designed to get younger students thinking about what it means to be separated from everyone else based on a distinction established by one group of people over others. Students will explore the impacts of separation, namely racial segregation in America, through several activities. The teacher will utilize a variety of primary and secondary sources to help students explore and think about past and present examples of (racial) segregation. Students will gain a better understanding of the meaning behind the “I Have a Dream” speech of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his dedication to exposing the impacts of racism and segregation. Students learn compare and contrast skills and work on vocabulary and reading comprehension to identify and describe the impacts of segregation.

 Goal: This lesson helps students better understand the historical and current social, economic, emotional impacts of segregation, specifically the impacts upon African Americans, and how to be more cognizant and resistant to the injustices and inequities brought about by systemic segregation.

Objectives:  

After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Identify key points in the “I Have a Dream” speech

  • Cite evidence of at least 4-5 inequalities experienced by African American students in schools

  • Learn new vocabulary, including historical vocabulary.

  • Connect historical racism and segregation to present day inequities in various public services, such as education, libraries, policing, fire, health, housing, and childcare.

 

 Investigative (Compelling) Question: Why is it important that young people have equal opportunities to receive education?

Time Required

Activity 1 and Activity 2 can be completed in one class period (45-60 minutes). Each of the other lessons can be completed in a single class period each.

 Recommended Grade Range

Suggested grade levels: Elementary to Middle School (grades 3-7)

Subject: ELA, Social Studies

Standards: The specific NYS and Next Gen standards that this lesson is designed to meet.

New York State Grades 9-12 Social Studies Framework

Credits: Heidi Ziemer

PREPARATION 

Materials Used: see below.

Resources Used: see links below.

PROCEDURE

Description of Procedure: 

 

Preparation

Teacher should read through Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech link below), review primary and secondary sources listed throughout this lesson, and make sure all links are working. Make paper copies whenever possible for easier dissemination in the classroom, and have other materials as described in the following activities.

 

Activity 1. Connect

Pre-lesson activity – Give each student one crayon or color marker, and put students in groups of 5-7, with each person in the group getting one color crayon from the rainbow spectrum). Ask them to each draw a rainbow with their one crayon/marker on one side of a sheet of paper. Then ask the students to draw another rainbow on the reverse side, but this time they can ask others from their group if they can borrow their crayons/markers to complete their rainbows. Encourage students to draw their rainbows any way they wish and share when they are all finished.

 

Students learn that working together, helping and cooperating, they can make something more beautiful, creative, and diverse than just by working alone.

 

Activity 2. Background – Explain to students the reason why we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – who was Martin Luther King, Jr., what he believed, what he did, and what happened to him. (Use info from The King Center).

 

Next, describe the context of MLK’s speech “I Have a Dream” and play audio excerpt portion that refers to children – what did he mean? (Speech at: https://www.npr.org/2010/01/18/122701268/i-have-a-dream-speech-in-its-entirety). Time should be spent on decoding the language used in the speech to ensure students understand the meaning.

 

Activity 3. Wonder

 

Have students look at the images of schools for African American children and white children that existed from the 1870s to the 1950s. The links below provide examples from the Library of Congress. The teacher can either print out copies or have students look at the images online, depending on available technology and/or learning levels.

 

How are the schools for African American and white schools the same? How are they different? What evidence do you see that makes them different? Use Library of Congress Library of Congress Analysis Tool for Photos and Prints (or a simplified comparison chart for younger students) to record their responses.

 

Images from LOC:

Schools for black children:
http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa2000028166/PP/

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa2000028168/PP/

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa2000028169/PP/

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ncl2004004786/PP/

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa1998020301/PP/

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/owi2001027514/PP/

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa1997017010/PP/ (child picking cotton)

 

Schools for white children:

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa1997003462/PP/

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa1998017934/PP/

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa2000014219/PP/

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/owi2001008917/PP/

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa1997003301/PP/

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa2000011954/PP/


 

Activity 4. Closer Analysis: 

From the evidence of these photos, it is apparent that schools for African American and white children were not the same in most places across the country. Many people tried to change this situation over the years, including people in New York. But it wasn’t until 1954 that a national mandate for integrating schools was achieved through the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Brown v Board of Education. Even after that decision, keeping schools integrated and “equal” for all students has been a challenge, largely because of racism that persists today and because of the systemic practices of treating people differently remains.

 

So how have people tried to challenge the racism and segregation or “separate but equal” practices in America, specifically in schools in New York State? Share the following documents from Consider the Source with students (as individual handouts or posted around classroom walls):

 

Petition of the Residents of the Village of Hillburn, Rockland County, New York to the Commissioner of Education (September 1943)

 

Map of Hillburn, New York Showing School Boundary Lines (October 1943)

 

Negro School in Hillburn Closed by Order of State Education Head (news clipping from 1943)

Newspaper Article Describing the Outcome of the Hillburn Desegregation Case (shorter version, 1943)

 

  • Construct: Construct new understandings connected to previous knowledge; draw conclusions about questions and hypotheses

    • Can you connect some of the information about the Hillburn schools to the information you obtained from comparing the images of black and white schools?

    • Do you think the residents of Hillburn have a strong case in asking that the “black” school be closed? Why or why not?

 

Activity 5. 

  • Express: Apply understandings to a new context and new situations; express new ideas to share learning with others

    • Use the book “Black in America” by Eli Reed to delve further into aspects of racism and segregation that exist today. Select an equal number of “positive” and “negative” images from the book, print these out, give each a number, and hang up around the room. Give each student a clipboard with a 2-column sheet of paper. Ask students to go around to each one and write down 2-3 words that describe “what they see” in one column and 2-3 words describing “how they feel” in the other column.

    • When everyone is finished, have whole class discusses the vocabulary they used and see where there are similarities and differences. Ask students to try and explain these (we all come from different perspectives, so viewpoints matter).

    • Ask students to think of possible synonyms (and even antonyms) for the words they used to broaden their vocabulary. Place all the words contributed by students alongside each image.

    • Explain to students that segregation and racism impacts not just education, but every other aspect of a person’s life, because the segregation becomes part of their identity.

 

  • Reflect: Reflect on own learning; ask new questions

    • How do you think it would make you feel if you were told you had to be separated from other students because you looked different? 

    • Do you notice any instances in your life where you see people being separated from others or treated differently because they look different? If you did see something like this, what do you think you might do?

    • Return to compelling question: Why is it important that young people have equal opportunities to receive education?

Extensions

 

Let students know there have been so many people over the years who have struggled against racism and segregation and several of them became well known for their victories: Ruby Bridges, Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, W.E.B. DuBois, Julian Bond, and even Thurgood Marshall whose name appears in one of the Hillburn documents above. Students can select and read books about the lives of these people. Have the students create a special “badge” for the person, identifying their accomplishment in the struggle against racism and segregation. Also remind students that so many more people did and do continue to fight racism and segregation but are “everyday” people just like them! If there is time, the teacher can show examples of these people from New York Heritage (search “civil rights” and select any of the oral histories) and the Library of Congress Civil Rights History Project.