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Inquiry Question

Historical Context

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About This Lesson

This lesson is based on the National Historic Landmark nominations for “Brown Chapel AME Church” (with photographs) and the “First Confederate Capitol” (with photographs) and on the National Register of Historic Places nomination for the “Old Town Historic District” in Selma.  All of these places are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  The lesson also relies on the Racial Voting Rights in America National Historic Landmark Theme Study and on planning documents and other materials collected by the National Park Service’s Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail.   The Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March: Shaking the Conscience of the Nation was written by Marilyn Harper, consultant and former National Park Service Teaching with Historic Places historian, and edited by the Teaching with Historic Places staff.  This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into classrooms across the country.

This lesson was sponsored by the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail’s “Never Lose Sight of Freedom” program.  “Never Lose Sight of Freedom” includes lesson plans, reference materials, historical documents and photos, oral history video clips, many other useful resources for teachers, as well as information on an educational dvd.  These materials can be found on the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail website.

Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: The lesson could be used in U.S. history, social studies, and geography courses in units on nineteenth century and early twentieth century commerce or transportation, and to help students understand the role that maritime industries played in American history. The lesson could also be used to enhance studies related to the industrial revolution and women’s history.
Time period: 1820s to early twentieth century.

Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12

Objectives for students
1) To identify some of the methods Alabama, and other states, used to prevent African Americans from exercising their right to vote.
2) To describe the events that occurred during the course of the marches of March 7, March 9, and March 21-25, 1965.
3) To analyze the roles played by local activists and national organizations in the voting rights campaign in Selma, Alabama.
4) To trace the effect the events in Selma had on Federal voting rights legislation.
5) To identify surviving places in the local community associated with civil right activities.

Materials for students
The materials listed below either can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students.  The maps and images appear twice:  in a small version with associated questions and alone in a larger version.
1) two maps showing the march route and Selma;
2) one document an Alabama literacy test used in 1965;
3) two readings a history of the marches compiled from oral histories and a partial transcript of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s speech of March 15, 1965;
4) six photographs of the march and places associated with it.

Visiting the site
Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, located on Martin Luther King, Jr., Street, Selma, Alabama, is open by appointment. Please write Brown Chapel AME Church, 410 Martin Luther King, Jr., Street, Selma, AL 36702 to schedule an appointment. The Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery is open to the public with self-guided tours available from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday. The Old Town Historic District in Selma, through which marchers walked, contains more than 200 historic buildings and is roughly bounded by Dement and Lincoln Streets and Randolph and Walker Avenues. The Dallas County Courthouse and the Cecil B. Jackson Public Safety Building are both located within this district. The area can be toured on foot or by automobile. For more information about Selma, visit the Selma Chamber of Commerce website.

Created by Congress under the National Trails System Act of 1968, the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail begins at the Brown Chapel AME Church and ends at the Alabama State Capitol. The Edmund Pettus Bridge along the trail is still in use as part of the public highway system.  The Lowndes County Interpretive Center, the first of three interpretive centers planned for the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, is located in Hayneville, Alabama, approximately halfway between Selma and Montgomery.  A collaboration between the National Park Service, the Alabama Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, and Lowndes County, the Interpretive Center features exhibits dealing with segregation, the campaign for voting rights, and the Selma to Montgomery March.  It is open daily 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST.  For more information write to the Lowndes County Interpretive Center, 7001 US Highway 80, Hayneville, AL 36040-4612.  Check the Selma to Montgomery March website for more details, including driving directions.

The National Voting Rights Museum, at 1012 Water Avenue in Selma, is open weekdays and weekends by appointment.  It contains memorabilia of the civil rights movement and the recollections of participants in the voting rights campaign.  Please contact the museum for hours of operation or to arrange for a tour.

The Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel has created an Alabama Civil Rights Museum Trail.  A free full color brochure outlining places associated with civil rights activities in Montgomery, Birmingham, Selma, and Tuskegee can be downloaded from their website.

 

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