Megan was confused when her 9th grade classmates reacted differently to the assassination of President Kennedy than her family did. She didn’t know who was right. And then she learned to listen to what her heart told her was truth for her.
Have you ever wondered how you’re “supposed” to feel about a situation that makes you uncomfortable?
How can you be friends with someone you disagree with?
What’s the difference between an argument and a debate?
What happens when you realize you no longer believe some of the assumptions you grew up with?
The President Has Been Shot!: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James F. Swanson
The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
Bill gathers a group of musicians together to record an album of Civil Rights freedom songs. However, they learn that they can’t assume they are all on the same page or that underlying emotions and biases aren’t in play.
Is it possible to separate ourselves from some of our beliefs? How do we create a dialogue in which we’re able to admit our mistakes?
What was it about Hollis Watkins that made him able to say things in a way that others could hear? Have you been in a situation where someone found a way to encourage dialogue and admit our failings? How did they do it?
Do you think we all have prejudice in us?
What made it difficult for the white musicians and the musicians of color to work together? What history and different life experiences stood between them?
What is it about music that breaks down barriers?
Recording – “I’m Gonna Let it Shine – a Gathering of Voices for Freedom” available at Round River Records and www.billharley.com.
Sing for Freedom by Guy and Candie Carawan (SingOut Publications) was the sourcebook for the recording.
Everybody Say Freedom by Bob Reiser and Pete Seeger (Norton) tells the story of the songs used in the Civil Rights Movement
Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch (stirring accounts of how songs were used in Civil Rights demonstrations and rallies)
Growing up in Charleston, South Carolina during Jim Crow, Cynthia is baffled by why Black people get to ride in the “best part” of the bus, the back of the bus with the great view out the rear window. She plays with a young boy named Sammy when his mother comes to help Cynthia’s mother with the ironing. Cynthia doesn’t understand when her mother tells her that Sammy is dead and that he died because he couldn’t get to a “colored hospital” in time. When she was 12, Cynthia’s mother takes her to an integrated church service in Winston Salem. Cynthia is able to sense the danger but her heart feels full and happy to be in this circle of women.
How did white children in the Jim Crow South learn to treat people unfairly? As a young child what were Cynthia’s parents teaching her?
When were you first aware of color? When did you first become aware of injustice? How did you learn who was supposed to be “superior” and who was “inferior”?
Are transportation and health systems free of discrimination today?
Why are churches and other places of worship still so segregated today?
Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South by William Henry Chafe and Raymond Gavins
Deluxe Jim Crow: Civil Rights and the American Health Policy, 1935-1954 by Karen Kruse Thomas
Growing up, Steven was involved in Boy Scouts and his church and as a teen he advocated for community development in his New Jersey neighborhood. But could he get involved in the rising black militancy of the late 1960s?
Why was Steven called “too white” by some of his friends? What is “acting white” and how has racism perpetuated these no-win choices of how white or black someone is?
Steven’s neighborhood didn’t have comparable city services such as garbage pickup and water and sewer service. How did the city justify this uneven treatment and what was Steven’s Youth group able to do in the face of this discrimination?
If you were African American in the 1960s would you have become involved with the Black Power movement? In what ways might you show your pride in your African American heritage? For what reasons might you become involved in peaceful protests such as school walkouts or be tempted to participate in more militant actions?
Do you think Steven made the right decision to go to school after Dr. King was assassinated in 1968? How did Steven’s family influence his decisions?
In what ways are we still reaching for Dr. King’s “beloved community”? Do you think it’s an attainable ideal?
Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party by Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin
Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Final Year by Tavis Smiley and David Ritz
A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Clayborne Carson and Kris Shepard
Mama Edie’s Black Theater Ensemble is invited to perform her original composition called “Metamorphosis” at a university in Iowa in 1970. After what had been a peaceful and joyful journey along the way, the ensemble members come to realize that Civil Rights had not yet fully taken root, not even in the north.
Have you or has anyone in your family ever been in a situation where you felt not only unwelcome but in danger just because of the color of your skin? If so, what was the situation and what was it like?
If someone was being mistreated because of their so-called race, gender, religion or ethnic heritage, do you think that you could speak up for them? If so, how would you go about it? If not, why not?
How can we turn the anger of a painful past into something life giving and productive? What is the likely end result if we do not, if we don’t find within ourselves a place of peace?
The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (A fictional tale of the mysterious journey into the experience of invisibility of an entire race of people.)
Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin – a non-fiction book, also produced as a film, that reflects on the experiences of a European/white American who disguises himself as an African American.
In A Crack in the Wall a white man has an experience at a copy shop that causes him to examine the negative impact racial conditioning has had on him. He is disturbed when he realizes that he has been indifferent to the historical suffering of African Americans, and he becomes painfully aware of his subconscious denial and patronizing attitude towards them.
How is it possible for a white person to be unaware of systemic unjust treatment of African Americans?
Discuss how racial conditioning can cause white Americans to deny the systemic injustice that for African Americans is all too real.
Why is being treated in a patronizing way so devastating?
What are the rewards of connecting cross-racially?
Savage Inequalities, Death at an Early Age and The Shame of a Nation by Jonathan Kozol
Honky by Dalton Conley
True Colors – ABC Prime Time Live 1994
Longing: Stories of Racial Healing by Phyllis and Gene Unterschuetz
The 2011 Occupy Movement Looks at the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign
In 2011, Sue meets a group of young people at an Occupy Chicago demonstration who are unaware of activists’ movements in the past that occupied public lands. Sue shares the story of The 1968 Poor People’s Campaign – Dr. King’s last crusade that was carried on after his death in 1968.
What do the two movements – the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign and the 2011 Occupy Movement – have in common? How are they different?
Why did Dr. King want the mule train to start in Marks, Mississippi? Why did he expand his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement to include all poor people?
Has the Occupy Movement had an influence in politics and media? (For instance, Bernie Sanders presidential campaign and movies such as The Big Short)
Is there any cause that you would camp out for in order to express your feelings and ideas?
The 99%: How the Occupy Wall Street Movement is Changing America by Clara Blumenkranz and Keith Gessen
Marks, Martin and the Mule Train: The Origins of the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign by Hillard Lawrence Lackey
Empathy grows from sharing stories; this story was shared to encourage others to know, to understand, and to remember. This is a personal journey tale from Lyn’s childhood living next door to a Holocaust survivor and, then, her adolescent small but mature steps into the greater Civil Rights Movement.
Ignorance can lead to misinterpretation of a story. As a child, Lyn misunderstood the meaning of numbers printed on skin. Discuss how stereotypes are misinterpretations based on superficial concepts.
Fences aren’t always made of wood; walls aren’t always made of brick or stone. What fences separate your community, your neighborhood, or your heart from others who, superficially, seem “different”? What’s the first step you can take to get beyond those fences?
(Please be patient as the video may take a few moments to load.)
Rosa Parks is best known for her refusal to give up her seat to a white man on a
Montgomery, Alabama bus in 1955. Her action galvanized the growing Civil Rights
Movement and led to the successful Montgomery bus boycott. But even before her
defiant act and the resulting boycott, Ms. Parks was dedicated to racial justice and
equality. Linda Gorham tells the story of those times through the eyes of three people: Claudette Colvin (a 15-year-old who refused to give up her seat nine months before Rosa Parks), James Blake (the bus driver), and Rosa Parks herself.
Given the climate of violence Rosa Parks faced, would you have had the courage to do what she and the other people of the Civil Rights Movement did? Have you ever stood up for something you believe in? What happened?
Would you have been one of the people involved in the Civil Rights movement? How would you have helped?
Many Whites thought things were unfair in this country and supported the Civil Rights Movement yet were afraid to say so to their own spouses, families or neighbors. When have you felt afraid to share your beliefs?
Film – Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks by Hudson & Houston produced by
Teaching Tolerance and Tell the Truth Pictures.
Rosa Parks: My Story by Rosa Parks and Jim Haskins. In this straightforward, compelling autobiography, Rosa Parks talks candidly about the civil rights movement and her active role in it.
Rosa Parks: A Life by Douglas Brinkley. Historian Douglas Brinkley follows this thoughtful and devout woman from her childhood in Jim Crow Alabama through her early involvement in the NAACP to her epochal moment of courage and her afterlife as a beloved (and resented) icon of the civil rights movement.