These are the Washington, D.C., model standards for teaching the civil rights movement. The text highlighted in gray represents content that was added to the state¹s existing standards or was revised to create a model standard that provides comprehensive coverage of the civil rights movement.


Grade 1 
1.2 Broad Concept: Students identify and describe the symbols, icons, songs and traditions of the United States that exemplify cherished ideals and provide continuity and a sense of community over time. 


  1. Understand when and why we celebrate Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thankgiving Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, DC Emancipation Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day and Independence Day. 

5.14. Broad Concept: Students describe the key events and accomplishments of the civil rights movement in the United States. 


  1. Explain the impacts and mechanisms of segregation, including Jim Crow laws, school segregation, poll taxes and literacy tests. 
  2. List and describe the steps toward desegregation, including A. Philip Randolph’s proposed 1941 March on Washington, Jackie Robinson and baseball, Truman and the Armed Forces, Adam Clayton Powell and Congress, and the integration of public schools. 
  3. Identify key figures and strategies used in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, including Rosa Parks. 
  4. Trace the Freedom Rides and the struggle for expanding the right to vote, including Freedom Summer and the Selma-to-Montgomery March.
  5. Describe the opposition to the civil rights movement by individuals and groups, including the Birmingham bombings and the Ku Klux Klan. 
  6. Explain the growth of the African American middle class. 

5.15 Broad Concept: Students describe the broader struggle for civil rights. 


  1. Identify key leaders in the struggle to extend equal rights to all Americans through the decades, including César Chávez and Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales. 
  2. Explain the movement for women’s rights, including differing perspectives on the roles of women. 


Grade 11 

11.11. Students analyze the origins, goals, key events, tactics, resistance to and accomplishments of the civil rights movement in the United States. 


  1. Trace the causes of the civil rights movement from slavery through the Civil War and Reconstruction, identifying obstacles to the movement’s success including de jure and de facto segregation. 
  2. Explain the roots of the 1950s and 1960s civil rights movement in the legal struggles and largely interracial coalition building of the 1940s, including strategies used by A. Philip Randolph, the Congress of Racial Equality and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. 
  3. Explain the role of organizations in the civil rights movement, including the Congress of Racial Equality, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee. 
  4. Describe the legacies and ideologies of key people, including Ella Jo Baker, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Malcolm X, and others (e.g., James Farmer, Fannie Lou Hamer, Constance Baker Motley, Stokely Carmichael)
  5. Outline the steps toward desegregation, including integration of sports, the armed forces, schools and transportation. Explain key Supreme Court decisions (Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Education, and Bolling v. Sharpe) and movement activities, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Freedom Rides. 
  6. Explain the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and the 24th Amendment, with an emphasis on equality of access to education and to the political process. 
  7. Examine the opposition to the civil rights movement, including the conflict between Orval Faubus and Eisenhower in Little Rock, the extra-judicial enforcement of segregation through diverse tactics such as the formation of the White Citizens Councils and key symbolic figures such as Bull Connor. 
  8. Evaluate tactics such as boycotts, sit-ins, marches (including the 1963 March on Washington) and voter registration used at different times during the struggle for civil rights. 
  9. Describe the Black Power and black studies movements (e.g., the Black Panthers; Organization Us; black-themed film, music and art; and the birth of academic black studies). 
  10. Describe the trajectory of the civil rights movement following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., including Watts and other uprisings, evaluating its accomplishments and remaining objectives. 

11.12 Students analyze the expansion of the civil rights movement in the United States. 


  1. Describe the relationships between the African- American freedom struggle and the quests of Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanic Americans for civil rights and equal opportunities. 
  2. Explain the role of institutions, including the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC; the National Council of La Raza, or NCLR; the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, or MALDEF; and the National Puerto Rican Coalition. 
  3. Describe the legacies and ideologies of key people, including Dolores Huerta and Raúl Yzaguirre. 
  4. Describe the birth and the spread of the Chicano Movement, from New Mexico to Denver to Washington, DC, analyzing its moderate and more militant arms, including the Brown Berets, United Farm Workers, Mexican American Political Association, and Raza Unida. 
  5. Trace the identification of rights of immigrant populations (non-English speakers) by examining a series of legal decisions from the Supreme Court, including Hernández v. Texas, Méndez v. Westminster, Plyler v. Doe, Lau v. Nichols, and Keyes v. Denver. 
  6. Describe the Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965 and the effect of abolishing the national origins quotas on the demographic makeup of America. 
  7. Analyze the women’s rights movement launched in the 1960s, including differing perspectives on the roles of women, the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). 
  8. Evaluate the relevance of struggles for civil rights in the current era, linking current events to past movements for civil rights. 

Grade 12 

12.8. Students evaluate and take and defend positions on the scope and limits of rights and obligations as democratic citizens, the relationships among them, and how they are secured. 


  1. Discuss the meaning and importance of each of the rights guaranteed under the Bill of Rights and how each is secured (e.g., freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, petition, and privacy). 
  2. Explain how economic rights are secured and their importance to the individual and to society (e.g., the right to acquire, use, transfer, and dispose of property; right to choose one’s work; right to join or not join labor unions; copyright and patent). 
  3. Discuss the individual’s legal obligations to obey the law, serve as a juror, and pay taxes. 
  4. Understand the obligations of civic-mindedness, including voting, being informed on civic issues, volunteering and performing public service and serving in the military or alternative service. 
  5. Describe the reciprocity between rights and obligations, that is, why enjoyment of one’s rights entails respect for the rights of others. 
  6. Explain how one becomes a citizen of the United States, including the process of naturalization (e.g., literacy, language, and other requirements). 
  7. Evaluate the place of civil disobedience and protest in a democratic society.