Leaders A (100%)
Groups A (67%)
Events A (67%)
History F (14%)
Opposition D (25%)
Tactics B (57%)
Content B (62%)
Grade levels A (100%)
Current events F (0%)
Civics A (100%)
Other movements A (100%)
Context A (75%)
Items the State Requires
Leaders: Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, Thurgood Marshall, Bobby Seale, Charles Houston, Constance Baker Motley, Fannie Lou Hamer, H. Rap Brown, Harry & Henrietta Moore, Robert Williams, Roy Wilkins, Whitney Young. Groups: CORE, SNCC. Events: 24th Amendment, 1964 Civil Rights Act, 1965 Voting Rights Act, Brown, Montgomery Bus Boycott, Freedom Rides, Little Rock, March on Washington, Mississippi Freedom Summer. History: A. Philip Randolph. Opposition: White resistance. Tactics: Black Power, civil disobedience, nonviolence, tactics.
Grade A means Florida includes at least 60% of the recommended content and sets higher expectations for its students than other states.
Florida’s Next Generation Sunshine State Standards (NGSSS) contain a number of benchmarks specific to the civil rights movement from kindergarten through high school.
The “Remarks and Examples” (abbreviated simply as “examples”) in Florida’s standards are required content. This is clarified in the new U.S. History EOC (end-ofcourse) Assessment test item document, which describes remarks and examples as “specific content that should be taught and potentially could be assessed.”
Elementary and Middle School
Kindergarten and Grade 1: As in many states, Florida’s benchmarks require students to learn about Martin Luther King Jr. as part of studying national holidays. Florida also includes King in a list that includes Pocahontas and astronauts as examples for fulfilling a benchmark expectation that students will “listen to and retell stories about people in the past who have shown character ideals and principles including honesty, courage, and responsibility.”
Grade 4: While studying Florida history, students are required to “identify Florida’s role in the civil rights movement. Examples are Tallahassee Bus Boycotts, civil disobedience, and the legacy of early civil rights pioneers, Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore.”
The bulk of Florida’s civil rights movement coverage, as in many states, is in the high school social studies curriculum. The following benchmarks are the core of Florida’s civil rights-related requirements:
• Examine the freedom movements that advocated civil rights for African- Americans, Latinos, Asians and women.
• Analyze support for and resistance to civil rights for women, African-Americans, Native Americans and other minorities.
• Explain the impact of World War II on domestic government policy (e.g., rationing, national security, civil rights, increased job opportunities for African- Americans, women, Jews and other refugees)
• Evaluate the success of 1960s-era presidents’ foreign and domestic policies. Examples are civil rights legislation, Space Race, Great Society.
• Compare nonviolent and violent approaches utilized by groups (African Americans, women, Native Americans, Hispanics) to achieve civil rights.
• Assess key figures and organizations in shaping the civil rights movement and Black Power movement. Examples are the NAACP, National Urban League, SNCC, CORE, Charles Houston, Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks, Constance Baker Motley, the Little Rock Nine, Roy Wilkins, Whitney M. Young, A. Philip Randolph, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Robert F. Williams, Fannie Lou Hamer, Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El- Shabazz), Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture), H. Rap Brown (Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin), the Black Panther Party (e.g., Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale).
• Assess the building of coalitions between African Americans, whites and other groups in achieving integration and equal rights. Examples are Freedom Summer, Freedom Rides, Montgomery Bus Boycott, Tallahassee Bus Boycott of 1956, March on Washington.
• Analyze significant Supreme Court decisions relating to integration, busing, affirmative action, the rights of the accused, and reproductive rights. Examples are Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Education, Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, Miranda v. Arizona, Gideon v. Wainright, Mapp v. Ohio and Roe v. Wade.
• Examine the similarities of social movements (Native Americans, Hispanics, women, anti-war protesters) of the 1960s and 1970s.
• Identify the expansion of civil rights and liberties by examining the principles contained in primary documents. Examples are Preamble, Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, Emancipation Proclamation, 13th, 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th, and 26th Amendments, Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Florida has an African American History Task Force with a dedicated website. They have produced African and African American History Curriculum Frameworks designed for infusion into all grades and levels. The civil rights movement is included in the fifth of seven curricular framework foci (“Post slavery: abolition, civil rights and constitutional rights”) and supported by a series of lesson plans.
Florida also maintains a website with curricular materials and information in support of Black History Month.
Florida has a strong set of civil rights-related history standards that could be improved with a few modifications. The standards do not shy away from setting out core knowledge when it comes to key personalities in the civil rights movement, including a mix of state and national figures. The events selection is weaker, missing important events like the Montgomery Bus Boycott and failing to mention the 1964 Civil Rights Act by name. The standards are weakest when talking about resistance to the movement. Although Florida requires students to learn about the Ku Klux Klan and Jim Crow when studying Reconstruction, the 20th century standards do not mention segregation laws, poll taxes, literacy tests, Jim Crow or any other episodes of white resistance and racism. This has the unfortunate effect of making the movement seem one-sided and its success inevitable.
Overall, the state is moving in the right direction. Florida is setting high expectations and following through with end-of-course exams matched to those expectations. With a few changes, the state could have model standards for teaching the civil rights movement.