Leaders A (100%)
Groups A (67%)
Events B (50%)
History D (29%)
Tactics D (25%)
Content B (54%)
Grade levels A (100%)
Current events A (100%)
Civics F (0%)
Other movements A (100%)
Context A (75%)
Items the State Requires
Leaders: Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, Lester Maddox, Maynard Jackson, Charlayne Hunter. Groups: SCLC, SNCC. Events: 1964 Civil Rights Act, 1965 Voting Rights Act, Birmingham, Brown, Montgomery Bus Boycott, Freedom Rides, March on Washington. History: A. Philip Randolph, integration of armed forces. Opposition: White resistance. Tactics: Sit-ins, tactics.
GRADE B means Georgia includes at least 50% of the recommended content and demonstrates that it is committed to educating students about the movement.
The Georgia Performance Standards begin coverage of the civil rights movement in second grade and continues through high school.
Elementary and Middle School
Grade 2: Students learn about Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King Jr.
Grade 3: Students learn about a group of historical figures that includes Thurgood Marshall. Students are asked to “explain social barriers, restrictions, and obstacles that these historical figures had to overcome and describe how they overcame them.” Subsequent benchmarks require students to discuss the character of people in the previous list.
Grade 5: Selected civil rights movement people, events and developments are among those students are expected to describe when learning about the years between 1950-1975:
• Discuss the importance of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War.
• Explain the key events and people of the civil rights movement; include Brown v. Board of Education, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the March on Washington, Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, and civil rights activities of Thurgood Marshall, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.
• Describe the impact on American society of the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.
• Discuss the significance of the technologies of television and space exploration.
Grade 8: Students learn about the civil rights movement in some detail in their Georgia history class when they are expected to evaluate Georgia’s role in the modern civil rights movement.
• Describe major developments in civil rights and Georgia’s role during the 1940s and 1950s; include the roles of Herman Talmadge, Benjamin Mays, the 1946 governor’s race and the end of the white primary, Brown v. Board of Education, Martin Luther King Jr., and the 1956 state flag.
• Analyze the role Georgia and prominent Georgians played in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s; include such events as the founding of SNCC, Sibley Commission, admission of Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter to the University of Georgia, Albany Movement, March on Washington, Civil Rights Act, the election of Maynard Jackson as mayor of Atlanta, and the role of Lester Maddox.
• Discuss the impact of Andrew Young on Georgia.
U.S. History: These standards go into even more depth. Students learn about A. Philip Randolph’s proposed march on Washington along with Roosevelt’s response. At least three major standards cover aspects of the civil rights movement. The first calls for students to identify dimensions of the civil rights movement, 1945-1970:
• Explain the importance of President Truman’s order to integrate the U.S. military and the federal government.
• Identify Jackie Robinson and the integration of baseball.
• Explain Brown v. Board of Education and efforts to resist the decision.
• Describe the significance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and his “I Have a Dream” speech.
• Describe the causes and consequences of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The next standard requires students to describe and assess the impact of political developments between 1945 and 1970 affect civil rights:
• Describe the Warren Court and the expansion of individual rights as seen in the Miranda decision.
• Describe the political impact of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; include the impact on civil rights legislation.
• Explain Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society; include the establishment of Medicare.
• Describe the social and political turmoil of 1968; include the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, and the events surrounding the Democratic National Convention.
The last standard expects that students will encounter civil rights again when they analyze the impact of social change movements and organizations of the 1960s:
• Compare and contrast SNCC and SCLC tactics; include sit-ins, freedom rides and changing composition.
• Describe the National Organization of [sic]Women and the origins and goals of the modern women’s movement.
• Analyze the anti-Vietnam War movement.
• Analyze Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers’ movement.
• Explain the importance of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and the resulting developments; include Earth Day, the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the modern environmental movement.
• Describe the rise of the conservative movement as seen in the presidential candidacy of Barry Goldwater and the election of Richard M. Nixon.
Georgia’s standards make a serious effort to address the civil rights movement through required content. Unlike other states, Georgia is careful to require students to learn about a variety of prominent figures in the movement. Some key omissions prevent the state’s standards from being above average.
The standards do not deal well with opposition to the movement. Students are not required to learn about violence against protestors, including notable events like the Birmingham protests and groups like the Ku Klux Klan. While the standards do require students to compare and contrast SCLC tactics with SNCC tactics, they do not stipulate that students should learn about nonviolence as a strategy or its relationship to Black Power. Surprisingly, the standards do not include the Little Rock integration struggle.
Addressing much of the civil rights movement content in the Georgia history standards misses an opportunity to connect state events to national struggles later in student education; unfortunately, the state seems to think that the bulk of detailed learning about the civil rights movement should be either local or legal/legislative.
Ultimately, the standards would be greatly improved if they added additional details linked to a coherent chronological arc that still retained ties to state and regional events.