Leaders B (50%)
Groups C (33%)
Events C (42%)
History C (43%)
Opposition D (25%)
Tactics A (71%)
Content C (46%)

Grade levels F (0%)
Current events A (100%)
Civics F (0%)
Other movements F (0%)
Context D (25%)

Items the State Requires
Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Jesse Jackson. Groups: SCLC. Events: 1964 Civil Rights Act, 1965 Voting Rights Act, Brown, Freedom Rides, March on Washington. History: Jim Crow, literacy tests, poll taxes. Opposition: White resistance. Tactics: Black Power, civil disobedience, nonviolence, sit-ins, tactics.

GRADE C means Louisiana includes at least 30% of the recommended content and has considerable work to do to ensure its students have a satisfactory understanding of the movement.

Survey of Standards and Frameworks
Requirements for instruction in Louisiana are set forth in the state’s Comprehensive Curriculum, Revised 2008. It focuses instruction about the civil rights movement in high school, with one mention before that.

Elementary and Middle School.
Grade 2:
Louisiana requires an activity for second-graders called “Famous Americans and Their Contributions.” For this activity, students learn about significant individuals (suggestions are George Washington; Abraham Lincoln; Martin Luther King Jr. and Thomas Jefferson) and create a comparative chart. The sample chart in the curriculum identifies King as having led the SCLC, delivered the 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech and won a Nobel Peace Prize.

High School
U.S. History:
This 10-unit curriculum covers 1865 to the present. It directly addresses the civil rights movement in unit nine, “A Time of Upheaval (1954-Present)” which falls after “World War II (1939-1945)” and “The Cold War (1945-1990).” In addition to the civil rights movement, the unit covers the women’s movement, Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and the Vietnam War.

The five-week unit features these objectives:

Students understand that cultural and political conflict and change emanated from the civil rights movement and crises in the American political system. Students identify key figures and construct a narrative summary of a major civil rights speech. Students develop and defend a position on challenges to the American political system. Students use a timeline to explain continuity and change in American civil rights over time.

The unit is designed to fulfill several of the state’s 54 grade level expectations (GLEs). Two GLEs specific to the civil rights movement itself are:

• Identify the primary leaders of the civil rights movement and describe major issues and accomplishments.

• Evaluate various means of achieving equality of political rights (e.g., civil disobedience vs. violent protest).

The curriculum identifies a number of key figures, events and ideas in the civil rights movement. These include:

• Jim Crow laws

• Plessy v. Ferguson

• Booker T. Washington

• W.E.B. DuBois

• George Washington Carver

• Martin Luther King Jr.

• Rosa Parks

• Malcolm X

• Jesse Jackson


• Black Panthers


• Nonviolent protests/civil disobedience

Brown v. Board of Education

• Civil Rights Act of 1964

• Voting Rights Act of 1965

• Grandfather clause

• Literacy tests

• Poll taxes

• White primaries

• Freedom Riders

• Lunch counter sit-ins

• 1963 March on Washington

African American Studies Elective: Louisiana requires students to take one social studies elective. This course is one of nine options offered in the state’s Comprehensive Curriculum. The course begins with ancient Africa and ends with the civil rights movement. In uses the following objectives:

Students will understand the effects of Jim Crow laws on the day-to-day activities of African Americans. Students will understand how boycotts, sit-ins, and other forms of civil disobedience were used as effective tools that helped to end many legal and institutional forms of racism. Students will understand that there were many instances where African Americans and whites worked together to end decades of racial discrimination toward African Americans in the United States.

The unit provides a detailed treatment of major events and personalities in the civil rights movement, including a discussion of racism.

Louisiana’s civil rights movement is disappointingly piecemeal. It has the appearance of a complete set of requirements, but a closer look reveals significant gaps. Why does the state require students to learn about the SCLC but not SNCC or CORE? Why are Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X and Jesse Jackson the only named movement figures? Why are key events like the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the struggle to integrate Little Rock, Freedom Summer and the Birmingham bombings/protests omitted? Why does the state specify so few details about opposition to the civil rights movement?

For a state that otherwise offers exhaustive detail about its day-to-day curricular requirements, Louisiana would do well to focus more on the content of lessons. The diverse students of the state deserve nothing less.