Leaders A (63%)
Groups F (0%)
Events B (50%)
History D (29%)
Opposition F (25%)
Tactics D (29%)
Content C (34%)
Grade levels A (100%)
Current events F (0%)
Civics F (0%)
Other movements F (0%)
Context D (25%)
Items the state requires
Leaders: Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, Oliver Hill. Events: 1964 Civil Rights Act, 1965 Voting Rights Act, Brown, Montgomery Bus Boycott, Freedom Rides, March on Washington. History: Jim Crow, literacy tests. Opposition: White resistance. Tactics: Nonviolence, sit-ins.
GRADE C means Virginia 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.
The state of Virginia fully implemented its new History and Social Science Standards of Learning for the first time in the 2010-11 school year. The Virginia Department of Education explains that the state’s Standards of Learning (SOL) and Curriculum Framework “comprise the history, civics and geography content that teachers in Virginia are expected to teach and students are expected to learn.”
In Virginia, history instruction begins in kindergarten. Beginning with fourth grade, it continues in a sequence of courses (Virginia Studies, U.S. History to 1865, U.S. History to Present, Civics & Economics, World History & Geography to 1500, World History & Geography 1500-Present, World Geography, Virginia & U.S. History, Virginia & U.S. Government). For all of these, the state issues four documents: standards, a curriculum framework, the “Enhanced Scope & Sequence” and blueprints for test construction.
Elementary and Middle School
Kindergarten: The History and Social Science Standards of Learning for Virginia Public Schools (2008) require that students learn about Martin Luther King Jr. in kindergarten as part of a unit on national holidays.
Grade 2: Students learn about King as part of civics instruction. He is included in a list with Jackie Robinson, George Washington and others as “Americans whose contributions improved the lives of other Americans.”
Grade 3: In civics, students are asked to identify the contributions of several influential Americans including Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King Jr.
Virginia’s curriculum frameworks for each course are designed to add to the standards by identifying “Essential Understandings, Essential Questions, Essential Knowledge and Essential Skills.”
“Essential Knowledge” is provided for each named figure or event. The information provided for Martin Luther King Jr. (or his holiday) for the early grades shows ascending levels of detail:
• Martin Luther King Jr. Day: This is a day to remember an African American who worked so that all people would be treated fairly. It is observed in January. (Kindergarten)
• Martin Luther King Jr.: He was an African-American minister who worked so that all people would be treated fairly. He led peaceful marches and gave speeches. (Grade 2)
• Martin Luther King Jr.: He was an African-American minister who worked for equal rights for all people. He helped bring about changes in laws through peaceful means. (Grade 3)
Virginia Studies (Grade 4): Standards for the Virginia Studies course discuss state resistance to the events of the civil rights movement: “The student will demonstrate knowledge of twentieth- and twenty-first-century Virginia by … identifying the social and political events in Virginia linked to desegregation and massive resistance and their relationship to national history.”
The curriculum framework clarifies this standard with essential understandings, questions and knowledge reproduced here:
After World War II, African Americans demanded equal treatment and the recognition of their rights as American citizens. As a result of the civil rights movement, laws were passed that made racial discrimination illegal.
What changes occurred in Virginia as a result of the civil rights movement?
Terms to know:
Segregation: The separation of people, usually based on race or religion
Desegregation: Abolishment of racial segregation
Integration: Full equality of people of all races in the use of public facilities and services
Desegregation and Massive Resistance in Virginia
• The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1954 (Brown v. Board of Education) that—separate but equal public schools were unconstitutional.
• All public schools, including those in Virginia, were ordered to desegregate.
• Virginia’s government established a policy of Massive Resistance, which fought to “resist” the integration of public schools.
• Some schools were closed to avoid integration.
• The policy of Massive Resistance failed, and Virginia’s public schools were finally integrated.
• Harry F. Byrd, Sr., led the Massive Resistance movement against the desegregation of public schools.
United States History—1865 to the Present (Grade 6 or 7): Civil rights is mentioned briefly. “The student will demonstrate knowledge of the key domestic and international issues during the second half of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries by:
• examining the civil rights movement and the changing role of women;
• describing the development of new technologies in communication, entertainment, and business and their impact on American life;
• identifying representative citizens from the time period who have influenced America scientifically, culturally, academically, and economically;
• examining American foreign policy, immigration, the global environment, and other emerging issues.”
The curriculum framework for U.S. history after World War II discusses this standard in some depth. The essential understandings, questions and knowledge related to the civil rights movement are reproduced here:
The civil rights movement resulted in legislation that ensured constitutional rights to all citizens of the United States regardless of race.
What were some effects of segregation on American society?
How did the African-American struggle for equality become a mass movement?
How did the law support the struggle for equality for African Americans?
Some effects of segregation
• Separate educational facilities and resources for white and African-American students
• Separate public facilities (e.g., restrooms, drinking fountains, restaurants)
• Social isolation of races
Civil rights movement
• Opposition to Plessy v. Ferguson: “Separate but equal”
• Brown v. Board of Education: Desegregation of schools
• Martin Luther King Jr.: Passive resistance against segregated facilities; “I have a dream...” speech
• Rosa Parks: Montgomery Bus Boycott
• Organized protests, Freedom Riders, sit-ins, marches
• Expansion of the NAACP
• Civil Rights Act of 1964
• Voting Rights Act of 1965
U.S. Government: There is no mention of the civil rights movement per se in the standards for this course. However, the essential knowledge provided in support of one standard, (“The student will demonstrate knowledge of civil liberties and civil rights by … explaining every citizen’s right to be treated equally under the law”) includes reference to the civil rights movement and the history of discrimination.
Virginia and United States History: The standards treat the civil rights movement with more depth than the standards for other courses. One standard requires students to “demonstrate knowledge of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.” It includes two sub-standards, reproduced below along with their accompanying framework-designated understandings, questions and knowledge:
|Standard VUS.14a||Standard VUS.14b|
|identifying the importance of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, the roles of Thurgood Marshall and Oliver Hill, and how Virginia responded||describing the importance of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the 1963 March on Washington, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965|
|Essential Understandings||Essential Understandings|
|By interpreting its powers broadly, the United States Supreme Court can reshape American society.||African Americans, working through the court system and mass protest, reshaped public opinion and secured the passage of civil rights.|
|Essential Questions||Essential Questions|
What was the significance of Brown v. Board of Education?
What roles did Thurgood Marshall and Oliver Hill play in the demise of segregated schools?
How did Virginia respond to the Brown v. Board of Education decision?
How did the 1963 March on Washington influence public opinion about civil rights?
How did the legislative process advance the cause of civil rights for African- Americans?
How did the NAACP advance civil rights for African-Americans?
|Essential Knowledge||Essential Knowledge|
|Brown v. Board of Education|
• Supreme Court decision that segregated schools are unequal and must desegregate
• Included Virginia case
• Thurgood Marshall: NAACP Legal Defense Team
• Oliver Hill: NAACP Legal Defense Team in Virginia
• Massive Resistance: Closing some schools
• Establishment of private academies
|National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)|
• Challenged segregation in the courts.
1963 March on Washington
• The march helped influence public opinion to support civil rights legislation.
• The march demonstrated the power of nonviolent, mass protest.
Civil Rights Act of 1964
• The act desegregated public accommodations.
• President Lyndon B. Johnson played an important role in the passage of the act.
Voting Rights Act of 1965
• Federal registrars were sent to the South to register voters.
• The act resulted in an increase in African- American voters.
• President Johnson played an important role in the passage of the act.
In addition to its standards and frameworks, Virginia provides a detailed scope and sequence and course blueprint for its social studies classes. Tracking the standards listed above, relevant lessons were surveyed for content and messages about the civil rights movement.
While Virginia’s standards devote a good bit of ink to the civil rights movement, they lack necessary breadth. These standards do have potential; some tweaks and expansions could go a long way toward improving the required content.
On the one hand, the state requires students to learn about a number of personalities both within and opposed to the movement, creating rich guidelines for teachers. On the other hand, the state has entirely omitted requirements for students to learn about key movement groups (CORE, SCLC, SNCC) and key opposition groups (the Ku Klux Klan, for instance), making it seem that the movement and its opposition were more about conflicts between individuals than they were highly organized battles using often controversial strategies and tactics.
Virginia’s list of notable events is a bit scattershot— they do not mention Little Rock, the Birmingham protests, Mississippi Freedom Summer, the 24th Amendment or the Selma-to-Montgomery March. On the other hand, they do cover much Virginia history (including Massive Resistance) that is not addressed in our rubric. Unfortunately, this seems to come at the expense of an exploration of national resistance to the civil rights movement.