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Teaching Guide

Teaching Civil Rights Movement: "Black Power" Era

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Movements, like teachers, can take on all sorts of different tones and voices. They can be gentle one minute and forceful the next. The Black Power Era of the Civil Rights Movement is the latter.

In this guide you will find

  • activities asking students to compare and contrast figures of the movement with prominent figures today.
  • assignments on Martin Luther King, Jr., the Black Panthers, and Malcolm X.
  • timelines clarifying the progression of events.

This guide is pure Shmoop power.

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  • 3-5 Common Core-aligned activities (including quotation, image, and document analysis) to complete in class with your students, with detailed instructions for you and your students. 
  • Discussion and essay questions for all levels of students.
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Instructions for You

Malcolm X was sharply critical of the1963 March on Washington. In this writing assignment (or discussion), your students will analyze the meaning and legitimacy of a quotation summarizing Malcolm X's assessment of the movement as it had evolved under the leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr.

1. Share this quotation with tour students.

"It's just like when you get some coffee that's too black, which mean it's too strong. What do you do? You integrate it with cream, you make it weak. But if you pour too much cream in it, you won't even know you ever had coffee. It used to be hot, it becomes cool. It used to be strong, it becomes weak. It used to wake you up, now it puts you to sleep."

2. Within an essay or in a discussion, ask your students to explain Malcolm X's meaning and consider the extent to which he was or was not correct. In doing so, they might consider the following questions.

  • What did alliance with white reformers do to the movement, according to Malcolm X?
    • Was he right?
      • What did the early phases of the movement accomplish?
        • How significant were these accomplishments?
      • What did it not accomplish?
        • How significant were these failures?
    • To what extent did a white presence in the movement limit its objectives?
      • Is there any evidence that King's white supporters would not tolerate a more ambitious agenda?
  • Did the movement have to pass through this first phase before moving to a second, more militant phase?
  • Or did this first phase just waste time and raise false expectations

TEKS Standards: §113.41. United States History Studies Since 1877 b1, b2, c2A, c2B, c9A, c9D, c26A, c30A c30B

Instructions for Your Students

While many celebrated 250,000 white and black Americans marching on the nation's capital in 1963, Malcolm X believed that it was detrimental to the real needs of African Americans. Look at this quote by Malcolm X. What is he saying? Is he correct?

"It's just like when you get some coffee that's too black, which mean it's too strong. What do you do? You integrate it with cream, you make it weak. But if you pour too much cream in it, you won't even know you ever had coffee. It used to be hot, it becomes cool. It used to be strong, it becomes weak. It used to wake you up, now it puts you to sleep."

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Intro    Summary & Analysis    Timeline    People    Facts    Photos    Best of the Web    Citations    Test Review    
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