Lesson Plan

Home Instruction Handouts Resources

Urban Dreams OUSD Curriculum Unit:
"There Was A Certain Type of Fire That No Water Could Put Out…"
Personal Stories of Liberation from The Civil Rights Movement
Developed by Maliika Herd-Chambers and Stan Pesick
Subject: Social Studies
Grade Level: 11th



The purpose of this unit is to help students draw connections between the people and events that helped shape the history of the Civil Rights Movement and the social issues that influence their lives and choices today. Through the process of research, analytical and reflective writing, students will study why and how individuals struggled to change their lives and the world around them through their involvement with a social movement. They will investigate the degree of personal sacrifice that individuals had to make for the collective benefit of all.


The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.


By the end of this unit, students will:

understand the reasons individuals joined a movement to effect social change.
identify and evaluate the strategies people used to effect change in their lives and in the lives of their communities.
determine how individual sacrifice can lead to collective and individual benefit.
identify people who helped to advance the cause of civil rights for all citizens and evaluate their historical significance.
compare and contrast their ideas about personal and social change to the ideas, within the context the 1950s and 1960s, of the historical individuals they studied.
identify a contemporary social issue and discuss their motivation for implanting social change


Why and how do people struggle for social justice?


What changes would you like to make in your life in the lives of people in your community? Why these changes? How will you go about trying to make these changes?
What challenges might you meet as you try to make this challenges and how will you meet these challenges?
What were the motivations and goals of the people who joined the Civil Rights Movement? What challenges did they meet and what strategies for overcoming these challenges did they adopt? How were their goals, challenges, and strategies tied to the specific time and place in they lived?
How do your goals, reasons, and strategies for achieving personal and social change compare and contrast to the goals and strategies of the people who joined the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s.


I. Have students return (day 9 or 10) to their initial response to the question on handout #2,"What did Dr. King mean when he said, "there is a certain kind of fire that no water can put out? How does this idea connect to the events and individuals of the civil rights movement?" and using what they have learned through this unit, revise their response. This work can be done as an in-class quiz done without any notes, or an open-note assignment done at home.

II. Essay on the following topic – "What similaritie and differences are there between the changes you want to make, and the strategies you might use, and the changes people who joined the civil rights movement wanted to make and the strategies they used?"