This past weekend, we as a nation recognized the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March. It was the anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’ (one of ours anyway; there have been so many in recent history across the world!), and a real ‘turning point in history’ that all those historians like to talk about.

For civic educators here in Florida, even though it is not specifically addressed within our civics benchmarks, Selma is an event that truly CAN be discussed in our classrooms AND connected back to our benchmarks. Let’s take a moment and discuss questions that can let us introduce Selma, depending on which 7th grade benchmark we are teaching.
SS.7.C.2.4 (Evaluate rights contained in the Bill of Rights and other amendments to the Constitution), SS.7.C.2.5 (Distinguish how the Constitution safeguards and limits individual rights), and SS.7.C.2.6 (Evaluate Constitutional rights and their impact on individuals and society): How does the Constitution protect our right to organize and protest? How might the actions of citizens be shaped by how they interpret the Constitution and its impact on their own lives and on society?

SS.7.C.3.7 (Analyze the impact of the 13th, 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th, and 26th amendments on participation of minority groups in the American political process): In what ways might federal, state, and local governments attempt to challenge the guarantees and promises of the various ‘Civil Rights Amendments’? 

SS.7.C.2.10 (Examine the impact of media, individuals, and interest groups on monitoring and influencing government) and SS.7.C.2.11 (Analyze media and political communications (bias, symbolism, propaganda)): How might the use of media tools, such as television, news reports, film, or photographs by citizens impact the pursuit of civil and Constitutional rights?

These are just possibilities that might serve as a warmup or wrap up to a lesson, or could possibly be integrated within a lesson, and there are other connections that you might make between this recent anniversary and what we are expected to teach in our classrooms. We would love to hear from you about how you recognized this important event, if you had the time and opportunity.

An excellent resource, by the way, has been shared by the White House, and includes conversations with those that were at Selma in 1965. This includes residents, marchers, and public safety officials.

We opened this post with the words of one President. Let’s close with another. The distance, time, and circuumstances between the two men is vast, and yet both tell us something of civics then and civics now. How much has changed, for them, for us, and most importantly, for our students?