American history is, to a great extent, the story of the struggle of diverse groups to achieve the "blessings of liberty" that are promised in the preamble to the Constitution. These "blessings" were not always extended to all Americans. In this lesson, students analyze Jim Crow laws, a state constitution, literacy tests, poll taxes and voting eligibility affidavits to evaluate how these tools enabled states, especially in the south, to avoid recognizing the rights of African Americans. More
From 1869 until 1877--the period known as Reconstruction--southern voters, many of whom were recently freed men, successfully elected more than 600 African American state representatives and 16 members of Congress. More
"If we desire a society of peace, then we cannot achieve such a society through violence. If we desire a society without discrimination, then we must not discriminate against anyone in the process of building this society. If we desire a society that is democratic, then democracy must become a means as well as an end."
Bayard Rustin, in I Must Resist: Bayard Rustin's Life in Letters (San Francisco: City Lights Publishers, 2012).
This powerful program carries you from the post-Civil War promise of citizenship and equality for African Americans to the harsh realities of the system of legal segregation known as "Jim Crow." Between dramatic scenes and short documentaries, watch students discover what primary sources reveal about life under Jim Crow and its effects.More
Proclaim your belief in freedom and equality by ringing the bell.
As the nation marks its 240th birthday this year, so does one of its oldest African-American houses of worship: Williamsburg's historic First Baptist Church. Founded secretly in a Green Springs wood amid revolution, it has survived and thrived through enslavement, Civil War, segregation and today's continued struggles for equality. The church's bell has hung silent since the days of Jim Crow, but has newly been restored by Colonial Williamsburg conservators. The church has invited the nation to come to Williamsburg and ring the bell. The Let Freedom Ring Challenge is call to action for healing, understanding and racial tolerance.
Register to ring the bell at letfreedomringchallenge.org, where you can also watch a lively panel discussion on the role of faith in freedom movements and explore all of Colonial Williamsburg's Black History Month programming. More
At its heart, America is an idea. What keeps this idea vibrant? Debate. The Idea of America™ is a digital U.S. history program that presents our nation's rich history through an original framework that views America as an enduring "Great Debate."
The Idea of America™ is a standards-based, supplemental program you can integrate with your current history curriculum. It comprises 65 case studies-using multimedia and interactive elements-that make primary-source content relevant to today's learners and encourage active citizenship. More