Student Engagement and Contemporary Connections



And the Youth Shall Lead Us: 16 Stories of Youth on the Frontlines of U.S. Social Movements
By Allison Acosta, Allyson Criner Brown, and Deborah Menkart

Examples of young people at the forefront of social movements throughout U.S. history.

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I’m a black activist. Here’s what people get wrong about Black Lives Matter.
By Vann Newkirk

Exploring the similarities and differences between the Black Lives Matter movement and the Civil Rights Movement.



Seven Things We Learned From the D.C. Area Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools
By Allison Acosta, Faye Colon, and Deborah Menkart

Over the last several years, we have seen the power of the Black Lives Matter Movement to raise awareness and discourse nationally about race and racism in the United States. Now we’ve seen the power these conversations can have in the classroom.



Radical Equations: The Algebra Project
By Robert Moses and Charles Cobb Jr.

The Algebra Project draws on the organizing tradition of the Civil Rights Movement to help young people find their voice and achieve math literacy.



Food Justice Youth Summit

A school in Washington, D.C. holds an annual Food Justice Youth Summit to share their research and build awareness about food justice issues.



National History Day Projects

Examples of National History Day Projects that highlight youth activists.


Teaching Reflection

The March on John Philip Sousa: A Social Action Project
By Elizabeth A. Davis

Students fight to save a historic D.C. school building that was part of the Brown v. Board of Education court case.


Teaching Reflection

Pearson Erases Paul Robeson from History: Students Write 100 Letters to Challenge Omission
By Ken Giles

Decades ago, Paul Robeson was censored from most school books, and it was hard to find his recordings or films. In recent years, Robeson has enjoyed a renaissance of interest and approval; he is even on a U.S. postage stamp. But Paul Robeson is not mentioned in the Making Music text (Silver Burdett/Pearson) used by many school districts.


Teaching Reflection

Kids Make History: Student Travel Study
By Colleen Bell and Susan Oppenheim

In 1963, thirty-three young African-American girls were arrested during a civil rights protest in Americus, Georgia. The “Stolen Girls” were transported to and held in an abandoned Civil War-era prison for almost two months. An excerpt from Colleen Bell’s notes dramatizes what a group of sixth, seventh and eighth graders and their teachers experienced when they traveled South to meet Carol Barner Seay and Sandra Mansfield, two of the Stolen Girls.

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Teaching Activity

Raise Your Voice: The Role of Media in Black Activism
By Rachel Reinhard, Berkeley History-Social Science Project

Students explore how various forms of media have been used throughout history to shine a light on instances of state-sanctioned violence against the Black community. 


Teaching Activity

Si Se Puede! Yes, We Can!
By Marcy Fink Campos

Using the bilingual children's book Si Se Puede! Yes, We Can! to explore ways to organize for change, labor issues, and help students connect to workers in their own schools.


Teaching Activity

Marching for Civil Rights Today: A Collaborative Mural
By Patty Bode

This mural making activity raises students' awareness of current civil rights issues and injustices helps them see the relevance and deeper understanding of the Civil Rights Movement.


Teaching Activity

By Kimberly Spotts

Through poetry and images, students learn how words can be used as a way to reflect and inform others of issues of society and reflect on police brutality.


Teaching Activity

Milo’s Museum
By Deborah Menkart

Teaching idea for use with Zetta Elliott’s book Milo’s Museum.


Recommended books, films, and more for further learning about Student Engagement and Contemporary Connections.

Teaching Reflection

High School Students Produce Award-Winning Film on Ella Baker

Two St. Paul, Minnesota high school students—Siena Leone-Getten and Paying Lor—decided to learn more about this influential woman who remains so hidden in history.

Teaching Reflection

Marion Barry Shares Memories with High School Students

This interview was conducted on March 24, 2011 by students from McComb High School and the Urban School of San Francisco as part of the Telling Their Stories Oral History Archives Project. 

Teaching Reflection

National History Day: Focus on Local Mississippi History
To help Mississippi students prepare local history projects for National History Day, here are local history awards, topic ideas, sample entries, and resources.


Uncovering Mississippi’s Hidden History: How to Participate

All too often students learn about national heroes and not the people in their own state and communities who have made history, behind the scenes. Now students and teachers have a mechanism for teaching others about Mississippi people’s history, beyond the headlines.