Monday, June 29

The Watsons Go to Birmingham + Civil Rights Movement

Imagine a world where the choices you made, and opportunities you were offered, all stemmed from the color of your skin....welcome to Birmingham, 1963.

Despite the abolition of slavery, very little had been accomplished toward equal rights for blacks and white after the Civil War ended.  Throughout the country, African Americans were often subjected to discrimination, but nowhere was it as extreme as in the South. There, many public areas, such as restaurants, schools, playgrounds, motels, bathrooms, and drinking fountains, were racially segregated.  They could only be used by the indicated race - Whites or Coloreds.  The facilities for blacks were always of poorer quality. Many states passed laws that affected African Americans’ opportunities for schooling, housing, and employment.

In 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public schools could no longer be segregated.  The most extreme confrontation over this desegregation took place at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957.  At the time this book takes place, the civil rights movement, which had begun in the late 1950's, was gaining momentum.  Not since the Reconstruction period after the Civil War had so much ground been gained on the equal-rights front.  Black leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Medgar Evers, and Thurgood Marshall led black and white activists in peaceful protests, including marches, sit-ins, boycotts, and rallies.

On August 28, 1963, 200,000 people marched on Washington, D.C., to pressure Congress to pass the Civil Rights Bill.  Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech at this march.  Freedom Riders - usually college students from northern schools - rode south to help register African-American voters. (see photo above) One of the most shocking crimes committed during the civil rights movement was the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 15, 1963. When a bomb went off during Sunday school, four young girls were killed. This event is in the book.

Our spine novel for this unit is The Watsons Go to Birmingham

You may also enjoy the open & go Online Unit Study for Martin Luther King Jr!

Access the complete unit in the American History Novel Studies Bundle!

Includes sixteen unit studies covering American History. Each unit addresses a new topic, spanning the Revolutionary War to Vietnam.  Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.

  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.
  • Some units also have cooking projects.

These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together. Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!

Product sample:  Paper Son & Angel Island Immigration  & Within These Lines & Japanese Internment

  • Casualties of War & Vietnam War
  • No Promises in the Wind & the Great Depression
  • Out of the Dust & the Dust Bowl
  • The Watsons Go to Birmingham & Civil Rights
  • Dusty Sourdough & Alaska
  • The King of Mulberry Street & Ellis Island Immigration
  • Paper Son & Angel Island Immigration
  • The Red Menace & McCarthyism
  • Johnny Tremain & Faces of the American Revolution
  • Sounder & Sharecropping
  • World War II Code Talkers
  • Flashback Four: Hamilton-Burr Duel
  • Within These Lines & Japanese Internment Camps
  • Flashback Four: Titanic Mission
  • Flashback Four: Lincoln Project
  • The Diviners / The Great Gatsby & Roaring Twenties

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