Making the Nation Whole - Civil Rights and Lyndon Baines Johnson

Social Studies, Grade 4 and 7

Students will understand the details and impact of the civil rights legislation passed during the presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson, as well as the timeline of African American history leading up to the Civil Rights Movement. Students will analyze the legislation and relate it to current events in the United States. Students will create presentations using primary source media to demonstrate their understanding of the legislation, its socio-political context, and its relevance to the present day United States.

  • Prior Knowledge Prior Knowledge
  • Hook Hook
  • Lesson Lesson
  • Resources Resources
  • Lesson Plan Use Lesson Plan Use
  1. The following activity assumes that students have some background knowledge of the history of African American experiences, including enslavement, emancipation, the Civil War and Reconstruction eras, and the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century
  2. Students should have some background knowledge of the concept of civil rights and citizenship.
  3. Students should understand the usage of the word “negro” in the context of the films used in the lesson plan.
  4. Students are assumed to understand the concept of racism and its presence throughout U.S. History.
  5. Students should be aware of the rights allowed to citizens under U.S. Law.
  1. Use the From Slavery to Civil Rights: A Timeline of African American History from the Library of Congress to give an historical overview for your class: 
  2. Discuss some of these historical eras to establish a context for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  3. As a group, view the beginning of Dallas at the Crossroads.
  4. Pause the film at 5:00 for a group discussion of the film’s motivation. Potential questions: What is the subject of this film? Why do you think it was made? Who was the audience? What change do you feel is being discussed?
  5. Skip forward to 11:25 and start the film.
  6. Stop the film at 13:17 and review the original questions. How does the first part of the film relate to the second? What is the subject of this film? Why do you think it was made? Who was the audience? What change do you feel is being discussed?
  7. Discuss the film's details and context as well as its relevance to today’s lesson: This film was created in 1961 by the Dallas Citizens Council to encourage the peaceful integration of the Dallas School System. Although Dallas was beginning the integration process, many Texas schools were still segregated at the time and several key pieces of civil rights legislation had yet to be passed. As a group, have students create a list of other rights that may have been denied to American citizens at the time because of race, nationality, religion, or sex. If background information on civil rights is needed to set the stage, have students share summaries of Civil Rights Acts through 1964 from their textbook or the Civil Rights Timeline. At the end of the activity, the class should have a list of potential discriminatory behaviors that would lead to the need for further civil rights legislation in the early 1960s.
  1. For this lesson, students will be investigating the content of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its impact on American society. Before looking at the bill, watch President Johnson’s Remarks Upon Signing the Civil Rights Bill, July 2, 1964 from 1:00 to 12:00 as a group. Explain that this footage is the live television feed from the signing and would have aired across the nation. You may also want to share the description of the film from the TAMI video library.
  2. Discuss the footage as a group. Questions for discussion: How does this footage compare to Dallas at the Crossroads? What do you expect to find in the legislation? How does this compare to other speeches or national events you have seen on television?
  3. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 has 11 parts/titles. Divide students into groups and give them 10-15 minutes to read an assigned section and summarize it. The text of the act can be found on Our Documents. Although the act is written using legal jargon, students should be able to distill the main points using problem solving skills. 

    Teachers may exclude titles 5 and 8 – 11 with younger students. Titles two and seven are significantly longer than the others. Students can focus on the titles and not the exemptions in these cases (the first sections). Students should prepare to give a summary of their section with an example of an injustice this title might be targeting. The class can combine their description to create a summary of the civil rights act for use in further research.
  4. Using the summary as a guide, students should write an analysis of civil rights in America today with a prompt from current events. Students search for an article using a reputable news source (The New York Times, the Dallas Morning News, etc.) dealing with a civil rights topic. Students should analyze the topic or event’s relationship to the 1964 legislation. Articles could address discrimination, voting rights, segregation, race, gender, nationality, religion, or other relevant topics.
Social Studies, Grade 4
4A - Describe the impact of the Civil War and Reconstruction on Texas

17B – Explain how individuals can participate voluntarily in civic affairs at state and local levels through activities such as holding public officials to their word, writing letters, and participating in historic preservation and service projects

18A – Identify leaders in state, local, and national governments, including the governor, local members of the Texas Legislatures, the local mayor, U.S. senators, local U.S. representatives, and Texans who have been president of the United States

19A – Identify the similarities and differences among various racial, ethnic, and religious groups in Texas

Social Studies, Grade 7
5A – Explain reasons for the involvement of Texas in the Civil War such as states’ rights, slavery, sectionalism, and tariffs

5B – Analyze the political, economic, and social effects of the Civil War and Reconstruction on Texas 

7D - Describe and compare the civil rights and equal rights movements of various groups in Texas in the 20th century and identify key leaders in these movements, including James L. Farmer Jr., Hector P. Garcia, Oveta Culp Hobby, Lyndon B. Johnson, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Jane McCallum, and Lulu Belle Madison White.
21A - Differentiate between, locate, and use valid primary and secondary sources such as computer software, databases, media and news services, biographies, interviews, and artifacts to acquire information about Texas.
21B - Analyze information by sequencing, categorizing, identifying cause-and-effect relationships, comparing, contrasting, finding the main idea, summarizing, making generalizations and predictions, and drawing inferences and conclusions.
21D - Identify points of view from the historical context surrounding an event and the frame of reference that influenced the participants.
21E - Support a point of view on a social studies issue or event.
21F - Identify bias in written, oral, and visual material.
21G - Evaluate the validity of a source based on language, corroboration with other sources, and information about the author.
22D - Create written, oral, and visual presentations of social studies information.
23A - Use a problem-solving process to identify a problem, gather information, list and consider options, consider advantages and disadvantages, choose and implement a solution, and evaluate the effectiveness of the solution.
23B - Use a decision-making process to identify a situation that requires a decision, gather information, identify options, predict consequences, and take action to implement a decision.
All content in this lesson plan is copyright of the Texas Archive of the Moving Image. Use of this lesson plan is free to educators for classroom use. It may not be reproduced without credit or used for commercial purposes.