This video from The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross tells the story of Ella Baker, the unsung hero of the civil rights movement who founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960.
Have students read the article “Nonviolence and Racial Justice, 1957” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and have them discuss the influence of Dr. King’s philosophy on his leadership of the civil rights movement.
Have students summarize and analyze Dr. King’s and Ella Baker’s approaches to the fight for civil rights, including how the two differ, how they are similar, the rationale behind each approach and the impact of their choices.
Have students work in groups to design a poster or infographic conveying either Dr. King’s or Ella Baker's ideas for advancing the civil rights movement. Students need to decide on the central idea or key message and how it can be represented using a combination of text and images. They may want to take a look at sample political posters. Have each group present their ideas with a mock-up of the poster and explain the rationale behind their design decisions. The class could act as judges to ask questions and provide productive critique before groups finalize their work.
Ella Baker believed that the ultimate source of power is at the level where the people are. Have students discuss or write whether they agree with the statement and cite historical and/or contemporary examples that support their argument.
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