Use the Activities
The experiences of the New Kent County schools are emblematic of many other schools in the South during the 1950s and 1960s. The following activities are designed to help students understand some of the personal stories of those individuals that experienced segregation and desegregation in the U.S. and the history of their own local schools and communities in relation to the movement to end segregation.
Activity 1: Oral Interviews--Preserving a piece of history
Activity 2: History of My School
If possible, have students use newspapers, yearbooks, and other primary materials to construct a history of their school or a school in their community from 1954-1970 (essentially from the Brown decision through the implementation of the Green decision). Students should then write a paper comparing the situation in their community and school with the situation in New Kent County, Virginia. Was the school segregated or integrated during this time period? How was the situation similar or dissimilar to that in New Kent County? What local, regional, or state factors might contribute to these similarities or differences? What, if any, physical differences existed between local schools and the New Kent schools, and what if any significance do those differences have in the history of segregation and desegregation?
Activity 3: First person account
Based on the materials created from Activities 1 and 2, as well as the readings from this lesson plan, have students write a journal entry from the perspective of a person who lived and experienced segregation in schools. Students should take into account the time between the Brown decision and the Green decision, and the subsequent integration of public schools. Hold a classroom discussion about the journal entries and have students discuss the different perspectives in relation to desegregation.