TwHP Lessons

From Canterbury to Little Rock: The Struggle for Educational Equality for African Americans

[Cover photo] Prudence Crandall Museum
(Courtesy of the Prudence Crandall Museum, Canterbury, Connecticut.)

[Cover photo] Little Rock Central High
(Photo by and courtesy of Tod Swiecichowski)


n the southwest corner of the main crossroads in the town of Canterbury, Connecticut, stands a gracious house. Although it resembles many other houses in the area in appearance, this house stands apart because of the unique role it played in promoting the educational opportunities of African Americans prior to the Civil War. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1991, the house is open to the public as the Prudence Crandall Museum. It has changed little since events here in the early 1830s focused national attention on abolition and the rights of African Americans to a quality education.

At the intersection of 14th and Park Streets in Little Rock, Arkansas, stands a large high school. Although it may resemble other large urban high schools built in the 1920s, Central High School captured the attention of the nation in 1957, when nine African-American students attempted to integrate Little Rock's schools. In 1998, the building, already a National Historic Landmark, was designated as Central High School National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park System.

Canterbury, Connecticut, and Little Rock, Arkansas, are links in a chain of events representing the long struggle for equal educational opportunities for African Americans. This lesson plan highlights two important historic places and the role each played in testing the prevailing assumptions of the time regarding racial integration of schools. It also tells the story of conflict between the rule of law and the rule of the mob, and the importance of a free press in exposing social injustice.


About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. Eastern half of the United States

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. Prudence Crandall and the Canterbury
 Female Boarding Academy

 2. All Eyes on Little Rock Central High

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. Prudence Crandall Museum, exterior
 2. Prudence Crandall Museum, exterior
 3. Prudence Crandall Museum, front entry
 4. Prudence Crandall Museum,
 northeast parlor

 5. Little Rock Central High
 6. Little Rock Central High, entrance
 7. One of the "Little Rock Nine" braves
 a jeering crowd

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. The Road to Educational Equality
 2. From Canterbury to Little Rock
 3. The History of Public Education in the
 Local Community

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Central High School National Historic Site

This lesson is based on Little Rock Central High School and the Prudence Crandall Museum, two of the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Both properties have been designated National Historic Landmarks.




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