Lesson Plan

The Liberty Bell as a Symbol for Civil Rights, grades 4-8

Black and white photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., an African-American male, showing head and shoulders.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. participated in a wreath laying at the Liberty Bell in 1959.

Library of Congress

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Grade Level:
Fourth Grade-Eighth Grade
Civil Rights Movement, Community, History, Social Studies
Two class sessions
Group Size:
Up to 36
National/State Standards:
Reading Information Text RI 5.1, Writing W 5.4, Reading History RH (6-8).1, RH (6-8).2, RH (6-8).7
Liberty Bell, Civil Rights, Freedom, Symbolism


Students will examine primary sources to discover the connection between the inscription on the Liberty Bell and the Civil Rights Movement.


Students will understand the connection between symbolism used during the Civil Rights era and the symbol of the Liberty Bell by examining primary sources.


  • Primary sources - "We Shall Overcome" lyrics, two political cartoons, Harper's Weekly magazine cover, "I Have a Dream" speech
  • Internet access for the class to gather information about the Civil Rights era (students may work in partners)
  • Saving the Liberty Bell picture book by Marty Rhodes Figley - ISBN 1-57505-696-8 - to provide background on the Liberty Bell
  • Poster paper, markers, art materials - for designing poster, song, poem, advertisement
  • Chart paper, markers
  • Highlighters - one for each student 



Use the rubric in conjunction with the following assessment project to test your students' understanding of the material presented in the lesson. Tell students:

  • "You've been hired by a local organization to write a speech or song, draw a political cartoon, or design an advertisement, stamp, or poster to teach other students about the Liberty Bell and how it has been an important symbol of freedom. Design your piece including the Liberty Bell, and write a paragraph explaining what the Liberty Bell symbolizes in your piece, and why you feel your piece would be a successful example of the Liberty Bell. Be prepared to share."

Park Connections

 This lesson plan helps students understand the history of this international symbol of liberty.


Liberty Bell, discrimination, segregation, black and white, freedom, rights, support, African American, sit in, march, peace, independence, Philadelphia, Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., NAACP, non-violent protests, freedom, support, teamwork, liberty, peace, independence, Philadelphia, symbol, Independence Hall.

Last updated: September 11, 2015