This lesson explores the most recent constitutional expansion of voting rights: extending them to people between 18 and 21 years of age. Students will read the 26th Amendment and learn about its history. They will view an NBC report from Nov. 5, 2008, that explains how important the youth vote was to the election of Barack Obama. Finally, they will examine the results of a recent study showing that young voters have very different concerns than older voters, and hypothesize about how young voters might affect elections in 2012 and beyond.
Before conducting this activity, educators may want to discuss historical information about racism and diversity issues. In the story The Sneetches, written by Dr. Seuss, yellow bird-like creatures take students on an adventure where green stars become the symbol of discrimination and privilege. After reading the story aloud, let students participate in the following activities that can be adapted with or without the story.
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This activity asks students to read and compare the language of selected civil rights legislation.By tracing the changes in language (from "handicapped" to "people with disabilities," for example) and the necessity of restating and reinforcing Constitutional rights, the analysis likewise asks them to think about prejudice, stigma and fundamental rights and freedoms.
In this lesson, students will study Morgan’s speech to better understand the civil rights movement and the value of speaking out against injustice.
This lesson is the third in a series called Expanding Voting Rights. The overall goal of the series is for students to explore the complicated history of voting rights in this country. Two characteristics of that history stand out: First, in fits and starts, more and more Americans have gained the right to vote; and second, the federal government has played an increasing role over time in securing these rights.