Black Lives Matter: A Teaching Module
This teaching module is designed to help students understand the key events, important terms, and cultural significance of the Black Lives Matter movement through primary documents, art, poetry, essays, and video.
Included is a short assignment with examples for student curated work and a resource list for instructors.
In this module, we will take a critical look at the history, social, and political effects of the Black Lives Matter movement. We will watch documentaries, look at the protest songs and art, discuss critically what we have learned. Finally it will be your turn to curate a living document of student experiences and your own connection to this history.
- Key Events & Timelime
- Important Terms
- Art, Poetry, Essays, Documentaries
- Assignment for Student: Curate and Document BLM (Sample)
- Further Reading (for instructors)
Key Timelines and Events
As you read news reports about the key events that shaped the Black Lives Matter movement, think about how these events shaped history and created a national and global push for change.
Black Lives Matter is an American social movement that began in 2013 after the hashtag #blacklivesmatter went viral in 2013.
- 2012 - 2013
- 17 year old Trayvon Martin is shot and killed by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter and acquitted. Alicia Garza writes a love letter to black people in which she ends with the word, "our lives matter". The #blacklivesmatter hastag created by Patrisse Cullors goes viral. Opal Tometi is also involved in expanding social media and community activism.
- 2014 - 2015
- Eric Garner and Michael Brown were both killed by white police officers. The protests in Ferguson, Missouri were so explosive that a state of emergency was declared. Both police officers involved in the two separate shootings were were not found to have committed crimes. Demonstrations continued nationwide.
- The Department of Justice investigates the Ferguson Police Department and finds patterns of unlawful conduct that violates the constituition. The Black Lives Matter movement is credited with direct involvement in several protests.
- In late 2014, protests in Minneapolis at the Mall of America give the organization national significance.
- In 2015, Black Lives Matter begins Campaign Zero, an endeavor to change policies in policing at local, state, and federal levels.
- The video of George Floyd's death sparks ongoing protests in the US and around the world.
Sources & Links:
Chase, Garrett. “THE EARLY HISTORY OF THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT, AND THE IMPLICATIONS THEREOF.” Scholars Law Journal.
(url for links above)
Have you ever wondered what some of Black Lives Matter terms and hashtags mean? Read these definitions and consider their significance.
"Black Lives Matter"
- A political and social movement originating among African Americans, emphasizing basic human rights and racial equality for black people and campaigning against various forms of racism. Abbreviations: BLM, B.L.M
No Justice, No Peace
- The idea that as long as injustice prevails, acting peacefully is a moral impossibility
"I Can't Breathe"
- The last words of Eric Garner when he was killed by police officers by putting him in a chokehold while arresting him in the New York City borough of Staten Island on July 17, 2014. Ironically these were the same last words uttered by George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, who died in Minneapolis, Minnesota when a white police officer, knelt on Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes. “I Can’t Breathe" has became the rallying cry for protests fighting over-policing in the U.S. and across the globe.
"Hands Up, Don't Shoot"
- A rallying cry and gesture that began after the August 9, 2014, shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The phrase implies one has their hands in the air, an indication of submission, and is not a threat to law enforcement
"Say His Name/ Say Her Name"
This refrain originated as a collective commitment to honor women unjustly killed by law enforcement officers. The remix of the mantra takes on special significance because it recognizes how popular media historically underreports the pain and suffering of women in the United States.
- The support for people with whom you have a common goal. The person showing their solidarity through action is an ally.
"All Lives Matter"
- Emerged as a reactionary movement. All Lives Matter represents the concerns about the potentially divisive message of Black Lives Matter as deep racial tensions sweep the country. It implies that all people suffer equal oppression, mitigating the unique and pressing threats to Black lives specifically.
"Defunding the Police"
- The concept of reallocating funds and resources from law enforcement towards community-based programs such as education and health care.
- The support with whom you have a common goal. The person showing their solidarity through action is an ally. An accomplice elevates the allyship by working to dismantle systems of oppression.
Racial Equity Resources for WCPSS Educators: https://tfcloudshare.com/wcpssoea/racial-equity-resources/
Daily Bruin: https://dailybruin.com/2020/07/05/the-blm-glossary-hashtags-and-terms-to-know
Art, Poetry, Essays, and Documentaries.
Use these link to look at visual art inspired by the Black Lives Matter Movement, poetry and essays, and documentaries.
Assignment for Students: Curate and Document BLM (Sample)
For this assignment, you will:
- Curate one primary resource of your own about BLM
- Write a short response about your experiences with this resource.
Your primary resource can be a picture you take, a drawing,an image or video online (cite sources). Your short response should be at least 200 words. Use first person narrative and illustrate your own connection, experience, and understanding of your primary resource.
Sample of Student Work:
Albert Torres - Image from: ISABEL INFANTES/Getty Images, 12/25, London
Carmon Rolon - Image from: Carmon Rolon, 2020
Alex De La Rosa - Image from:https://news.uchicago.edu/black-lives-matter-protests-hope-future
Further Reading (for Instructors)
Resources for Instructors on Black Lives Matter
- FergusonSyllabus on Twitter
crowd-sourced updates to the syllabus
- How to Teach Kids About What's Happening in Ferguson | The Atlantic
A crowdsourced syllabus about race, African American history, civil rights, and policing (see also #fergusonsyllabus on Twitter)
- Lemonade Syllabus - Candice Benbow
Created by black women in the wake of Beyonce's Lemonade project, this is a collection of black feminist and womanist readings.
- Pod Save the People - DeRay Mckesson
Organizer and activist DeRay Mckesson takes you inside conversations about culture, social justice, and politics by exploring the history, language, and people who are shaping the struggle for progress — and talking about the steps that each of us can take to make a difference.
- Teaching #BlackLivesMatter | Teaching for Change
Suggestions for teaching about police brutality, the history of racism, international human rights, militarization of the police, student fear and resilience, and housing inequality
- Free resources from the book “Teaching for Black Lives,” Rethinking Schools
- Teaching Guide, Seattle Education Association
- Classroom Lessons Seattle Education Association
- Teaching for Black Lives, Edited By Dyan Watson, Jesse Hagopian, Wayne Au. Rethinking Schools.
- Black Lives Matter at School website of the national coalition organizing for racial justice in education.
- 2020 Curriculum Resource Guide, BlackLivesMatteratSchool.com
- Creating the Space to Talk about Race in Your School (PDF), National Education Association
- Lessons by grade-level and educator resources, Washington DC Black Lives Matter
- Classroom Activities, Circle Scripts, and Promoting Positive School Climate, Rochester City School District
- Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools – Schedule and Resources, DC Area Educators for Social Justice
- Discussing Race, Racism and Other Difficult Topics With Students NEA and Teaching Tolerance Webinar