7. Coalition Building: From COFO to Freedom Summer

7. Coalition Building: From COFO to Freedom Summer

Beautiful Agitators Lesson Plan: Scene Nine & Scene 10


LESSON: Coalition Building

DR. HENRY:  Mississippi has so violently distorted the national dream that these young Americans want to help the hundreds of thousands of us who have been denied the right to vote! Soon the saying will be true. “Hands that pick cotton now can pick our public officials!” 


  1. Students will recognize the role of Dr. Aaron Henry and the leadership he provided to COFO in order to build the coalition of organizations to support the collective mission of the Freedom Summer campaign.
  2. Students will identify the goals of Freedom Summer.

 Students will be expected to answer the following:

  1. Who was Dr. Aaron Henry and what was his role in the civil rights movement? (NAACP, COFO)
  2. Identify the organizations named in the speech delivered by Aaron Henry in the script.
  3. What was the importance of building a coalition?
  4. Why is Dr. Aaron Henry working so hard to build unity?
  5. What was the vision of Freedom Summer?

ACTIVITY: Source Investigators

After reading the scene Aaron Henry Speaks to COFO, students will work in groups to search the digital Freedom Summer archive at Wisconsin History Freed Summer Project. Students will be asked to answer the questions above and support their answers using quotes from the scene and documents they have located in the archives. Students will regroup to discuss their findings and share the primary source documents they chose to utilize.


Building a coalition of allied organizations spanning multiple regions and generations is key to leveraging change. Where can we observe coalition building today? Find a current issue and develop a plan to build a coalition with a specific action or goal in mind. Students will identify potential coalition members by looking carefully at membership demographics, guiding principles and influence. Each group will write a persuasive speech that addresses the groups involved which appeals to a sense of common interest that could help to galvanize the groups and persuade them to work together toward a common goal.


1 of 4