Teaching the Movement: The State of Civil Rights Education in the United States 2011


x-teachingAs the nation prepared this year to dedicate a monument to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Southern Poverty Law Center undertook a comprehensive review of the coverage accorded the civil rights movement in state educational standards and curriculum frameworks. This report sets out the results of that review. It provides a national report card on the state of civil rights education in our country. Most states, unfortunately, get a failing grade.

Dedicating a memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the National Mall is of great symbolic importance. But if we, as a nation, are to move beyond symbolism, teaching children about the movement beyond “I have a dream” is a national imperative. As Julian Bond wrote in the foreword to the report: “An educated populace must be taught basics about American history. One of these basics is the civil rights movement, a nonviolent revolution as important as the first American Revolution. It is a history that continues to shape the America we all live in today.”

Credit: Prepared by the Southern Poverty Law Center with the oversight of Teaching Tolerance Director Maureen Costello. Researched and written by Kate Shuster. Read the full report here.

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