The Civil Rights Memorial

In this lesson, students will work from core readings and then apply creative and critical thinking skills to design a monument for one of these later movements.
Grade Level


Students will:

  • Use reading strategies to understand the vocabulary and themes of a news story;
  • Share and teach what they learned with others;
  • Use reading strategies to interpret a timeline;
  • Use creative thinking skills to apply what they have learned.
Essential Questions
  • What can we learn from the past?
  • Can a society ever be truly free of prejudice and discrimination?
  • How do people influence a society?
  • What are my responsibilities in creating positive social change?
  • What do good readers do to help them better understand the text?


memorial [ mə ˈmôrēəl ] (noun) something, esp. a structure, established to remind people of a person or event

monument [ ˈmänyəmənt ] (noun) a statue, building, or other structure erected to commemorate a famous or notable person or event

martyr [ ˈmärtər ] (noun) a person who loses his life for a cause

civil rights [ ˈsivəl rītz ] (plural noun) the rights of citizens to political and social freedom and equality

social justice [ ˈsō sh əl ˈjəstis ] (noun) movement toward a society based on principles of human rights and equality

social change [ ˈsō sh əl ch ānj ] (noun) acts of advocacy that advance causes that are subjectively seen as more desirable for a society

symbol [ ˈsimbəl ] (noun) a thing that represents or stands for something else, esp. a material object representing something abstract; a shape or sign used to represent something such as an organization, e.g., a red cross or a Star of David.


  1. Find a reading partner. Read "The March Continues" excerpt. Work together to discuss difficult vocabulary or confusing parts.
  2. Fill out the Describing Wheel. Focus on the impact of the Civil Rights Memorial. Who does it honor? Why should they be honored? Why was a memorial needed? 
  3. Share some of your describing words with the class. Explain why you selected them.
  4. Discuss the words presented to the class. Write a couple of sentences. In them, explain why you think the Civil Rights Memorial was created.
  5. Count off from one to five. Form a group with classmates who have the same number.
  6. As a group, review the information in your timeline. Discuss ideas for creating a monument or memorial. What events or people should be remembered?
  7. Think about the Civil Rights Memorial as you discuss your monument. Consider:
    • What message(s) do you want your memorial or monument to convey?
    • What should it look like? Should it be big or small? What colors, materials, textures and shapes might be best?
    • Should there be words on your memorial or monument?  Should there be symbols? If so, what words and symbols would you include?
    • Where should your memorial or monument be placed? Why?
  8. Create a sketch of your memorial or monument. Take turns sharing your drawings with the class. Explain why you came up with your design.
  9. Write for three minutes on one or both sides of a note card. Think about what you have learned while designing your monument. Then think about this quote from J. Richard Cohen, the head of the Southern Poverty Law Center. "It's up to each of us to ensure that the march for justice continues." How does creating a monument help the march for justice? What other things can people do?
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Welcome to Learning for Justice—Formerly Teaching Tolerance!

Our work has evolved in the last 30 years, from reducing prejudice to tackling systemic injustice. So we’ve chosen a new name that better reflects that evolution: Learning for Justice.

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