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Melba Pattillo and Ruby Bridges: Two Pioneers of School Integration
Students put themselves in the shoes of the students who integrated Little Rock High School in 1957-58. Note: The primary resources in this activity provide powerful and poignant descriptions of what those students faced.
Ruby Bridges, Melba Pattillo, Little Rock, integration, civil rights, Black History, African American, hero, Martin Luther King, Thurgood Marshall
In this lesson, students read the recollections of two women who were among the pioneers of school integration in the Deep South.
Introduce students to the two women:
Share the resources below with students; they are reflections of two girls experiences that were written by the girls as grown women. You might share these pages as a class, or students might read them online or in printed form on their own.
After reading those resources, you might also:
After sharing the thoughts of those two women as they look back on their early experiences, challenge students to attempt to put themselves in the shoes of one of those two girls; ask students to write a journal entry that one of the girls might have written after the first week in their new school.
Additional Resources: Some of the following resources will offer students added background about, and a little more insight into, the experiences of Pattillo and Bridges:
Little Rock Integration Project
The photos and documents in this excellent compilation of resources, which includes Elizabeth Eckford Goes to School, offer disturbing and poignant glimpses into the events in Little Rock.
The 1957-58 School Year
A timeline of events that year at Little Rock High School.
The Little Rock Nine
This resource tells what became of the nine students who integrated Little Rock High School.
Articles from 1957-58 issues of The Tiger, the student newspaper at Little Rock High School.
Students publish their diary entries for their classmates to read.
Lesson Plan Source
LANGUAGE ARTS: English
GRADES K - 12
NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.5 Communication Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.6 Applying Knowledge
NL-ENG.K-12.8 Developing Research Skills
NL-ENG.K-12.9 Multicultural Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills
SOCIAL SCIENCES: Civics
GRADES K - 4
NSS-C.K-4.2 Values and Principles of Democracy
NSS-C.K-4.5 Roles of the Citizen
GRADES 5 - 8
NSS-C.5-8.3 Principles of Democracy
NSS-C.5-8.5 Roles of the Citizen
GRADES 9 - 12
NSS-C.9-12.3 Principles of Democracy
NSS-C.9-12.5 Roles of the Citize
SOCIAL SCIENCES: U.S. History
GRADES K - 4
NSS-USH.K-4.1 Living and Working together in Families and Communities, Now and Long Ago
NSS-USH.K-4.3 The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic, and Political Heritage
GRADES 5 - 12
NSS-USH.5-12.9 Era 9: Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)