Teacher Resources

Stories of Freedom and Justice
Blog posts, podcasts, videos, and exhibition information related to the struggle for Civil Rights.

National Youth Summit: Abolition
To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History hosted the National Youth Summit on Abolition on February 11, 2013. Experts, scholars, and activists joined together with high school students from around the country and the world in a moderated panel discussion to reflect upon the abolition movement of the 19th century and explore its lessons for the movement to end modern-day slavery and human trafficking. The program featured excerpts from the upcoming AMERICAN EXPERIENCE documentary The Abolitionists, which weaves together the stories of five of the abolition movement’s leading figures: Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Angelina Grimke, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and John Brown.

March on Washington Document-Based Question
This lesson plan uses documents from the exhibition to invite students to reflect on the following question: Scholars of the modern civil rights movement have debated the relative importance of grassroots organizing and so-called ‘charismatic leaders’ in the movement.  Is the March on Washington evidence of the power of grassroots organizing or of charismatic leadership? The student worksheet includes documents, historical background, and writing supports, and the teacher guide provides suggested responses and a project summary.

Resources from the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Youth Guide to the Changing America Exhibition
Use this guide to explore the exhibition, create your own slogan for the march or a protest button, and imagine what it might have been like to experience the event.

Changing America: To Be Free iPad App
Americans reacted to the Emancipation Proclamation in different ways. With Changing America: To Be Free, you can discover firsthand accounts of individual circumstances and reactions. Use the app to go beyond the well-known stories of Emancipation and gain insight into this profound moment in the lives of so many different people. You can search, sort and read personal responses to the Emancipation Proclamation across the north, south and border states from men and women of all ages. This teacher guide provides ideas for using the app in the classroom.