Skip to main content
lesson

Civil Rights Act of 1964: Quote, Meaning, Context, and Significance

By Stephanie Hasty

Published


Learning Objectives

  • Analyze the Civil Rights Act of 1964, understanding its historical context, key provisions, and significance in the fight against discrimination.
  • Explore the use of language and rhetoric in historical documents.
  • Use technology to create a conversation with others in the class.

Essential Questions

  • How do we define who we are?
  • What is culture and how do we express it?
  • What topics/​ideas are significant to your lives?
  • What topics are relevant and necessary to human relationships?

Media

  • Civil Rights Act of 1964 for students to skim and look through either online or via physical copies
  • Pen or pencil
  • The assignment:
    • If you are using the Google doc link, students will all need access to the Google document. Make duplicates of the quotes as needed based on class size.
    • If you would like students to do the assignment individually, the quotes will need to be passed out and cut up for discussion and reflection later. Copies as needed based on class size.

Class Example

Sphere Civil Rights Class Example Table
Sphere Civil Rights Class Quote Table 1
Sphere Civil Rights Class Quote Table 2
Sphere Civil Rights Class Quote Table 3
Sphere Civil Rights Class Quote Table 4
Sphere Civil Rights Class Quote Table 5
Sphere Civil Rights Class Quote Table 6
Sphere Civil Rights Class Quote Table 7
Sphere Civil Rights Class Quote Table 8
Sphere Civil Rights Class Quote Table 9
Sphere Civil Rights Class Quote Table 10
Sphere Civil Rights Class Quote Table 11
Sphere Civil Rights Class Quote Table 12

Part I: Warm‐​Up: Reflecting on Civil Rights Quotes

Prepare by choosing one of the quotes below, reading it, and understanding how it is important to the civil rights movement. Be prepared to share your analysis with the class. Ask students to briefly sum up the civil rights movement and then introduce the quotes. Ask students to read and reflect individually on the meaning and significance of each quote. Encourage them to consider the emotions and motivations behind the words. They should first write in their notebooks and then take a few minutes to share their findings with the class.

  • “We shall overcome.” (lyrics to a song from the civil rights movement)
  • •“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” (“I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King, Jr.)
  • “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” (Alabama Governor George Wallace, 1963)
  • “We hold these truths to be self‐​evident, that all men are created equal.” (Declaration of Independence)
  • “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” (“Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Part II: The Activity

Directions if Using Google Doc

  • Each class should have a space and section created solely for them. Each student should claim a quote by putting their name where it says “Your Name.”
  • Give each student time to look at their given quote, read it, and analyze it according to the meaning, contexts, and significance.
  • Once students are finished, give them time to read and reflect on other quotes on the document before having a class discussion about the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Directions if Using Paper Copy

  • Each student should be given one of the quotes to work with. A suggestion: Have two copies of each quote so that students can partner up after doing their own work with the quote.
  • Give each student time to work on their own quote and then time to work with a partner to continue work on the quotes.
  • Students should be put in groups of 3 to 4 to discuss the quotes before having a class discussion about the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Have a class discussion about the meaning, context, and significance of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 using the quotes as jumping off places for the discussion.

Part III: Reflection

Have students get out their notebooks and answer any or all of the questions below:

  • What was the overall impact of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
  • How has the language and rhetoric in the act contributed to its importance?

Closing the Lesson

These can be used at the end of class to bring the topics of today’s lessons together:

  • What is the significance of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for all of us today?

Common Core State Standards

  • RI.9–10.1/RI.11–12.1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • RI.9–10.2/RI.11–12.2: Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text.
  • W.9–10.1/W.11–12.1: Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
  • W.9–10.2/W.11–12.2: Write informative/​explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately.
  • SL.9–10.1/SL.11–12.1: Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
  • L.9–10.4/L.11–12.4: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple‐​meaning words and phrases based on grades 9–10 and grades 11–12 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
  • RI.9–10.7/RI.11–12.7: Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.