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Gallery + Classroom Program: STL Civil Rights Legacy

Dates Available: August 28, 2017–April 13, 2018

Grade Level: K–5th, 6th–12th

Minimum Number of Students: 25 students

Maximum Number of Students: 70 students

Gallery Visited: #1 in Civil Rights: The African American Freedom Struggle in St. Louis

Program Duration: 2 hours

This landmark exhibition examines the rich and longstanding civil rights history in St. Louis. From the first civil rights demonstration in the country on the steps of the Old Courthouse, to the freedom suit of Dred and Harriet Scott, to the modern Black Lives Matter movement, there is a strong legacy of civil rights activism in St. Louis.

Please note: Some of the oral histories in this exhibition use language that may offend or upset some visitors.

More About This Gallery + Classroom Program
This program aims to expand and deepen students’ traditional understanding of the civil Rights movement to include those working long before and after the 1950s and 1960s here in their hometown. Students will visit three areas of the exhibition that represent different time periods in St. Louis’s history. There they'll learn about the historical and social context and the agency of the individuals highlighted. Participatory conversations, hands-on activities, and a short theatre performance will extend students’ understanding of the exhibition.

In the Gallery
During the gallery tour, students will become historians, investigating the people, events, and artifacts of St. Louis's civil rights history from the early 1800s to today. Students will define and connect their own rights to those that activists fought for in the past. They'll also think about their own agency to protect their rights and the rights of others.

  • At Stop 1 students will investigate some of the city’s earliest activists, including John and Mary Meachum, Lucy Delaney, and Charlton Tandy. Students will compare and contrast the actions each activist took and evaluate their outcomes.
  • At Stop 2 students will activate their historical imagination as they learn protest songs used at the Jefferson Bank sit-ins in the 1960s. Students will interpret how historic activists felt as they fought for civil rights.
  • At Stop 3 students will compare and contrast the stories told by some of the many different artifacts MHM gathered through its Ferguson Collecting Initiative. They'll also discover the importance of collecting today to ensure diverse stories, like those of the events in Ferguson, are told in the future. 

Please note that the above stops may not occur in chronological order. Also, portions of each stop may be cut out if your group arrives late.

In the Classroom
Following the tour, students will explore additional primary-source documents in a classroom activity while forging a personal connection to the people, places, and events of St. Louis's black history.

  • K–5th: While the gallery explicitly addresses the freedom struggle for African Americans, younger students will have the opportunity to explore the broader context of civil rights in the classroom. They'll evaluate how activists communicate their messages through images and words. Then they'll identify and explain issues they care about and create a poster that advocates for their views.
  • 6th–12th: Older students will practice their media literacy skills by analyzing different newspaper reports on various St. Louis events, including the Dred Scott decision, the Jefferson Bank protests, and the events in Ferguson. They'll identify facts and opinions, as well as compare and contrast the overall tone of different articles. Students will be challenged to evaluate the media's role in shaping public opinion on important events in the civil rights movement. 

Please note that portions of the activity may be cut out if your group arrives late. Also, if your group is over 36 students, half of the group may do the classroom first.

Pre-Visit Resources

Explore the St. Louis American newspaper digitization project, an educator resource to aid in the teaching of the Civil Rights movement.

Want to better prepare your students for their visit to #1 in Civil Rights: The African American Freedom Struggle in St. Louis? Pair your Museum field trip with a FREE ACTivist In-School Visit.

You can also visit the exhibition webpage to access a video interview with the curator regarding how the exhibition came about.

 Please read our K-12 Policies before booking this program.

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Critical Thinking
Regardless of which field-trip experience you choose, all of our K–12 programs are designed to emphasize the critical thinking skills students use at museums, in the classroom, and as lifelong learners. Each one facilitates experiences in which learners can individually and collaboratively use Museum spaces, objects, and content to:

  • compare and contrast the past and the present
  • make connections between the people, places, and stories of history and their own experiences
  • comprehend and evaluate multiple perspectives and past choices
  • express and support their personal views on history

Here are some Pre-Visit Activities and other resources.

Program Modifications
We understand that many factors may cause your bus to be late. However, due to other group reservations and the schedules of our museum educators, we can't extend the length of your visit past your reservation time.

If you arrive late, we'll still do our best to deliver the program you reserved. However, modifications may be necessary depending on your arrival time. (NOTE: Excessively late groups can expect significant program changes.)

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