Back in the summer of 2020, I set out to design a course that presents the Black Experience in America in a different light than usual. Instead of focusing mainly on slavery and civil rights, I wanted to focus on cultural identity, American ideals, and recurring themes and challenges that still resonate today.
But I also had to cover the Civil Rights Movement, of course. So I made the decision to do that in one lesson.
Ambitious, sure. I did it for two reasons: context and clarity. For context, I wanted to honor my original intent to show a breadth and depth of the Black experience beyond the well-trodden ideas. For clarity, I wanted to honor the approach where sometimes less is more.
If I had to present only 90 minutes worth of material on the Civil Rights Movement that would intrigue the audience and challenge them to explore the ideas more deeply, what would I offer?
Here it is. Lesson 15 has four parts, starting with part of the first episode of Eyes on the Prize (an additional $2.99 at Amazon Prime). It covers catalysts for the movement, including the murder of Emmett Till. The sections on Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X use their actual speeches. Their contrasting approaches illuminate nuances of the struggle and prompt us to reconsider what elements of their messages remain relevant today.
As we celebrate King’s life and legacy this year, I invite you to embrace the complexity of the leader and the movement. Share the lesson with your family and/or community and discuss it together. And if you want more, you can continue your exploration during Black History Month and purchase a discounted ($16) bundle of four lessons: