The Montgomery Bus Boycott was one of the first successful mass actions of the African-American Civil Rights Movement.  The boycott is often understood in overly-simplified terms -- the result of Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat. In this lesson, students build a more complex understanding of the causes and context of the boycott as they analyze four historical documents. 

Image: Photo of Black residents walking during the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. From


This is a great activity. Easily modified where I had groups of four, and they had to get their claim checked off with me at each round. This ensure formative assessing at each turn for maximum understanding of the documents. Students learned a lot and commented at how complicated it appears from the in class understanding, versus what they have learned in the past.
This lesson was an excellent introduction to the Civil Rights Movement unit for my tenth-grade US History students. Starting with an event with which they are almost all familiar made the deeper dive into historical thinking easier for most. The documents are accessible and varied and they prompt students to think beyond Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King.
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