The Children's Crusade and the Role of Youth in the... Author(s): Erin Cook and Leanna Racine

The Children's Crusade and the Role of Youth in the African American Freedom Struggle
Author(s): Erin Cook and Leanna Racine
Source: OAH Magazine of History, Vol. 19, No. 1, Martin Luther King, Jr. (Jan., 2005), pp. 3136
Published by: Organization of American Historians
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25163740 .
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Lesson
Erin Cook and Leanna Racine|
Plan
The
Crusade
Children's
of
in
Youth
American
a
As
the
the
Role
African
Freedom
Struggle
I have sat through
and have acquired
firsthand
classes
many
experience
history
an ideal lesson
in a meaningful
is one that goes
For me,
students
way.
engage
plan
to develop
consciences
and to work
for social
their social
students
change.
inspiring
?Leanna
Racine
high school
of lessons
kinds
the
and
senior,
about
that
classroom,
the
beyond
Senior, Palo Alto (CA) High School
following lesson plan focuses on the role young people
played in the African American freedom struggle, specifically
the Children's Crusade in Birmingham, Alabama. In addition
The
to examining
we
that Crusade,
have
that highlight the critical contributions young people made to the civil
movement.
rights
Overview
Young people played an essential role in the African American
freedom
in many
participating
struggle,
ofthe
major
of Birmingham
were
who
campaigns
against the city's segregation policies,
people
As
will
were
students
find
great
made
critical
learn
that while
inspiration
will
in
their
efforts
to bring
in the movement,
they
a source
of
about
social
justice.
like Barbara Johns, Claudette Colvin, and Mary Louise Smith
most
likely be unfamiliar
in acts of resistance
participated
Luther
King,
Jr., gained
to your students.
These
and civil disobedience
national
prominence
for
young women
before Martin
his
role
in
Standards
struction"
one
take between
connections
American
and
class
four
periods.
between
freedom
struggle
role
in
youth
in current
of
the African
role
the
and
their
of
the African
for
struggles
justice and equality.
on the events
reflection
encourage
as
to our
freedom
struggle
they apply
source
evaluate
and interpret
primary
To
To
own
American
lives.
documents.
ofthe
"Second
4a: Demonstrate
understanding
its advancement
and analyze
of civil rights.
The Children's Crusade
Recon
told me
"My mother
twelve year-old
in
tion
When
Birmingham.
a
to serve my
said Anita Woods,
time,"
racial segrega
for demonstrating
against
to go home
if she wanted
asked
she
I had
arrested
girl
replied, "Yes! But I'd do it again. I'll keep on marching
freedom"
the campaign
1963
national
publicity
generated
response
larly violent
by
in the campaign.
children
On
till I get
(i).
In
and
Luther
Jr., was
King,
more
troops,"
T. Walker
Wyatt
from
released
jail only to find that the demonstrations
"We needed
support.
to desegregate
Alabama,
Birmingham,
action because
federal
ofthe
particu
to use
and
the decision
segregationists
Martin
20,
April
Birmingham's
were losing
later
recalled.
"We had scraped the bottom ofthe barrel of adults who would go [to
jail]." Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) staffmem
ber
This lesson plan will fulfill the following standard in the National
Standards for History Education:
Era 9: Postwar United States
Standard
To make
the
Montgomery bus boycott. Exploring their contributions to themove
ment not only clarifies King's place in history but also reminds young
people of their potential to effect change in the world.
National
should
of young
the contributions
of youth
role
lesson
they dissented
Martin
Luther
indeed
Jr., was
King,
was
movement
in
the
the
for many
people
struggle,
citizens
of ordinary
who
exhibited
extraordinary
up mostly
and strength
courage
Names
the
as
success.
to the movement's
about
en masse
arrested
this
Objectives
To help students see beyond the dynamic leaders ofthe movement
and focus instead on themany contributions made by people who
are not included in the history books.
ofthe
civil rights movement as well as initiating personal protests against
racial injustice. From Barbara Johns leading a strike of her fellow
students at Moton High School in Farmville, Virginia, in 1951 to
protest the inequities between black and white education, to the
children
Depending
include,
of events
stories
several
included
Time
on the number of additional activities teachers may
James
Bevel,
a
that while
argued
many
in the demonstrations
to
lose.
some
had
King
deliberation
conscience
ofthe
in
participant
initiated the idea of using
adults
the
may
Nashville
sit-in
movement,
in the demonstrations.
children
have
been
reluctant
Bevel
to participate
for fear of losing their jobs, children had less
reservations
the use
about
he
the action
agreed,
hoping
to the
nation
judgment
of
but
after
the
"subpoena
seat of morality."
Members
OAH Magazine of History
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All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
children,
would
January 2005
31
ofthe SCLC and the Alabama Christian Move
ment for Human Rights (ACMHR) immediately
local
canvassing
began
On May
2, hundreds
their
skipped
The
demonstrate.
one
first
six years
just
volunteers.
of students?many
and school
toothbrushes,
came
classes
and
blankets,
rying
for
schools
of young
group
from
emerged
old,
car
books?
to
ready
students,
Sixteenth
Street Baptist Church carrying signs and singing
freedom
Onlookers
songs.
as
cheered
the
chil
dren approached police lines. A bewildered po
liceman asked Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth how
more
many
least
child
a thousand,"
were
involved.
protesters
a
he
replied,
eliciting
Ah'mighty" from the policeman
when
ran out of
paddy
police
(2).
were
of students
numbers
Large
"At
"God
and
arrested,
school
wagons,
buses
were used to carry the children away. The laughing
and singing youngsters offered no resistance. While
some
ran when
participants
police
approached,
At the end
ofthe
day,
over
were
children
900
in May 1963
in Birmingham,
Crusade
Alabama,
900 students
taking part in the Children's
into a holding pen. (Image courtesy
in a makeshift
jailwhen the police turned a sports stadium
of Bob Adelman
and Magnum
Photos.)
Some
most ofthe marchers fell to their knees and prayed.
taken
were
ofthe
held
away to Birmingham jails.As the jails overflowed,
James Bevel and Andrew Young discouraged parents from posting bail.
The next evening King delivered a speech at the Sixteenth Street
in Birmingham,
Church
Baptist
ents ofthe
young
protesters:
encouragement
offering
"Don't worry
about your
to the par
children;
they
are going to be alright. Don't hold them back if they want to go to jail,
for they are not only doing a job for themselves, but for all of America
and for all of mankind" (3).
King was criticized for using children in the demonstrations. One
ofthe
most
vocal
came
criticisms
from
X who
Malcolm
"Real
stated,
men don't put their children on the firing line" (4). King responded by
allowed
that the demonstrations
saying
in freedom
of their own
stake
to develop
children
justice."
and expulsion
of suspension
returned
students
superintendent,
from
threats
Despite
the school
"a sense
and
on May
and
principals
3 to continue
the demonstration. Police barricaded the Sixteenth Street Baptist
Church, where the black students had assembled; when the students
tried to leave the church, theywere blasted with fire hoses and attacked
by police dogs. Two girls ran through the park in just their slips, their
outer clothing ripped off by the fire hoses. Several others had their
torn
shirts
The
off by
next
day
the water.
the
around
newspapers
country
carried
shocking
images of the violence taking place in Birmingham. Pictures of
children being attacked by dogs, of fire hoses knocking bodies into the
street and up against buildings, and of women being beaten by
awaken
helped
policemen
was
10, an agreement
May
of many of Birmingham's
The
Birmingham
movements
Jobs
and
the
announced
campaign
The
resulting
ofthe
nation."
was
success
the
largest
mass
according
activity
statement
protest
for
to King,
for
the students
the
lesson,
"anticipatory set" activity, called "Dividing
invites
the
an
to form
students
a brief
to prepare
and
defense
a
about
opinion
of it. Tell
students
that they are going to be learning about the role young people played
in the African American freedom struggle, specifically in the Birming
on the board Malcolm
X's statement,
"Real
and write
campaign,
on the
write
line." Have
students
don't put their children
firing
to the provocative
statement
sentences
in response
followed
several
by
or
one and ten
a number
of
their
level
between
agreement
reflecting
ham
men
with
disagreement
statement.
the
Have
the
students
a
form
line
across the room in numerical order and then split the line in half so
are
students
facing
one
another.
The
to have
is
here
object
the
extremes ofthe line (ones and tens, twos and nines) pair off with one
another for a brief exchange of their views. In addition to requiring
to take
students
a stand,
"Dividing
Line"
to back
them
encourages
up
their opinions with reasons and to defend them in a brief exchange
with someone who likely holds very different views. After students
have
had
ones,
several
twos,
the
2.Why
3.What
tions
tens
share
their
their
Have
Crusade.
Children's
in small
positions,
discussions
groups
or
students
in their
have
some
with
the
ofthe
class.
(1989) on Birmingham
address
the
following
journals:
did the SCLC and ACMHR make the decision to use
in the campaign?
were
from posting bail for their children?
parents discouraged
do you think King meant when he stated that the demonstra
to develop
stake in
children
"a sense of their own
allowed
freedom
and
4. How
might
demonstrations?
5. What
about?
and
"Eyes on the Prize: No EasyWalk"
II.Watch
and
to discuss
minutes
nines,
1. Why
could largely be attributed to the thousands of young people who
participated and affirmed a personal commitment to justice. The
Birmingham campaign helped pave the way for the passage of the
most significant civil rights legislation ofthe 1960s: the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
32 OAH Magazine of History
This
children
in the March onWashington
in Birmingham,
Line."
provocative
to prime
and
knowledge
begin with the following
questions
in the desegregation
of several
call on prior
I. To
On
public facilities.
in 1963 that culminated
Freedom.
conscience
"moral
Procedures
A. Main Activities
justice"?
you have
sacrifices
Be
would
responded
to the call
you be willing
specific.
January 2005
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All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
to make
to participate
for a cause
in the
you
care
In a class
III.
reactions
share
discussion,
and
about
thoughts
Links
the role
youth played in the Birmingham movement. Were students familiar
with the Children's Crusade, or had they only learned a King-centered
version of Birmingham? How does this change their perception of
the movement,
King,
and
of youth?
the role
Ask
students
where
Separate
Views
a response
write
the
of
in their
in
Strife
Birmingham:"
cartoons
ofthe
to one
journals
Have
students
included
at the
1.What
2.What
who
person
3. What
it tell us about
itwas
4. Briefly explain
the issues
current
social
Below
is a brief
social
and
in this
Is it effective?
be
document
How
B. Additional Activities
overview
of several
ofthe
use
Teachers
may
or
they may wish
to
these
to develop
on
expand
one of them
We have provided a list of suggested
to help
activities
get
events
youth-centered
that helped shape the modern African American
Crusade
as a separate
further
readings,
unit,
at Moton High
school
and
sixteen
23,1951,
April
year
old
School in Virginia,
her
encouraged
fellow
Barbara
lesson.
were
organized
Johns,
that
at:
Koerner
not
used
as
socioeconomic
there
were
arrests
previous
for
same
the
to learn
to
give
that Rosa
up her
Parks
seat?
<http://www.kingdomnewsmagazine.com/
After
students
read
the
article,
test
cases.
How
have
Encyclopedia at: <http://vvww.stanfordedu/group/King/aboutJdng/>.
Also see Ellen Levine's Freedom'sChildren: Young Civil RightsActivists
Tell Their Own Stories (NewYork: Putnam, 1993).
a student
an assembly
at her
in an atten
to participate
students
in Montgomery,
Council
age, gender,
and/or
might
a role?
played
background
on the
Additional
information
bus boycott, Rosa Parks, and
Montgomery
can be found
the Montgomery
in the King
Association,
Improvement
links, and possible
Rose
Political
discuss why itwas that Claudette Colvin and Mary Louise Smith
I. Barbara Johns and Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
On
the Women's
articles/feb2003/history.pdf>.
started.
you
mentions
Brendan
freedom struggle.
the Children's
of
Ask students to find information on Claudette Colvin and Mary
Louise Smith in their textbooks. Why aren't they included in the
history ofthe Montgomery bus boycott? How does this change
the way they think about the teaching of history?
Have students read "WhoWas on the Bus? The Untold Versions" by
situation?
political
the Nation
.html>.
ohns
are
bus boycott,
Montgomery
they surprised
was not the first person
arrested
for refusing
to our
relevant
Change
action. Have students read the handbill and then ask if anything stands
out about it.Given the history thatmost students have learned about the
of the
climate
political
to the cartoon.
response
addressed
and
the
produced?
your
might
document
of the
it?
created
does
in which
period
in creating
this cartoon?
tell us about the values
and beliefs
the cartoon
does
Helped
Alabama, wrote a handbill calling for a boycott of the buses. The
s intent
is the author
leader
Robinson,
end of this lesson plan, addressing the following questions:
Protest
II. The Montgomery
Bus Boycott: Claudette Colvin and Mary
Louise Smith
Following the arrest of Rosa Parks, attorney Fred Gray and JoAnn
Crusade.
"Domestic
IV.
a Student-Led
How
stories_people_j
they
would place themselves on the "Dividing Line" after learning about
the Children's
but Unequal:
<http://www.npr.org/features/feature.php?wfld=i8947i3>.
PBS: The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow
<http://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/
dance strike to protest the inequities between their school and the
local white school. She told them that if they acted in solidarity the
town jail could not hold them all. Johns stated,
"We knew we had to do it ourselves and that if
we had asked for adult help before taking the
step, we would
first
have
been
turned
down."
Johns wrote a letter to the NAACP asking
for the organization's help. The NAACP law
yers, who had planned to tell the children to go
back to school, recalled, "These kids turned
out to be so well organized and their morale
was so high. We just didn't have the heart to
'em
tell
of
to break
the five
Brown
Have
it up."
The
case
school
desegregation
v. Board
of Education.
a response
write
students
became
cases
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^ BH^^^HiB^h 4.
BP
one
under
in
^^^^
^^H:'':'
their
'
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journals to Barbara Johns quote, "It [suing for
the end of segregation] seemed like reaching
for
the moon."
Suggested
Reading
Presents Civics for
Ralph Nader
A Journey for Teachers
and Stu
Democracy:
dents. Washington,
DC: Essential Books, 1992.
Kluger, Richard. Simple Justice: The History of Brown
v. Board
1975.
of Education. New York: Knopf,
Irons, Peter. Jim Crow's Children: The Broken Prom
Isaac,
Katherine.
ise ofthe
2002.
Brown
Decision.
New
York: Viking,
A group of African American
Alabama.
May 1963. (Image
in the Children's
high school students
participating
of Bob Adelman
and Magnum
Photos.)
Crusade
in Birmingham,
courtesy
OAH Magazine of History
This content downloaded from 198.91.32.137 on Wed, 8 May 2013 20:33:29 PM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
January 2005
33
III. Little Rock Nine
Following the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling that the
doctrine of "separate but equal" had no place in the field of public
education, the Little Rock School Board developed a plan for the
gradual desegregation at Central High School. However, on Septem
ber 2,1957, the night before school was to begin, Arkansas Governor
Orval
Faubus
on
called
state's
the
National
to surround
Guard
4. Could
see
you
yourself
5. In what
were
ways
4,
September
the nine
of
eight
students
Elizabeth
student,
ofthe
was
Eckford?who
to school
and went
meeting
un
old?was
15 years
only
was
alone.
Eckford
greeted
by an angry mob of people; some yelled "Lynch her! Lynch her!" One
woman
on her.
spat
to get
from
away
Finally,
crowd.
the
specific
the conflict
and
state
and
federal
woman
her
helped
a bus
board
6. Consider
various
the
tactics
made
news.
international
forced
power
to ensure
Rock
President
The
battle
students
the
students'
safety.
The
newspaper,
a letter
wrote
Tiger,
to her
fellow
students entitled "CanWe Meet the Challenge?" (included in the
documents following this lesson plan.) Bring a letter from the editor
an
or
a current
from
editorial
to
newspaper
and
class
introduce
students to the basics of writing an editorial. (You can find plenty of
an editorial"
to write
"How
in the place
themselves
on
sites
Internet.)
of The Tiger
editor
the
of
Have
the
a familiarity
Suggested
with
and write
put
a letter
the
Rock
events
or both,
Nine,"
Little
surrounding
and
Rock's
Don't
Warriors
Beals,
Cry:
Searing
Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High
Books,
involve
youth
examples
motivations
and tactics used
Louise
and Mary
Colvin
Claudette
fellow
students.
Have
students
and
campaigns
i. What
similarities
2. What
3.Which
differences
itwas
In contrast,
Crusade,
'Freedom' From Cell in Birmingham
"Negro Girls Define
Benjamin,
Jail," New York Times, May 9, 1963, 17.
2. Diane McWhorter,
The Climactic
Alabama,
Carry Me Home: Birmingham,
Battle ofthe Civil Rights Revolution
and Schuster,
(New York: Simon
2001),
367.
Luther King,
3. Martin
Jr., "Address
Church," May 3, 1963.
"Malcolm X Terms
4. M. S. Handler,
Delivered
at Sixteenth
Dr. King's
Tactics
Street
Futile,"
Baptist
New
York
11, 1963, 9.
Memoir
and
compare
events,
the
and
do you
do you
'Freedom' From Cell in Birmingham
"Negro Girls Define
Phillip.
Jail." New York Times, May 9, 1963, 17.
Luther King, Jr. New York:
Carson, Clayborne,
ed., The Autobiography
ofMartin
Warner
Books,
1998.
in Negro Protest at Birmingham."
New York
"500 are arrested
Times, May 3, 1963, 1.
A Journey for
Isaac, Katherine.
Ralph Nader Presents Civics for Democracy:
Teachers and Students. Washington,
DC: Essential
Books,
1992.
Foster.
Hailey,
King, Martin
Luther
Jr., Why We
Can't Wait.
New
York: The
New
American
Library, 1964.
Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and
Kluger, Richard.
Black America's
edition. New
Struggle for Equality. Revised and expanded
York: Knopf,
2004.
on the Bus? The Untold Versions."
Brendan.
"Who Was
Koerner,
Kingdom
News
9-10.
(February 1003):
Diane. Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle
McWhorter,
2001.
ofthe Civil Rights Revolution. New York: Simon & Schuster,
Morris,
Black Communities
ofthe Civil Rights Movement:
1984.
for Change. New York: The Free Press,
My Soul is Rested: Movement
Days in the Deep South Remem
bered. New York: Putnam,
1977.
The Origins
Aldon.
ofthe
Los Angeles
in Alabama:
Children March Off to Jail in Racial Protest."
Times. May 7, 1963, 1.
New York:
Sanford. An Eyewitness History: The Civil Rights Movement.
Wexler,
Checkmark
Books,
1993.
An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movement
and the Transfor
Young, Andrew.
mation
1996.
of America. New York: Harper Collins,
"Strife
(New York: Pocket
action,
a
there were
by participants.
Smith
acted alone,
For
with
out any organizational support; Barbara Johns enlisted the help of her
Children's
above.
Erin Cook isAssociate Director ofthe Liberation Curriculum at theMartin
Luther King, Jr. Papers Project and a Teaching Assistant for Professor
above
of different
example,
integration.
and Contrast
all ofthe
number
reflect
1994).
IV. Compare
While
should
Reading
Petilla
Melba
"Little
the
students,
listed
campaigns
effective? Why?
Organizing
Raines, Howell.
students
addressed to their fellow students. The lettermay be addressed to just
the white
they
Bibliography / Suggested Readings
Show the first film in the Eyes on the Prize series, "Fighting
Back" (1992).
Activity: Letter from the Editor
On September 19 Jane Emery, co-editor of the Central High
School's
did
Benjamin,
action.
continued.
students
Where
i. Philip
between
to take
Eisenhower
On September 25, 1957, the "Little Rock Nine" entered Central
High under the protection of federal troops. While the battle had
ended in the eyes ofthe media and the nation, the daily battles for the
nine
in the
used
do you consider to be the most
Which
Times, May
He federalized the entire Arkansas National Guard and sent soldiers
to Little
a success?
campaigns
fall short?
to attack any black person who approached the
Mobs continued
school,
a white
or
campaigns
Endnotes
to
about
enroll met Daisy Bates, president ofthe Arkansas NAACP, to face
the violent mob they knew would be waiting for them. The ninth
aware
the
Little
were
who
of
ones? Why?
Rock Central High School and prevent black students from entering.
On
in any
participating
events above? Which
adults
who
were
efforts
contrast
see between
the
primarily
part of a
differences
the various
organized
the
long campaign.
the
between
campaigns?
see?
example did you find most
34 OAH Magazine of History
interesting, or inspiring? Why?
Carson's
Clayborne
She works
struggle.
ment,
using
history
with
the materials
interns
undergraduate
on
course
local high
of
school
the King
teachers
Papers
in teaching.
interested
American
the African
on curriculum
and
Project,
Leanna
Racine
freedom
develop
supervises
is a high
school senior at Palo Alto High School in Palo Alto, California. Leanna
began volunteeringfor The Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project because
of herpassion forsocial justice and political activism. She hopes to continue
working with the Project with ambitions to make a difference in her
community
Jr.,
and
and
encourage
the African
American
others
to learn about
struggle.
January 2005
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Dr. Martin
Luther
King,
Document
i
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OAH Magazine of History
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All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
January 2005
35
Document
2
Can You Meet the Challenge?
By Jane Emery
are
You
being watched!
to know what
They want
now
us. After
before
your reactions,
all, as we
is watching
the world
Today
and impulses
behavior,
see it, it settles
the students
you,
now
of Central
amatter
will be concerning
to amatter
of interpretation
High.
of law and
order.
you be stubborn,
Will
your
of
knowledge
is the chance
This
mind,
youth
science
or tradition
superstition,
broad
outlook,
has not
"gone
not being
the decision
that the youth
of America
wise
High
to show
facilities.
love and cherish
That
Will
question?
let customs,
you
choice
growing
friendly,
can prove
you
spiritual,
for. Through
an open
that America's
and educational
standards
of Arkansas
and students
are
is a progressive
thriving
and improving
its social, health,
and conscientious
happy,
of
state of
citizens
their freedom.
up your own mind
in making
been waiting
that Arkansas
it is a state with
ofthe
or will
action
for you as citizens
said that life is just a chain
It has been
has
a careful
the world
sides
for you?
It is a state that is rapidly
alert people.
to both
your
that their moral,
is the opportunity
Little Rock Central
who
and
thinking,
to the dogs"
This
and educational
determine
you
help
to listen
determine
lowered.
wide-awake
or refuse
obstinate,
of problems.
and determining
If this is true, then
right from wrong
will
this experience
be of great value
to
in life.
you
The
and
challenge
ability
controversial
36 OAH Magazine of History
is yours,
to make
question.
as future
decisions
What
adults
by how
is your
of America,
your
answer
react,
to prove
behave,
your maturity,
and
conduct
intelligence,
yourself
to this challenge?
January 2005
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All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
in this