#sol15: March 8, 2015 – Living history – Commemorating the March on Selma


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“What they did here will reverberate through the ages.  Not because the change they won was preordained, not because their victory was complete, but because they proved that nonviolent change is possible; that love and hope can conquer hate.”  President Obama

 john lewis

Saturday marked the 50th.anniversary of the Selma March. President Obama and John Lewis gathered with many others to commemorate this occasion.  And, on Monday, we will visit the events in Selma in our Social Studies classroom to experience living history, and how the past connects to the present.

Too, often, I think, we study and teach history as dry events from long ago as written about in lifeless textbooks or taught through boring PowerPoints.  We ask our kids to memorize facts and dates, and bore them to tears with dull recitations of events.  I think our kids can love the study of history if they can see the connection of past events with the struggles and successes of today, if they can learn about Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through an examination of their complex and brilliant lives not just through close readings of their “famous speeches”.

I’ve seen so many wonderful resources shared on Twitter and Facebook about teaching Selma, and why it’s important to do so.  Here are a few:

Footage from the PBS series “Eyes on the Prize”:

The events of March 7, 1965 through the eyes of Congressman John Lewis in this clip from Finding Your Roots:


Part one of Chuck Todd’s interview with Rep. John Lewis (D-GA): The civil rights leader reflects on the march from Selma to Montgomery 50 years later:


President Obama’s speech at Selma:

Rare photographs of the Selma March from the Smithsonian’s collections:



Harvard President Drew Faust‘s  Morning Prayers on Friday, “offering the intimate crowd in Appleton Chapel some deeply personal and pointed reflections on her experience with the Civil Rights Movement 50 years ago.:


Interactive lessons about Selma and the Civil Rights Movement:


Teaching the events of Selma empowers our students with what the President called, “the imperative of citizenship”, which brave people like John Lewis have been willing to die for ever since we first became our nation.

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24 thoughts on “#sol15: March 8, 2015 – Living history – Commemorating the March on Selma

  1. Thank you for all these links. It is not just our students but we adults who need to be reminded and prodded to continue to pursue peace and justice and equality.

  2. “I think our kids can love the study of history if they can see the connection of past events with the struggles and successes of today…” This is so important, Tara. One of my favorite teachers taught history in high school. I hated history classes for the reasons you mentioned- memorization of meaningless facts, dates, and places. Mr. Hornbeck brought history to life for us and helped his students see that connection between past and present. Thanks for sharing these resources and for bringing back my memory of a great teacher!

  3. What a library of resources you have gathered! Technology allows us to do more than just read about events. Students will gain so much from seeing and hearing rather than just reading.

  4. Tara, I am working with MS/HS teachers on Friday. They are content specialists who are looking at ways to incorporate writing. Can I use your post as a resource? Very rich!

  5. Thank you for these resources. I will commit to fitting in at least a conversation about this in my classroom that is scheduled to the minute for test prep. This is the stuff of learning.

  6. Tara, I am fascinated by this part of history in your country. I love reading about it and learning it. We have a much younger country however, we do have some similarities with racial prejudice in our history too. Thank you for all of the links, I am looking forward to checking them all out. 🙂

  7. I think often about the ways we reduce history to a list of facts and make it so dry. I hear my students talk about this, too. I loved history; it was my favorite subject. I used to watch “You Are There,” which was an old show on CBS w/ Walter Cronkite. Yes, I’m old enough to have lived through the Civil Rights movement, and looking back I see snippets of it from my childhood. I love the way President Obama credits the Selma march w/ empowering his drive toward public service. I also love that there are more books telling the stories of our history in interesting ways. Have you read “Minds Made for Stories” by Tom Newkirk? It really opened my eyes to the problems w/ textbooks.

  8. Pingback: Found Poems and Book Talks | Reflections on the Teche

  9. Wonderful gathering of resources, Tara. We will discuss this important day on Monday, and I’ll pick of few pieces that you gave us to share. That PBS footage is powerful, isn’t it?

  10. These are wonderful! So many times I hear that Social Studies is my students’ least favorite subject. That’s so sad! It should be exciting and interesting. Your resources help history come alive!

  11. Very powerful discussion about a very powerful event. I feel like I don’t know enough about this time in history! What did I learn in Social Studies anyway? I’m going to have to reflect on that.

  12. A rich array of resources.You have delivered critical links to a most significant historical event. In this way Tara,you are contributing to keeping alive the important lessons of this historical milestone. More power to you,

  13. These are wonderful links. Have you read Turning 15 On the Road to Freedom? I just read it this afternoon. A memoir of Lynda Blackmon Lowery and her time spent protesting in Selma. So moving. I highly recommend it.

  14. What wonderful resources! It looks like you and I will be teaching the same thing tomorrow.
    Last year I met John Lewis in a chance encounter in DC. He was very friendly. It’s a moment I’ll always treasure.

  15. My mother was my US History teacher in high school, and she always told her classes, “History is everywhere”–I love how you are showing your students all of these interlocking connections between our past, present and future as a country.

  16. Thanks for all of these resources! One of the teachers at my school actually lived in Selma for a while. She and her husband and four children left on Wednesday afternoon and drove to Selma for the weekend. Can’t wait to talk to her on Tuesday to hear about her adventures!

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