In this first unit, students begin reading the central text A Mighty Long Way, by Carlotta Walls Lanier. This text builds background knowledge of the Little Rock Nine and provides insights into the personal journey of one of the Nine. Students will trace Carlotta's journey for justice, as well as her emotional journey to come to terms with her experiences. Each of the three stages of her journey is identified by the title and lyrics of a song from the civil rights era. Students will also begin to build background knowledge of segregation and Jim Crow laws in the United States. The primary and secondary sources students will read include both the court decision and the dissenting opinion in the Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson.
Students will engage in close reading of each text to build their understanding of the case, and will write an on-demand response explaining how the court decision and the dissenting opinion differ in their interpretation of the 13th and 14th amendments to assess RI.8.9. At the end of the unit, students will make connections between all of the texts they have read and lyrics from songs, in Socratic Seminar discussions to assess SL.8.1.