Unit 5: Equal Justice Under the Law: Social, Political, and Legal Equality

How have groups and individuals advocated for equal justice under law? How has the legal system been used to protect and expand civil rights?

The quest for civil rights in this country has taken place on many fronts—in courtrooms, in schools, in the streets, on television, and in living rooms. In this unit, students consider what equal justice means and explore how ordinary people took principled stands against injustice, often at the risk of their own lives or livelihood. Through exploration of the civil rights movement in the United States and how it relates to current movements, students investigate the wide variety of methods people have used to bring about social and political change, including lawsuits, civic action, political organizing, civil disobedience, and more subversive action. Individual stories of and by change-makers provide students with an understanding of the fluid legal landscape in which political and social justice is achieved, and help them identify their own role in transforming that landscape here and now.

Unit Project

Drawing on their understanding of storytelling as a means for promoting social change, students tell the story of one person directly impacted by a current struggle for equal justice. After choosing a current civil rights movement to investigate, students research the issue and choose one person whose life has been directly affected by the movement. Students write a proposal indicating why they chose this person and how they will tell his or her story, create a story in a medium of their choice, and post their story in a public venue to inform and educate the public.

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