Students “become” a famous civil rights hero in this research and role playing activity. Although Martin Luther King, Jr. is America’s most well known civil rights hero, by the time students are in high school, they need to understand that there were many different perspectives regarding how best to achieve equality and civil rights for African Americans. Students pick their “new” name out of a hat, complete a brief research paper, and then attend the forum for a round-table discussion playing the role of the leader they researched. This activity includes a list of 30 famous Civil Rights heroes, the research questions, a research paper assessment sheet, and an oral presentation assessment sheet.
I usually assign the research a couple of weeks prior to the forum. Students can do the research for homework or in class. The forum itself can be completed in one 85 minute class period with some debriefing the next day. Kids love this activity and they never forget it!