Lesson Plans: Grades 6-8

Revolution '67, Lesson 1: Protest: Why and How

Created November 28, 2011


The Lesson


Revolution '67 image

The Newark Community Union Project (NCUP) Police Brutality March across Broad and Market Street in Newark, NJ, 1965.

Credit: Doug Eldridge Collection

Newark, New Jersey, is one of thousands of American cities to experience civil unrest during the 1960s. Often forgotten by textbooks and in American memory generally, the “riots” of the 1960s provide teachers with an excellent opportunity to highlight a wide variety of important themes in U.S. history such as conflict and protest as well as the transition from the civil rights era to Black Protest movement.

Guiding Questions

  • How is conflict expressed in politics and social settings, like schools, neighborhoods, and playgrounds?

Learning Objectives

  • Describe some of the reasons why people protest against government policies or laws.
  • Identify a variety of methods for protest.
  • Begin to analyze the conditions under which people choose to protest.


The intent of this lesson and its partner is to help students comprehend and explain the changes in Newark citizens’ views and attitudes towards government and how those attitudes affected political change in the 1960s and 1970s. The City of Newark, New Jersey, is used to demonstrate trends and changes that surfaced throughout the United States regarding community and political action.

These lessons will highlight the shifting emphases and tactics of a diverse range of civic and political activists, including the civil rights movement, the Black Power movement, and the Student movement. Prior to implementing these lessons, students should have studied post-war America and the civil rights movement for the foundational historical knowledge that will allow them to compare the more "traditional" narrative of civil rights with the later emergence of a more urban-centered Black Power movement.

In these lessons, students first explore the reasons why people might disagree with laws or policies and the actions they would take to effect change. Next, they investigate the ways in which citizens respond to government (in)action and social conditions by analyzing a government report to understand the causes of the Newark riots of 1967 and the community and government responses to those events.

Teachers may wish to refer to some additional resources to augment their understanding of the causes and effects of the riots and civil disturbances of the 1960s. For more information on how Newark politics and policies of the 1940s and 1950s contributed to the events that occurred in the summer of 1967, see David Levitus’s Planning, Slum Clearance and the Road to Crisis in Newark available at Rutgers Newark Online: The Newark Metro.

Preparation Instructions

Materials Needed:

  1. Worksheet 1 or Launchpad
  2. Revolution ’67, online cideo clip 1: “July 12, 1967: The Spark”
  3. The Newark section of the Kerner Commission Report (PDF)

Lesson Activities

Activity 1. Protest: Why and How
  1. Direct students to Launchpad Part A or distribute Worksheet 1 to students and ask them to complete Part A. Students can work individually or in small groups.
  2. When students have completed the worksheet, elicit student responses for each of the laws. Record responses on the board so that students may see patterns arise from the responses.

Suggested Responses:

Students may find some laws more or less repugnant than others. Those that are most directly relevant will usually elicit the most passionate reactions. In general, the worse students think a law will be for them (e.g. a military draft), the more willing they will be to take more aggressive measures to stop it from being implemented. Many will begin with a letter, maybe a petition, or a request to meet with a government official. Others will simply disobey, some will be apathetic, some will even go so far as to organize a protest, while a handful may even advocate more aggressive action.

  1. Explain to students that they have uncovered the reasons why people protest. These examples are similar to what people did in the past. Through an analysis of protest during the 1960s and 1970s in cities like Newark, New Jersey, we will examine why and how people have protested in the past
  2. Have students read the instructions for Launchpad Section B or Worksheet 1 Part B
  3. Have student watch Revolution ’67, online video clip 1: “July 12, 1967: The Spark,” and provide students with a few minutes to reflect on the questions. Discuss the questions briefly, as a way to introduce the Newark riots. 
  4. Provide students with a copy of the Newark section from the Kerner Commission Report and have them complete questions for Launchpad Section C or Worksheet 1 Part C. This can be done for homework or in class the following day.

You may also want to provide students with a Written Document Analysis Worksheet, such as the one prepared by the National Archives.

The Basics

Subject Areas
  • History and Social Studies > People > African American
  • History and Social Studies
  • History and Social Studies > Themes > Civil Rights
  • History and Social Studies > U.S. History
  • History and Social Studies > U.S. > Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)
  • History and Social Studies > Themes > Politics and Citizenship
  • History and Social Studies > Themes > Reform


Activity Worksheets
Student Resources

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