The Civil Rights Movement: Cartoons as a Means of Protest

Lesson Plan

By Jennifer Richardson

Ohio Academic Content Standards:

Grade 10- History: The U.S. in the 20th Century- 14abc

Grade 10- People in Societies: Interaction- 3

Grade 10- Government: Rules and Laws- 1ab

Grade 10- Citizenship Rights/Responsibilities:Participation-2b

Duration of Lesson:

1 period (50 minutes)

*Extension Activity- 2 periods extra (100 minutes)

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will be able to analyze editorial cartoons and extract their meanings.
  • Students will be able to identify the correlation between actual events and the editorial cartoons they inspired.
  • Students will be able to evaluate the use of editorial cartoons as a means of protest during the Civil Rights era.


Students will be utilizing primary sources in the form of editorial cartoons and photographs from the Civil Rights Movement in order to understand the events of the time period.

They will also be asked to evaluate these editorial cartoons as a means of calling attention to these events.


Students will complete a KWL (attachment A) over the Civil Rights Movement and will participate in a classroom discussion about the movement and some of the events that occurred during this time period.

Instructional steps:

1. Students will be assigned groups of 2-4 (10 groups total).

2. Small student groups will then be given cartoon analysis worksheets (see attachment B) as well as one editorial cartoon from the time period being studied. (Editorial cartoon selections are listed below.)

3. Students will be asked to analyze their editorial cartoon by filling out the analysis worksheet and then will present their findings to the class.

4. Once each group has presented they will be given a stack of primary source photographs depicting different events that happened during the Civil Rights movement. (Primary source photographs are listed below). Student groups will be asked to match their editorial cartoon with the event they feel it portrays best and explain why they believe this to be true by completing the Photo Comparison worksheet (see attachment C)

5. If time, students can present their findings to the class once more.


Student completion of cartoon analysis worksheet and photograph comparison worksheet.

Materials for teachers:

Digital copy through which to display the cartoons to the class/Projector


Materials for students:

Writing utensil, worksheets, editorial cartoons and photographs

Extension Activities:

Students can, on their own, research the Civil Rights Movement and the events which occurred. They can then choose one event that we did not discuss in class and summarize it. After they complete the summary, they can then design their own political cartoon representing this event.