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The African American Civil Rights Movement in Oklahoma


Water Fountain Activity

This activity should be done over a day and up to a week. Put up a sign that reads "No Blue Eyes" on all but a few water fountains in the school that are in an inconvenient location. Announce to the class that there is a new school rule: people with blue or green eyes are not allowed to use the water fountains marked with a sign "No Blue Eyes." Decide on a punishment if they are caught breaking the rule. People with brown eyes are allowed to use any water fountain they like. Students may find ways to protest the new rule. If they do, help them find constructive ways to protest. For instance, they could write letters to the principal, write a petition and get people to sign it, make signs and hold a peaceful demonstration in front of the fountains, or even hold a "drink-in" where many of the students break the rule all at once. If students break the rules as a form of protest either individually or as a group, follow through with the punishment, but then reveal to the student the purpose of the activity so they do not feel they are actually in trouble.

After the exercise, talk to the students about segregation and the Civil Rights Movement. Reveal the purpose of the exercise and have students reflect on their experiences. Use the questions to help them make connections with the Civil Rights Movement. Have them address the following questions either in a class discussion, or individually in their writing journals:

  1. How did the people with blue eyes feel about not being allowed to drink out of many of the water fountains?
  2. How did the people with brown eyes feel about being able to drink out of any of the water fountains?
  3. Do you think it was fair? Why or why not?
  4. How do you think African Americans felt when they could only drink from certain water fountains, sit only in the back of buses, or could not eat at the restaurant?
  5. Do you think it was fair that African Americans were treated this way?
  6. Did you do anything to try to stop the water fountain rule? What are some other ways you could have protested the rule?
  7. In what ways did people protest segregation during the Civil Rights Movement?

Clara Luper Radio Show Activity

Use the link below to listen to clips from Clara Luper's radio show:

After listening to a few minutes of at least two of the radio shows, answer the following questions:

  1. What are the similarities of the radio shows you listened to?
  2. What are the differences of the radio shows you listened to?
  3. What is significant about Clara Luper?
  4. Why do you think her radio show was so important?
  5. Compare Clara Luper's radio shows with radio of today. What is the same? What is different?

Oklahoma Civil Rights Word Search

Download the word search (PDF)

Lunch or Playground Activity

Sometimes at lunch we sit with our same friends every day. On the playground or during free time, we play or hang out only with our friends. However, when we do not make an effort to be friends with other people, we lose the opportunity to learn about other people and make new friends. When we meet and talk with others, we learn to respect and appreciate other people, and maybe even make new friends! Visit the website link below to start this activity at your school:

From "Teaching Tolerance," Southern Poverty Law Center http://www.tolerance.org/mix-it-up/what-is-mix (accessed October 18, 2016).

Coloring Pages

Use the link below to download and print coloring pages of Oklahoma's own civil rights heroes!


Reading Primary Documents Activity

Primary sources are writings, recordings, or artifacts from a particular time period a historian is studying. These are first-hand interpretations of events that happened in that particular time period. For this activity, you will use two different newspapers as your primary documents, comparing and contrasting the two. The links to the articles are:

"$2,500,000 of Negro Property is Destroyed"

"75 Dead in Race War" (right column of paper)
http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov (search for the Chickasha Daily Express, June 1, 1921)

Before reading the articles, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Who wrote this article?
  2. What is the author's perspective?
  3. Why was it written?
  4. When was it written?
  5. Is it a reliable source? Why or why not?

Read the articles objectively, and answer the following questions in complete sentences.

  1. Who is the editor of the Black Dispatch?
  2. According to the Black Dispatch, what started the riot in Tulsa?
  3. According to the Tulsa World, what started the riot in Tulsa?
  4. What is different about the accounts in each paper?
  5. What are the similarities?
  6. Do you think these are reliable sources? Why or why not?

Create an Oklahoma Holiday

In 1981, Hannah Atkins helped Oklahoma make Martin Luther King Jr. Day a state-wide holiday in honor of his legacy in the Civil Rights Movement. Based on the biographies and stories you read on this website, choose an Oklahoma civil rights leader you believe deserves their own special day. Research the leader of your choice and create a poster that symbolizes their contribution to Oklahoma and why you think they should have their own holiday. Present your poster to your class or a partner. Be sure to view other students' posters and ask questions. At the end of class, have other students vote on who they think should have their own Oklahoma holiday and who had the most creative poster.

Struggle and Hope Watching and Writing Activity

Use this link to get to the short films:
Watch two to three short films on the towns of your choice, then answer the following questions in complete sentences.

  1. What do these towns have in common, besides that they were founded as All-Black towns?
  2. Why were these towns founded?
  3. How many people live in these towns now?
  4. Why do you think it is important to learn about these towns?