An Education for Our Children: Civil Rights in Education

Grade Level: 5th
Overview: Using class discussion and a power point presentation, students will consider how communities and local leaders worked for equality in the years leading up to Martin Luther King’s historic / Have a Dream speech, using the history of education in Harrods Creek, a small, rural community north of Louisville, as an example. They will use analytical skills in analyzing primary resources (a historic document, an oral history clip, and a photograph).

Optional follow-up activities allow students to apply the essential questions to their own community and include the opportunity to conduct short research projects, write informational pieces, and/or report on a topic. An additional follow up presentation introduces careers in Transportation Planning (Practical Living/Career Awareness).

This lesson plan can be used alone or as part of a unit including For the Common Good. As a unit, the lessons provide a case study of a rural, African American community in Kentucky and provide a springboard for exploring your local community through the lens of the Big Ideas in Social Studies. As an individual lesson, this can be used to consider the role of education in society and the impact of segregation. It is particularly timely during Black History Month.

Standards Addressed (detailed bullets in lesson plan):

  • Kentucky Core Academic Standards – Big Ideas in Cultures and Societies
  • Common Core in English Language Arts
  • C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards, National Council for the Social Studies

Essential Questions:

  • What impact did segregation have on the education of African American children?
  • What role did Rosenwald schools play in rural African American communities?
  • How did national leaders like Julius Rosenwald and local leaders like James and Etta Taylor work toward the dream that Martin Luther King, Jr. expressed in his famous speech?


NOTE: Several clips from oral history interviews are included. While you can play these clips separately, they are linked to the power point. When you see the audio symbol in the power point, click on it and the interview clip will play.

Handouts for Optional Activity 1:

Handouts for Optional Activity 2:

For a comprehensive analysis of the Harrods Creek community, see the African American Heritage Interpretive Plan for Jefferson Jacob School, Jacob School Road, James Taylor Subdivision & Harrods Creek Village at

Helpful websites for Optional Activity 2 are:

Also check with your local historical society and local tourism offices for materials.

Kentucky Highway Districts
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet divides the state into 12 highway districts to optimize building, accountability, & maintenance of the transportation systems within.

District 1
Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Crittenden, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Livingston, Lyon, McCracken, Marshall, and Trigg Email District 1
Phone: (270) 898-2431

District 2
Caldwell, Christian, Daviess, Hancock, Henderson, Hopkins, McLean, Muhlenberg, Ohio, Union and Webster Email District 2
Phone: (270) 824-7080

District 3
Allen, Barren, Butler, Edmonson, Logan, Metcalfe, Monroe, Simpson, Todd, and Warren Email District 3
Phone: (270) 746-7898

District 4
Breckinridge, Grayson, Green, Hardin, Hart, Larue, Marion, Meade, Nelson, Taylor, and Washington Email District 4
Phone: (270) 766-5066

District 5
Bullitt, Franklin, Henry, Jefferson, Oldham, Shelby, Spencer, and Trimble Email District 5
Phone: (270) 766-5066

District 6
Boone, Kenton, Campbell, Bracken, Pendleton, Grant, Owen, Gallatin, Carroll, Harrison and Robertson Email District 6
Phone: (859) 341-2700

District 7
Anderson, Bourbon, Boyle, Clark, Fayette, Garrard, Jessamine, Madison, Montgomery, Mercer, Scott, and Woodford Email District 7
Phone: (859) 246-2355

District 8
Adair, Casey, Clinton, Cumberland, Lincoln, McCreary, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Russell, and Wayne Email District 8
Phone: (606) 677-4017

District 9
Bath, Boyd, Carter, Elliott, Fleming, Greenup, Lewis, Mason, Nicholas, and Rowan Email District 9
Phone: (606) 677-4017

District 10
Breathitt, Estill, Lee, Magoffin, Menifee, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Powell, and Wolfe Email District 10
Phone: (606) 677-4017

District 11
Bell, Clay, Harlan, Jackson, Knox, Laurel, Leslie, and Whitley
Email District 11
Phone: (606) 598-2145

District 12
Floyd, Johnson, Knott, Lawrence, Letcher, Martin, and Pike
Email District 12
Phone: (606) 433-7791

This lesson plan was developed as part of the African American Heritage Interpretive Plan for Jefferson Jacob School, Jacob School Road, James Taylor Subdivision & Harrods Creek Village Jefferson County, Kentucky