Randall Library, Area Educators Partner to Create Civil Rights Lesson Plans

Friday, March 01, 2019

Over the next few months, 20 public school teachers will dive into digitized documents from Randall Library’s Special Collection that will provide insight into race relations, politics and education during the Civil Rights era. Their goal is to craft lesson plans related to the struggle for civil rights in southeastern North Carolina.

UNCW’s Randall Library received a $25,065 grant in 2018 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for “Civil Rights in Southeast North Carolina: The School, the Market, and the Ballot Box” to fund both the digitization of primary source materials and the creation of the lesson plans.

“We did not just want to digitize some of our great collections, we also wanted to make sure that teachers knew these resources would be available for use in instruction,” said Nathan Saunders, associate director for library specialized collections. “Any time we can help students better understand their neighborhoods and towns, we help them become more thoughtful about current events, and ultimately, themselves. Studying local history through primary sources is one of the best ways to help them grow in the knowledge of their world and their places in that world.”

The documents come from the collections of former New Hanover County Schools Superintendent Heyward Bellamy, including legal papers related to the desegregation fight; letters and documents related to Voting Rights and Civil Rights legislation from former United States Congressman Alton Lennon; and papers from lawyer and integration advocate Wallace C. Murchison.

In late February, Special Collections staff met with teachers from Brunswick, Columbus, Duplin, New Hanover and Pender counties to review resources and the timeline for the project. The lesson plans will be available through Randall Library’s website by the end of May, said Saunders, and noted that the general public will be able to access them, as well.

Information and insight gleaned from the plans will help teachers meet specific standards from both the eighth-grade North Carolina history curriculum and the curriculum for American History II, said Saunders.

T.J. Moraco, who teaches eighth grade American History II at the International School at Gregory in Wilmington, felt the project was a wonderful opportunity to incorporate local sources into the curriculum.

“Most of the sources we have looked at have been national- or state-level,” said Moraco. “The students will be able to relate to local resources more and be more engaged. Even though the documents are from quite a long time ago, there is still a connection today.”

Students in a social studies methods class at Watson College of Education will review the draft lesson plans and provide feedback, said Saunders. “Randall Library, the Watson College of Education and area schools are a natural partnership. Randall Library has so many resources that can help local teachers and teachers-in-training plan meaningful instruction.”

Randall Library was one of 48 recipients of the competitive grants, which aim to advance excellence and promote equity while expanding access and community engagement across the state’s libraries. Community engagement and regional impact are also key components of UNCW’s Strategic Plan.

This project was supported by grant funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the federal Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (IMLS grant number LS-00-18-0034-18).

-- Venita Jenkins