Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum


President Harry Truman and Civil Rights In America
Author:
Linda Winer
Course:
Civics
Time Frame:
Three days
Subjects:
Civil Rights

Grade Levels:
6

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:
  • Cooperative learning. Analyze documents in a group.
  • What is President Truman’s attitude toward African-Americans?
  • What is the difference between what Truman said and what he did on the subject of race?

Rationale:

To understand the complexity of President Truman.In his personal letters he sometimes

appeared racist,yet issued executive orders that were pro Civil Rights.

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:


Standards of Learning Skills(SOL) in the state of Virginia

2:10 Students will explain the responsibilities of a good citizen.

2.11 Students will identify Americans whose contributions improved the lives

of others Americans.

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • “Freedom to Serve” –Special message to Congress on Civil Rights,February 2,1948
  • Pages 292-299 “Harry S. Truman. A Life.”
  • Letters from “Dear Harry, Love Bess.”

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

Letters from “Dear Harry,Love Bess.”
President Harry S. Truman’s “Diary,Letter of November 1st, 1949.”

Executive Order 9981 that desegregated the Armed Services.

Full description of activity or assignment.

“The Man who reached the presidency in 1945 was an unlikely supporter of Civil Rights.”

 

   I would like the students to understand that national figures are also complex human

beings. I would hope  they would understand that personally Truman made disparaging remarks about

African-Americans, but in his role as Commander-in-Chief he set aside his personal

feelings and approved Civil Rights Legislation because it was the Constitutional and

moral thing to do.

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:

Students will do independent research on the life of President Truman.
Among possible projects gleaned from “Activities for American History Classes” are”
Students will make a booklet with each page representing the events of Truman’s
Administration,
Students will make a booklet of slogans used for Truman’s campaign.
Students will make a biographical booklet.
Students will give an oral talk on Truman and the legislation promoting equal rights.