Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

The Presidential Desegregation Movement: The role of the President in relation to Desegregation
Joe Henke
Time Frame:
Two class periods
Civil Rights
Civil Rights

Grade Levels:
9, 10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:
  • The student will analyze the role of the President of the United States in the Civil Rights movement and desegregation.   
  • Each student or group will take a snapshot view of how three U.S. Presidents have influenced or directed major changes concerning the desegregation movement.   
  • The students will analyze three major documents/events:
      • President Hoover and the "DePriest Incident"
      • President Truman and the Address to Congress
      • President Kennedy and the Address on desegregation at the University of Alabama

  • The lesson will give the students an opportunity to view the role of the President in relation to the Civil Rights movement.  The lesson will bring to focus the difficulty in achieving “civil rights” for all Americans and the slow process of the Civil Rights Movement.  
  • The lesson will also require the students to read and analyze primary sources and to dig more deeply into the issue being studied.

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

Missouri Standards

2. Continuity and change in the history of Missouri, the United States and the world

6. Relationships of the individual and groups to institutions and cultural traditions

7. The use of tools of social science inquiry (such as surveys, statistics, maps, documents)


Common Core Standards:  


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.


Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
Full description of activity or assignment.
  • As part of an instructional unit on the Civil Rights Movement or the Role of the President, the students will have prior knowledge on the Constitutional powers of the President and/or Civil Rights Movement.  
  • To set the mood or atmosphere:   have students responds to the following journal/bell ringer question:  
      • Is it more important for the President/US Government to make sure that individuals have the liberty to do what they want or to make sure that society gives every individual equal opportunities?  


  • After the bell ringer activity:   the teacher will number off each student 1 to 4 (or lesson can be given to each student).  




  • Once the students assemble into the respective groups, the teacher will give

each group or student a folder that includes each of the three primary sources:  

      • Hoover-Depriest Incident
      • Truman Address
      • Kennedy Address
  • After the students have had an opportunity to read the three documents, each group should complete a S.O.A.P. graphic organizer on each document.  


  • Upon completion of the Graphic Organizers, each group should complete a 3-way Vinn Diagram comparing and contrasting the three documents/events.  


  • To finish the activity, students/groups will return to the bell ringer question  “Is it more important for the President/US Government to make sure that individuals have the liberty to do what they want or to make sure that society gives every individual equal opportunities?” and answer the question using direct references from the three documents that each group received.  

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:
  1. Part of my assessment will be an informal assessment of the students’ learning based upon our class discussion at the end of the period.
  2. I will also pick up the students’ S.O.A.P. graphic organizer packets, Vinn Diagrams, and the two journal/bell ringer entries and grade them on their completion of a form for each folder of document.