JOHN LEWIS & JEWELL JONES
A Legacy of Leadership in Nonviolent Activism and Political Participation for Social Change
In 1961, Robert F. Kennedy discontinued his membership with the Metropolitan Club in New York City, citing that the Club’s adherence to racial segregation was not “logically tenable, humanly honest or diplomatically sound.” For him, “it [was] inconceivable…[that] in this day and age, that the privileges of the Club….would be denied to anyone merely because of his race.”
For RFK, civil rights was a matter of both law and morality. In his capacity as U.S. Attorney General, RFK helped to initiate national legislation and action that would help to ensure civil rights for black Americans. Specifically, he firmly believed in the right to vote and its positive effect on black political participation and influence in America. But beyond his politics and his legal advocacy, Robert F. Kennedy had a fervor and desire for true equality, displayed in his belief that “Americans…[should be] bound together by a common concern for each other.”
In this lesson plan, we explore Robert F. Kennedy’s legacy of ensuring racial equality. As we build a bridge between the past and the present and reflect on the work of the advocates of then and now, we should keep one question in mind: what do we do next?
GETTING FROM THEN TO NOW:
A BRIEF HISTORY OF CIVIL RIGHTS AND POLITICAL PARTICIPATION
BECOME A DEFENDER
The activities listed below are suggestions for how students can become human rights Defenders in their classroom and beyond.
Research ways you can get involved with politics in your community
Plan and run a campaign that encourages people in your community to vote
Reach out to local politicians and share your concerns with them