In September 1957, more than three years after Brown v. Board of Education, the Arkansas National Guard and enraged white parents stood outside Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., to protest the admittance of nine black students.
Fifty years later, to what degree have race relations in schools changed? The Southern Poverty Law Center’s lesson plan “Boundary Crossing” encourages teachers to engage students in discussing this issue in light of the anniversary of this notorious event.
The program has two activites, one for elementary students and one for older students. The younger kids make and exchange differently colored butterflies and then discuss their feelings on interacting with the various colors. Older students draw a map of the school lunchroom, identify where different races usually sit, then venture out of their ‘comfort zones’ and note their movements on the map.
This curriculum comprises part of the SPLC’s annual Mix It Up At Lunch Day, which is scheduled for Nov. 13, 2007. For this event, the SPLC collaborates with schools nationwide to motivate students for one day to sit somewhere else in the cafeteria in an effort to meet people with whom they would otherwise not interact.