Timeline of Change
Topics in Modern America (TMA) students spent December tracing the timeline of the Civil Rights Movement and creating posters in the style of a newspaper front page that take a deep dive into the impact one event had on the overall movement. Examining these posters, now on display in the Upper School Hallway, is a gallery walk through the luminaries and unsung heroes who contributed to the cultural momentum for change in the 1950s and 60s.
The timelines start with the Supreme Court ruling on Brown vs. the Board of Education in 1954, progressing through seminal events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the March on Washington, Bloody Sunday, and ending with Dr. Martin Luther King’s Assassination in 1968. Each student was assigned a single event to research. Their poster had to include background on the event, an explanation of what happened, and its historical significance in the larger Civil Rights Movement. Photographs related to the event, a map of where it took place, and quotes from the individuals involved were also required. All of this had to be presented in a thoughtfully designed and logical format so that readers could easily digest the impact and relevance of each event. In addition, History Department Chair and TMA Teacher John Beloff asked students to include a song, poem, or painting connected to their event in recognition of the reverberations that these events had across the culture.
As part of the editing process, TMA students presented their posters to their class, explaining what happened in their event, what led up to it, and its impact on the Civil Rights Movement. This was an opportunity to correct minor errors or points of confusion in the presentation that presenters could incorporate into the final draft of their poster. At the same time, other students could ask clarifying questions. Each student shared the pop culture connection to their event during their presentation. In explaining the impact of the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court Decision, Alisa K. ‘22 shared Jacob Lawrence’s 1962 painting “Soldiers and Students,” which depicts the confrontation between the frightened but determined students and the soldiers deployed to block their entrance to the school. Alisa pointed to the importance of the perspective in this work, noting that “Lawrence puts the viewer on the side of the students encouraging us to identify with their frustrations and fear.”
This display gives the Upper School community a chance to consider both the impact of these events and the influential role that individuals and their collective will had in advancing the causes of social justice and racial equality during this turbulent time in U.S. History.