High School Unit I

Activity 1: Panel Discussion/Debate: Integration v. Segregation?

Students should begin by reading the Mass Moments essays about schools in Nantucket and Boston and the related primary sources (HS I-11,HS I-12,HS I-13). To learn more about the issues and the individuals involved in the struggle to desegregate public schools, have students research a real person or hypothetical character, using the resources at the end of the lesson. The class could then hold a panel discussion or debate set in 1843 on the topic of desegregating public schools in Nantucket and Boston.

Students can research and play the part of one of the following real people:

 [*featured on the Mass Moments website]

Students can also research and play the part of a:

  • Black parent who favors separate schools on Nantucket
  • White Quaker Nantucketer who opposes segregated schools
  • White Quaker Nantucketer who favors segregated schools
  • Reporter for the Nantucket Inquirer
  • Reporter for The Liberator
  • Black parent who favors separate schools in Boston
  • White parent who favors separate school in Boston
  • Moderator

After the discussion or debate, have students write essays explaining what they learned from this activity, what surprised them, and what questions they still have. Students who role-played reporters could present their essays as news reports or editorials.

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