Archival video of the Bay of Pigs invasion and the reaction among countries is shown.
On April 17, 1961, a force of more than 1,400 CIA-trained Cuban exiles launched an invasion at the Bay of Pigs on the southern coast of Cuba. Called Brigade 2506, their goal was the overthrow of communist leader Fidel Castro, who had taken power only two years earlier in the Cuban Revolution. The invasion disintegrated in a matter of days, with 118 killed and more than 1,100 captured. The fiasco cast a pall over President John F. Kennedy’s three-month-old administration and set the stage a year later for the nuclear showdown with the Soviet Union known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. In this lesson, students will view videos to learn about this event and hear from two eyewitnesses who participated.
This lesson offers several options for you to use with your students whether you are teaching in class, using a hybrid model, or engaging through distance learning. It can be completed in steps as a class or students can move at their own pace and complete the activities independently.
You can post links to the videos in the lesson along with the related handouts and engage in discussion to share responses on a discussion board or learning management system.
You can also save and share the following Google resources for students to use with this lesson.
Vocabulary Chart: Bay of Pigs Invasion (Google Doc)
Note-Taking Chart: Bay of Pigs Invasion (Google Doc)
Handout with Guiding Questions: Bay of Pigs (Google Doc)
In Google, choose "File" then "Make a Copy" to get your own copy. You can make any needed adjustments in the instructions such as which activities students need to complete, when it is due, etc. and then make it available to them via Google.
View the following clip that shows archival video of the Bay of Pigs invasion and have students share their observations and reactions to provide a foundation for this lesson.
Video Clip 1: Bay of Pigs Invasion Archival Newsreel (2:11)
Ask students to view the following video clip, then engage in class discussion using the accompanying guiding questions to provide perspective on the U.S. approach to Fidel Castro and Cuba.
Video Clip 2: 1960 Presidential Debate: Kennedy-Nixon Positions Regarding Cuba (5:13)
This excerpt from the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon presidential debate, reflects the position of each candidate on the issue of Cuba. Former CIA historian Nicholas Dujmovic explains the impact this issue had on national policy.
Explain the position of each candidate on Cuba.
How did this issue impact the election?
Have students view the clip below and respond to the related questions. Discuss their responses to establish background before they move on to the exploration.
Video Clip 3: Bay of Pigs Invasion Overview (2:36)
Former CIA historian Nicholas Dujmovic talks about the goal of the Bay of Pigs invasion on the part of the U.S. and provides an overview of how events unfolded that day.
What was the goal of the Bay of Pigs invasion?
Describe the process of the planned invasion.
Explain what happened on April 17, 1961.
Have students view the following video clips. They can choose to watch each independently, with a partner or group, and prepare responses to the questions.
Video Clip 4: Bay of Pigs Invasion (4:44)
Former CIA historian Nicholas Dujmovic discusses the planning of the Bay of Pigs invasion and what went wrong when it was executed.
Video Clip 5: Was the Bay of Pigs Invasion a Secret? (1:26)
Former CIA historian Nicholas Dujmovic talks about who had knowledge of the plan.
Video Clip 6: Who Were the Exiles in the Bay of Pigs Invasion? (1:29)
Former CIA historian Nicholas Dujmovic talks about the exiles who participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion.
Why did people leave Cuba and where did they go?
Video Clip 7: Reasons for U.S. Participation in the Bay of Pigs (2:35)
Former CIA historian Nicholas Dujmovic discusses some reasons the U.S. engaged in the Bay of Pigs invasion.
Video Clip 8: Jose Basulto, Cuban Exile and Bay of Pigs Veteran (1:28)
Jose Basulto talks about his involvement with the Bay of Pigs.
Video Clip 9: Alfredo Duran: Bay of Pigs Participant (10:56)
Alfredo Duran, a Cuban exile who participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion, shares his experiences.
Video Clip 10: Pres. Kennedy Address on Bay of Pigs (1:24)
A portion of Pres. Kennedy's Address to the American Society of Newspaper Editors on April 20, 1961, following the Bay of Pigs Invasion is shown.
View the following video clip and discuss the related questions as a class.
Video Clip 11: US-Soviet Relationship Following Bay of Pigs (2:57)
Former CIA historian Nicholas Dujmovic discusses the consequences of the Bay of Pigs on the U.S.-Soviet Union relationship and the legacy of this event.
What were the consequences of the Bay of Pigs invasion?
Have students select a culminating activity to share their understanding of the Bay of Pigs invasion. They should include information from their notes on the various perspectives they heard in the videos.
Be a Journalist! Write a newspaper article detailing the events that unfolded.
You're an Eyewitness! Choose from one of the perspective's you learned about in this lesson (the U.S., Cuba or an Exile) and write an entry describing your experience.
How did this event impact future relationships among the U.S., the Soviet Union and Cuba? Have students research developments following the Bay of Pigs invasion and share their findings in a paper or presentation. Below are examples of links students can access for additional information: