Lesson Plan: Civil Rights Movement: Sit-Ins

Civil Rights Movement and Sit-Ins

Author Christopher Schmidt talks about the Greensboro, NC sit-in and how it inspired future demonstrations.


By the 1960s, the Civil Rights movement was growing in the U.S. Leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. employed non-violent methods of protesting. On February 1, 1960 students in Greenville, NC engaged in a new peaceful tactic, a sit-in. This launched a wave of sit-ins across the country. In this lesson, students will hear about the circumstances that unfolded that day and hits impact on the country.


  • Step 1:

    Post one sign that says “YES/AGREE” on one side of the room, one sign in the middle of the room that says MAYBE, and one sign that says “NO/DISAGREE” on the opposite side of the room before students enter the classroom.

    Post the following statement and ask students to stand next to the sign with which they agree:

    "Sit-ins are an effective form of protesting."

    Have students share their reasoning for their position.

    Distribute the document below so students may use it to take notes while viewing the videos in this lesson and engaging in class discussion.

    Handout: Civil Rights Movement: Sit-Ins (Google Doc)

    As a class, view the following video clips to provide background information on sit-ins.

    Video Clip 1: Civil Rights Movement and Sit-Ins (2:40)

    Author Christopher Schmidt talks about the Greensboro, NC sit-in and how it inspired future demonstrations.

    For additional context, students may view the following video clip:

    Greensboro, North Carolina Sit-Ins (6:16)

  • Step 2:

    Ask students to view the following videos. You can jigsaw this activity among the class. Students should identify key points in their video, present a summary and explain how their clip relates to the greater topic of sit-ins. Use the accompanying questions to guide class discussion in small groups and then as a whole.

    Video Clip 2: Civil Rights Sit-Ins: Students' Goals (4:49)

    Christopher Schmidt explains why students chose this form of action and the goals of the students.

    1. Why did students decide to take this form of direct action?

    2. Why did they choose lunch counters as their target?

    3. What were the students' goals?

    Video Clip 3: Civil Rights Sit-Ins: Legal Perspective (4:27)

    Christopher Schmidt talks about the sit-ins from a legal perspective including the constitutional issue involved.

    1. Explain the constitutional question involved with students taking this action.

    2. How did students respond to their legal circumstances?

    Video Clip 4: Civil Rights Sit-Ins and the Supreme Court (2:17)

    Christopher Schmidt describes the Supreme Court's view on the sit-in cases and the impact of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    1. Describe the effect the sit-in cases had on the Supreme Court in this era.

    2. Explain the impact the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • Step 3:

    Have students consider the statement from the beginning of class and write a brief paragraph explaining their position and whether or not it has changed.

  • Culminating Activity:

    Students should research one of the sit-ins during the Civil Rights Movement and select one of the culminating activities below to share their understanding of the significance of the demonstration.

    As a student who participated in the sit-in, write a journal entry describing your experience.

    Use Snapchat to create an image with details illustrating what occurred during your sit-in.

    As a journalist, write a newspaper article detailing the events that unfolded.

    Be a television reporter and use your phone to record your coverage of the events that are happening in the city.

Additional Resources


  • 14th Amendment
  • Aberration
  • Advocate
  • Allies
  • Appeal
  • Brown V Board Of Education
  • Civil Rights Act Of 1964
  • Complacent
  • Jim Crow Laws
  • Litigation
  • Lobby
  • Mobilization
  • National Association For The Advancement Of Colored People
  • Segregate
  • Tactic


Civil Rights & Civil LibertiesU.S. History


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