Skip to Content

U Street Riots Two Part Lesson

1 Favorite 0 Copies
Social Studies Age Levels Primary (5 to 8 years old), Elementary (9 to 12 years old)

These six images give a glimpse of the damage done during the 1968 riots on U street following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.  The images are all attributed to Scurlock Studios, which students will study more in depth in a separate collection.  

The two day lesson centered around this collection begins with a gallery walk.  The Guiding Question for this lesson are:

-What can primary source photographs tell us about an event in history?

-How did the 1968 riots change Washington DC?


The Big Idea for this lesson is:

One event can have lasting effects on the history of a place.

 Each student will have a packet featuring  six 'See, Think, Wonder' pages, and a final page titled 'Gallery Walk Debrief.'  On Day 1, computers will be set up at six tables throughout the classroom, with all computers on a given table showing one of the six images in the collection.  At the teacher's direction, student partnerships will have 3-5 minutes to stop at each station and fill out one of the 'See, Think, Wonder' pages.  

At the conclusion of the gallery walk, student will meet with their partner for approximately 3 minutes to discuss the important question on the last page of their packet: 'Based on the images you viewed, how do you think the riots on U Street changed Washington DC?'  Once students have discussed, they will have approximately 5 minutes to write at least two sentences in response to this question.

On Day 2 of the lesson, the teacher will use a projectable screen in the class room  to walk through the interactive Washington Post article about the 1968 riots, allowing time to pause and watch each embedded video and answer any pressing questions.  

At the conclusion of the article, students will spend approximately 5 minutes at their tables discussing how their understanding of the 1968 riots has changed or expanded based on the Washington Post piece.  The teacher will then lead a discussion that should convey, at the very least, the following points:

-The U Street riots were widespread and caused major damage to areas of the city including but not limited to the U Street Corridor.  

-Many business' in DC were forever wiped out because of the riots and entire neighborhoods took, in some cases, decades to fully recover.

- Martin Luther King's death served as the final straw for many African Americans both in DC and around the country who had long been suffering under the crippling effects of segregation, discrimination, and racism.  

- Following the 1968 riots, most white people left the city.  

Following the teacher discussion, students will have approximately 5 minutes to write down an answer to the single question on the worksheet titled Washington Post Article Debrief:  After viewing the Washington Post article about the 1968 riots, what new information did you learn about how the 1968 riots changed Washington DC?

#LearnWithTR