Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins
by Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue, Dial Books for Young Readers, 2005 (Grade Levels: 3-5)
Objectives: Students will explore how segregation affected everyday life and ways to respond to injustice and discrimination. This will lead into discussion of civil disobedience, non-violent demonstrations and the power of the written word.
Materials: Paper, pencils, crayons
Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins by Carole B. Weatherford
Merry-Go-Round” by Langston Hughes
“Martin’s Letter” from Remember the Bridge: Poems of a People by Carole B. Weatherford
- Define segregation and Jim Crow laws. Jim Crow laws legalized racial separation or segregation and prohibited social intermingling among blacks and whites. In many cities and states, segregation was the law from the late nineteenth century until the 1960s.
- From the website “Martin Luther King, Jr., NHS Jim Crow Laws,” <www.nps.gov/malu/documents/jim_crow_laws.htm> cite several laws that affected children: separate rooms or sections of restaurants and libraries, separate schools, theaters, lunch counters and public parks, and separate ticket offices and entrances to circuses and other shows. One North Carolina law stated, “Books shall not be interchangeable between the white and colored schools, but shall continue to be used by the race first using them.”
- Using an LCD projector or transparencies and an overhead projector, show a few images from the website “Photographs of Signs Enforcing Discrimination” <http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/list/085_disc.html>.
- Read aloud the poems “Merry-Go-Round” and “Martin’s Letter” (a reference to King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” – see excerpt below — which explained why blacks would continue to protest injustices, rather than simply wait for change to come).
- Read aloud Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins.
- Read aloud these questions for class discussion.
- How did Connie feel about the whites-only lunch counter?
- Why wouldn’t Aunt Gertie use the colored-only drinking fountain?
- How did (different characters) feel about the sit-ins?
- Why did Connie want her sister to carry the flag?
- Should Sister have joined the sit-ins and risked arrest?
- Write a slogan and create a sign that a protester could have carried on the picket line during the sit-ins.
- Ask students to imagine that they are Sister or Brother. Write a letter to Connie. Tell why you joined the sit-ins, what it was like at the lunch counter and on the picket line, why you risked arrest, and why you must continue to protest.
- Ask students to imagine that they are Connie, the store manager or a waitress. From that character’s point of view, write a sit-in diary.
- Mama told Connie, “Some rules need to be broken.” Write a speech or a letter to the editor arguing that a particular rule is unfair.
- Explain to students that Freedom on the Menu is historical fiction. The characters of Connie and her family are fictional. So is the lady who registers to vote. But the rest of the story is true; the events really occurred. Read aloud the author’s note at the end of the book. As a class, retell the story using only the factual portions. Then, ask students to imagine they are journalists or reporters. Write a newspaper article or a radio or television script about the sit-ins.
- Explain process analysis writing. Have students write their own sundae recipes. Each sundae should contain from five to ten ingredients. Compile the recipes in a sundae cookbook. The cookbook may be sold as a fundraiser for a school project or a local cause (perhaps even the classroom library). Take orders and then publish only enough cookbooks to meet the demand.
Text and audio at King Center website
Timeline, photos, newspaper stories, and audio clips of eyewitnesses
Film documentary about the sit-ins