Symbols of the Past

Symbols of the Past 

Overarching Question: How can the same symbols be interpreted to have different meanings? How is this especially important in black history?

The Confederate flag has caused controversy as Americans debate over what the flag truly represents.  Some argue that the flag is a symbol of Southern pride and heritage, while others see it as a symbol of hate, specifically toward the black community. This set of activities will probe students to think critically about the meaning of the flag and understand its connection to the challenges faced in black history.

Article: Virginia students suspended for wearing Confederate flag apparel

 Tip: Assign Instructions

Understanding the article: Comprehension Questions

 Middle and high school (grades 7, 9, 12)

  • What is the central disagreement in the article? Why is this disagreement relevant beyond Christianburg High School?
  • The author wrote that at Christianburg High School, 8 percent of students are black and 80 percent are white. Why did the author include these statistics, and what conclusions can you draw from them?
  • What do you think Chet Morley meant when he said that “Southern pride is just a little cover-up”?

Elementary school (grades 3 and 5)

  • Write a sentence explaining why students protested at Christianburg High School.
  • What does Chet Morley think about the Confederate flag? Why does he think this?
  • Write a question you still have about the Confederate flag that was not answered in the article.

 Tip: Shared Annotations

Classroom Activity: Debate

Students can engage in a debate after reading the article and looking at the additional resources included in the Primary Sources section.

Debate Question: Should schools ban the Confederate flag?

Guiding Questions:

  • What does the Confederate flag represent?
  • How is the flag similar to or different from other symbols that schools have already banned?

 Customized Write Prompt

Primary Sources

Guiding Questions:

"Our heroes and our flag" illustration from the Library of Congress What could be the roles of the men in the image? How do you know?

  • What language on this poster sheds a positive light on the flag?
  • How might someone interpret the meaning of the Confederate flag after seeing this poster from 1896?

“No Friendly Faces” as Little Rock’s Central High School integrates.  (Page 16)

  • Why is the location where this picture was taken (Little Rock, Arkansas) important?
  • In contrast to the heroes shown in the poster we just saw, how are the blacks not shown in this picture of Little Rock heroes?
  • How might someone interpret the meaning of the Confederate flag after seeing this image?

 Monitor student progress from these activities by viewing your Teacher Binder

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