Responding to Charlottesville

Charlottesville has shaken the nation. As human rights educators, it is incumbent on us to address events like Charlottesville and especially their root causes within our classes. As Education Week Teacher Christina Torres wrote, it is essential for teachers to have honest conversations with students about racism and white supremacy.

“We must teach our students that the ‘history’ of these events is far from ‘past’ and ‘passed.’ The history our students face now is a very living thing that we must learn about in order to affect change for our future. As many of us prepare to return to our classrooms, we don’t just need to buy flowers and make bulletin boards. We need to prepare and read resources that help us make space in our classrooms to discuss these events. We need to ensure that we treat our students’ stories and the stories happening right now as a very real, living thing that our kids have the ability to change. They deserve that knowledge. They deserve that power.”

To help educators respond to the explicit hatred and violence experienced in Charlottesville and establish a safe and tolerant classroom for the coming year, HRE USA has developed the below collection of resources from our partner organizations.

For further resources, be sure to follow the twitter chat using the hashtag #CharlottesvilleCurriculum.


Confederate Monuments and Their Removal
Grade Level: 9-12
This lesson provides students an opportunity to learn more about Confederate monuments and the recent push to remove them. It encourages them to reflect on their own points of view about the issue while exploring others’ positions.

Helping Students Make Sense of News Stories About Bias and Injustice
Grade Level: All
Practical suggestions, strategies, and resources.

Swastikas and Other Hate Symbols
Grade Level: 9-12
This lesson provides asks students to reflect on the importance of symbols in our society, understand more about specific hate symbols, and identify strategies for responding to and eliminating hate symbols.


“The Alt-Right Curriculum: Teachers are facilitating conversations with students about white nationalism”
Grade Level: 9-12
An article and video describing a classroom lesson focusing on an articulate Alt-Rights leader and his views.


Values and Public Policy
Grade Level: 9-12
This lesson in the “Teaching with the News” series explores the role of values in civic life and political beliefs. Students are asked to explore values as a way to understand the views of others, find common ground where it exists, and work together to find ways to form policy.


Breaking Down Hate Speech
Grade Level: 9-12
This lesson offers strategies for creating a school community culture in which hate speech is unacceptable, both online and offline.


In 2016 the Council of Europe launched the No Hate Speech Movement campaign to mobilize young people for human rights online and to combat hate speech, one of the most worrying forms of racism and discrimination prevailing that is amplified by the Internet and social media.

WE CAN: Taking Action against Hate Speech through Counter and Alternative Narratives (2017)
This manual challenges and exposes the nature of hate speech: prejudicial views on social groups combined with fake news which feed phobias and fears, seem attractive as narratives. It examines how narratives give a meaning to information because they connect with what people believe, or want to believe in. Also available in French.

Bookmarks – A manual for combating hate speech online through human rights education (Revised edition, 2016)
Bookmarks addresses hate speech online from a human rights perspective, both inside and outside the formal education system. The manual is designed for working with learners aged 13 to 18 but the activities can be adapted to other age ranges. Also available in French.


After Charlottesville: Contested History and the Fight Against Bigotry
Grade Level: 7-12
Students consider the power of historical symbols as they investigate the 2015 controversy over the Confederate flag in South Carolina and then draw connections to the violence in Charlottesville.

My Part of the Story: Exploring Identity in the United States
Grade Level: 7-12
This new unit, “challenges students to define their own identity and their relationship to society as a whole. Seven lessons explore what America means to young people and how this country is the product of many individual voices; the concept of identity and the names, labels, and stereotypes that create it; and finally how students own agency create their identities.  Essential Question: What is the identity of the United States, and how do I fit into it?

Preparing Students for Difficult Conversations
Grade Level: 7-12
Originally prepared from a unit on “Facing Ferguson,” this lesson is equally applicable to Charlottesville. It lays the lay the foundation for a safe and reflective classroom where students feel they can speak honestly about these sensitive issues.

Webinar Resources for Teaching After Charlottesville
Grade Level: All
Online webinar that features resources, strategies, tips, and content to help teachers: organize the classroom space for safety, prepare your students for difficult conversations, provide context about the history of Nazi Germany and its ideology, and provide historical context on the legacy of slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction in the U.S.


The First Amendment: What’s Fair in a Free Country?
Grade Level: 9-12
This lesson demonstrates that freedom of speech is an ongoing process and that balancing rights and responsibilities is difficult, even for the Supreme Court.


These lessons from this well-known center for social justice education are especially relevant post-Charlottesville.

Students Fighting Racism
Grade Level: 3-5
Essential Question: Why is it important for me to stand up for others and myself?

Hate has no place in these halls; together we can change it.
Grade Level: 9-12
Essential Question: What is the difference between feeling proud and feeling superior?

Social Justice – Diversity
Grade Level: 9-12
Essential Question: How do we connect in meaningful ways with people who are different from us?

Social Justice
Grade Level: 9-12
Essential Question: What does it mean to say that there is strength in diversity?

Ten Ways to Fight Hate
Grade Level: All
A guide by the Southern Poverty law Center that sets out 10 principles for fighting hate in your community.

Understanding Myself and the World I Live in Now
Grade Level: 9-12
Essential Question: How do our intersecting identities shape our perspectives and the way we experience the world?

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