BELOIT—Everyone’s invited to an interactive program on civil rights.
The Beloit League of Women Voters, the Beloit Public Library and NAACP- Beloit Branch, present another Harvard Case Study at the library on Saturday, March 13. The program will be in person (only 15 allowed) or virtually from 10—11:30 a.m. Those who would like to attend need to make reservations in advance on the library’s website at https://beloitlibrary.org.
Matt Flynn and James Hoey from Beloit Memorial High School, and Frank Crivello, a retired teacher from Clinton Community School District, will demonstrate the methodology they learned at Harvard Business School to teach about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the struggle for black voting rights.
The presentation will go over the long history of black disenfranchisement and racial segregation in the United States, from the Reconstruction Era to the 1960s. It describes the various strategies employed by civil rights activists, with special emphasis on the civil disobedience protests of the modern Civil Rights Movement.
Those who elect to attend the “class” will be sent information about the case study so they will be able to prepare prior to the instruction. Those who attend will engage in debate to draw out the key concepts of each case.
The presentation will include discussion on Jim Crow laws, Brown v. Board of Education, literacy tests used for voting, the founding of the NAACP, the role of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Freedom Rides, the Children’s March, The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and more. There will also be mention of protests leading up to the assassination of King, according to Deb Fallon, membership chair of the Beloit League of Women Voters.
Fallon said readings will be sent out ahead of time so people can prepare for questions.
“The idea for the students is to resolve a critical choice facing a political leader or reformer,” Fallon said. “They are historically rich narratives. They want the students to come up with answers, and, of course, the instructor has these carefully-designed questions.”
The three teachers presented the “class” on “Democracy and Women’s Rights in America: The Fight over the ERA” in October, which Fallon said went over well thanks to their interactive teaching style.
Crivello, Flynn and Hoey were awarded an all-expense trip to Boston in August of 2019 through the Harvard Business School after writing an essay and doing a phone interview.
The workshop was part of the Harvard Case Method Project of Teaching History, with the goal of making history come alive for students. The workshop taught educators how to use real case studies of incidents in history to engage students and produce an increased interest in voting, political engagement and constructive debate. Although the case students were first used in the business school, educators are using them more in liberal arts education as well.
“Similar to the Equal Rights Amendment case the three of us taught in October, we will examine a relevant historical issue, in this case, Civil Rights, and teach a lesson using the Harvard Case study method that we learned in 2019,” Flynn said.
Flynn said the first case was attended by roughly 30 people either live or via Zoom and garnered a lot of interest.
“Part of the program that we participated in at Harvard included a community civic engagement piece which is fulfilled by partnering with the League of Women voters to bring the Case Method project to Beloit,” Flynn said.