Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Power to the People

The Civil Rights Movement and The Black Panther Party

Mariana DeLoera, Teresa Lansford | Published: November 4th, 2022 by K20 Center


This lesson examines the role of organizations such as the Black Panther Party in advocating for social justice during the Civil Rights Movement. Using texts, images, and the Black Panther Party's Ten Point Program, students learn how the Black Panther Party fought against social injustices. By the end of the lesson, students will identify what social justice is and how the Black Panther Party advocated for it.

Essential Question(s)

Does society treat everyone fairly or justly? How have people historically advocated for social justice?



Students engage in a discussion about equality.


Students analyze a set of photos from the Black Panther movement and record their observations.


Students read about the rise of the Black Panther Party and complete a 3-2-1 handout in small groups.


Students create a Five Point Program for issues they wish to address in society and participate in a gallery walk.


Reflecting on their learning, students complete an Exit Ticket.


  • Pencils/Pens

  • Paper

  • Highlighters (two different colors per student)

  • Classroom audiovisual equipment

  • 3-2-1 handout (one per student; attached)

  • 3-2-1 Example Response (attached; optional)

  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Panther Programs Picture Set (one per group of students; attached)

  • Panther Programs Picture Set Teacher Key (attached; optional)

  • Panther Programs Responses (one per student; attached)

  • Rise of the Black Panther Party reading (one per student; attached)

  • Rise of the Black Panther Party Why-Lighting Sample (attached; optional)

  • Sample Five Point Program (attached; optional)


10 Minute(s)

Show slides 2-4 from the attached Lesson Slides to share the lesson’s title, essential questions, and lesson objectives.

Show slide 5 to initiate a discussion with the question “Do you believe society treats everyone fairly or justly?”  

Have students turn to an Elbow Partner and discuss the question. After they have had time to talk, ask them to share their responses and provide evidence for their answer. 

Show slide 6. After students have shared their responses, present the next question  “Can you think of examples of how members of society were treated unfairly during the Civil Rights era or before?”

Ask them to turn again to their Elbow Partners and explore this question.  

Take some time to let students share out their responses.


25 Minute(s)

Once students have given examples, move into talking about how individuals from the past fought to address issues mentioned (here you can specifically insert some examples from their discussion).

Explain to students that during the Civil Rights Era many leaders and organizations called for equal rights for African Americans in America. Introduce the organization that is the focus of the lesson — the Black Panther Party. 

Organize students into small groups of 2-3 and pass out the Panther Programs Picture Set packet (this can be used as a class set) and the Panther Programs Responses handout.

All of the images are either from programs the Black Panthers created, rallies they supported, or ideas they believed in. Explain the following steps to engage with the photographs:

  1. Assign students to examine the images in their packets.

  2. Ask them to hypothesize what they believe the Black Panthers were advocating for in each one.

  3. Explain that each picture set includes questions on the same page to guide their discussions.

  4. Ask them to complete the Panther Programs Responses handout to record their responses.

  5. See Panther Programs Picture Set Teacher Key for further reference on what to look for in student responses.

  6. While students are working in their groups, walk around to each group to answer any questions or help with the discussion.

After the groups have gone through each image and discussed the questions, take time as a class to go through each set of pictures, starting with slide 7 and progress through slide 10. Ask students to discuss their answers for each image set. 

Show slide 11. Once the class has discussed some of the social issues the Black Panther Party fought to address, ask them to consider the definition of social justice: Social justice means equal rights and equitable opportunities for all.”

Once students are familiar with the definition of social justice and have been introduced to some of the issues the Black Panther Party fought to address, tell them they will read about what led to the rise of the party and why advocating for social justice was important to them.


25 Minute(s)

Pass out a copy of the attached Rise of the Black Panther Party reading to each student and explain that the handout introduces the rise of the Black Panther Party during the Civil Rights Era and the Party’s Ten Point Program.

As they read the handout, instruct students to keep in mind the definition of social justice from earlier and remind them of how the Party advocated for it.

Organize students into groups of 2-3 students. Have them use a modified Categorical Highlighting. Instead of categories, students will be highlighting important parts in the reading that answer the questions “What led to the rise of the Black Panther Party?” and “How did they advocate for social justice in their communities?

Show slide 12. Explain the Categorical Highlighting strategy to students, and have them highlight answers for each question in different colors.

Once students have completed this activity, have a few students share their responses with the whole group. Then give each student a copy of the attached 3-2-1 handout.

Have students use the reading, including the Black Panther’s Ten Point Program, to fill out the 3-2-1 handout using a modified 3-2-1 strategy.

Assign them to identify three things from the Rise of the Black Panther Party handout that stood out to them the most and explain why they stood out.

After identifying the important information, have them identify two points from the Ten Point Program still relevant to issues today and explain why they chose them.

Once they have completed the first two tasks, have them list one example from the handout, including the Ten Point Program, that shows how the Party advocated for social justice.

Once students have completed the 3-2-1 handout, have a few of them share their responses.

Wrap up the conversation by referring back to the reading and stating how some issues like housing, education, and healthcare were important for the Black Panthers. Advocating for things like this led to the creation of the Ten Point Program.


30 Minute(s)

After students have completed and shared out their responses from the 3-2-1 handout, explain that they will be creating their own version of the Ten Point Program for local issues.

Have students individually draft their own Five Point Program for their community, job, or school and record it on their own paper. Remind them that their program should advocate for issues they wish to see addressed in their communities.

Refer students to the Rise of the Black Panther Party reading and look at the Black Panther Party’s Ten Point Program as a reference to frame their own program. Tell students that, in their points, they should explain why those points are important to advocate for. See the attached Sample Five Point Program for a sample student response.

Once students have created their Five Point Programs, have them post them around the classroom. Invite the class to participate in a Gallery Walk. Give each student a pad of sticky notes to write down 1-2 points that stand out to them from their classmates’ programs. Ask students to look for any similarities to their own programs, and have students walk around the room to look at their classmates’ programs.

After students have completed their Gallery Walk, bring the class back together and have students share which points they wrote down that stood out to them.


10 Minute(s)

Show slide 14. Revisit the definition of social justice definition and answer the questions on the slide (and below) as an Exit Ticket completion activity.

How does your Five Point Program help promote social justice in your community?

What is one point you saw on a classmate’s program that you believe helps promote social justice?

Have students respond on their own paper and turn it in to show their understanding of the content.