At the heart of our work is the promotion of practical knowledge about the Freedom of Assembly. The Article 20 Network's free public resources and original content are written for audiences critical to the development of a healthy public forum. Resources are based on research into environments conducive to safe, peaceful, and effective assemblies and written and guided by experts from the intended audience.

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FOR Organizers and Activists

Nonviolence Commitment Card

FOR TEACHERS

HIGH SCHOOL SOCIAL STUDIES UNITS

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NONVIOLENCE COMMITMENT CARD

This pledge to nonviolence is a re-creation and revision of the 1963 Birmingham Campaign “Commitment Card,” a pledge form that campaign volunteers were required to sign before they could participate in the nonviolent movement to end racial segregation in Birmingham, Alabama.

Spearheaded by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) – under the leadership of both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Fred Shuttlesworth – the Birmingham Campaign was a pivotal event in the southern United States civil rights movement of the 1960s. Volunteers’ willingness to suffer violence – without retaliating in kind – as they confronted through nonviolent direct action the segregationist political, economic, and social structure of Birmingham, Alabama, enabled SCLC and ACMHR to win concessions from Birmingham leadership that proved to be the death knell for de jure racial segregation in both Birmingham and in the South generally. The campaign helped set the stage for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, two of the most important pieces of civil rights legislation that this nation has adopted to protect and guarantee the rights of African Americans.

Like the original commitment card, this pledge is a declaration that nonviolence is ultimately a way of life that constitutes a loving refusal to cooperate with violence and injustice wherever they manifest, including in our own minds, in our own homes, and in our own communities. It is a promise to transform our world by transforming ourselves through daily practices of nonviolence. And like the commitments in the original card, the promises contained in this pledge are intended to serve as the guiding principles for, and underlying logic of, specific political campaigns, political organizing, and strategic, nonviolent direct actions.

This pledge was adapted by the Article 20 Network's Nonviolence Adviser, Alycee Lane, whose book, Nonviolence Now! (Lantern Books), further explores the Birmingham Campaign's "Commitment Card".

HIGH SCHOOL SOCIAL STUDIES UNITS

High school students don’t learn much about the forgotten freedom of peaceful assembly in social studies. These 10-day units help incorporate a discussion of the First Amendment freedom to peaceably assemble into your high school US History and World History classes. What is assembly? How have peaceful assemblies influenced the course of history? Students will explore these questions and more.

Daily lessons invite conversation about the concept of assembly, its history and limits placed on public demonstrations. Each lesson contextualizes topics to historical events in your curriculum. In addition to using entire units, it is also possible to break them up into stand-alone lessons.

Easily reproducible for the classroom, these standards-aligned lessons are deeply interactive and keep students engaged and thinking every step of the way. Culminating class projects encourage students to explore public demonstrations in current events. 

Each lesson is broken down into an anticipatory set, class activities and a closure. Differentiation ideas and suggestions for technology infusion are offered when appropriate. Primary and secondary sources, media links and handouts are all included. 

Download your high school social studies units now.

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