Civil Rights: A Global Perspective

Grade 9–12

Inspire Tomorrow's Leaders

Across generations and borders, leaders have stepped forward to empower change and inspire others to work toward a better collective future. Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders. Help them recognize their capacity and responsibility to stand up for what they believe in.

Civil Rights: A Global Perspective empowers students to examine and embody the non-violent social justice principles of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other influential human rights activists from around the world. This digital curriculum can be implemented in a variety of instructional settings to help students build an understanding of the global struggle for civil rights while learning how they can make a difference.

Curriculum Design

Curriculum Design


In this unit, students explore what freedom has meant to generations of activists and identify common patterns in those meanings. In doing so, they will build deeper appreciation for the interconnected nature of humanity and their own ability to empower change.

Investigation 2

How has the digital age changed the fight for universal rights?

In this investigation, students consider how today’s digital revolution may have impacted civil rights movements of the past. Activities include journaling, guided discussions, and a Socratic Seminar exercise.

Investigation 7

What does “global freedom” mean?

In this investigation, students explore the concept of global freedom by studying the Magna Carta–widely recognized as a foundational document for human rights–and drawing parallels between the freedoms it established and those that Dr. King and other civil rights leaders have worked to protect in more recent years.


This unit examines the role of perseverance in a variety of historical and contemporary contexts to help students understand that progress toward expanding human rights only occurs through constant and undaunted effort.

Investigation 3

What do you know about Rosa Parks?

In this investigation, students study a renowned example of perseverance: Rosa Parks. Engaging videos and readings explore her life, work, and lasting influence. Activities include journaling and guided reflection exercises.

Investigation 6

How does violence impact your community?

In this investigation, students learn about Gandhi's famous, nonviolent 1930 Salt Protest, during which he walked 240 miles at the age of 60. Activities include guided discussions, current events research, and journaling.


Historically, human rights movements have not survived without perseverance. They have not begun at all without hope. In this unit, students will consider how hope has emerged and survived under circumstances that seem unlikely to generate such optimism.

Investigation 1

How do you define “hope?”

In this investigation, students study the role of hope in different civil rights contexts, using the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and North Korean totalitarianism as launching points for exploration. Activities include journaling, readings, discussion questions, and guided reflection.

Investigation 12

How do you define “spiritual?”

In this investigation, students consider the power of spiritualism as an instrument of hope. Along the way, they learn about music in the underground railroad, the Fisk University Jubilee Singers, and protests for women’s rights in the Middle East.


In this unit, students consider forms of justice ranging from reconciliation to restoration and incarceration. Through discussion, they will diversify their understanding of the term and think about how it might apply in their own lives or the causes they seek to support.

Investigation 2

How do “retributive justice” and “restorative justice” differ?

In this investigation, students study restorative justice in relation to other forms of justice. Along the way, they consider how restorative justice aligns with the values of Dr. King and Gandhi and imagine how they can apply it in their own lives.

Investigation 7

What do you know about North Korea?

In this investigation, students revisit the article “Freeing Minds One Nose Drive at a Time,” which they first studied as part of the Hope unit. This time, they will consider it through the lens of justice. Along the way, they will compare and contrast North Korea with apartheid South Africa and learn about human trafficking.


In this unit, students examine how human rights activists (both historical and contemporary) have sacrificed their popularity, prosperity, health, and sometimes even their lives to do what’s right. By studying these remarkable cases, students can begin to consider what it means to be a person of conscience and think about which causes might inspire them to take informed action.

Investigation 1

How do you define “conscience?”

In this investigation, students explore what it means to be a person of conscience by reading Dr. Martin Luther King’s oral and written statements opposing the Vietnam War. Activities include research into contemporary human rights news, guided reflection, and discussion questions.

Investigation 9

What do you know about Malala Yousafzai?

In this investigation, students learn about the story of Malala Yousafzai, a contemporary narrative of conscience that saw a young woman fighting for what she believed was right at great risk and great cost. Activities include guided discussions, journaling, and a jigsaw reading.

Student Experience

Teaching the Past, Exploring the Present, and Building the Future

Civil Rights: A Global Perspective exposes students to wide-ranging human rights issues of the past and present while equipping them to communicate, negotiate, and advocate for important causes much like the figures they study. Activities throughout the program encourage cooperation, respectful debates, diversity of opinion, and persuasive argumentation while pushing students to imagine and strive toward a better future.

Socratic Seminars

provide students with the opportunity to discuss a reading or topic in purposeful, directed ways.

Silent Debates

make abstract thinking visible, challenging students to respond to the prompt and each other by recording their thoughts on big sheets of paper.

Reflect Activities

ask students to re-examine their own world and relate personal experiences to topics they are studying.

Bell Ringers

jumpstart lessons by engaging students in active learning with activities that introduce new concepts or sources.

Portfolio Project

As students begin the program, they each select a human rights topic of interest. Throughout subsequent units, they will complete projects on this topic and ultimately create a website storyboard to raise awareness for their cause. Projects include:

  • Topic Proposals
  • Empathy Maps
  • Interviews
  • Dream Speeches
  • Web Storyboard Presentations

Endorsed by Ambassador Andrew Young

Hear from Ambassador Andrew Young, a key Civil Rights leader and confidant of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., about the important work accomplished by Civil Rights: A Global Program.

The Ambassador Andrew Young HBCU National Scholarship Program

McGraw Hill is delighted to have made an investment in the Andrew Young HBCU National Scholarship Program, honoring students who share the unifying, non-violent principles of Dr. King and Ambassador Young.

High School students who have completed Civil Rights: A Global Perspective and are interested in attending an HBCU may submit applications beginning in February of their senior year.

To Learn more, visit 2023-2024 TMCF | Andrew Young Scholarship .