In collaboration with Facing History and Ourselves, the Democratic Knowledge Project developed a unit about youth civic agency that focuses on two cases of student activism: the 1963 Chicago Public Schools Boycott and the movement against gun violence launched by Parkland high school students in 2018. The two cases differ in terms of social and historical context, organization and strategy, and the consequences faced by student participants. Parkland students’ activism greatly benefited from the use of social media, marking a new high point for young people’s civic-political participation in the digital age. The Chicago school boycott, relatively less well known and of a different time, also reveals critical elements of young people’s civic-political participation. Both cases offer students the opportunity to reflect on and gain insight into their own civic participation in the world today. When examining each, we can ask, for example: What did the students want to achieve? What were the risks? Was it worth it? What counts as success? And what can we learn from their example?
Five lessons are structured along the past, present, and future arc. Click on the images below to access the lessons.