Debate: Are Violent Protests Ever Justified?

“We need to remember that to be human means to be humane.” This is how one of my students ended her rebuttal following a statement by another student about Nat Turner’s use of violence to invite a slave rebellion. Today we ended our Civil Rights Unit with the following debate: Are Violent Protests Ever Justified? My students were so engaged that a two hour block flew by.

To prepare for this lesson we read background information about Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. They compared their philosophies in an assignment where we read an article titled What Would Malcolm X Think? written by his daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz. Then students read and annotated two additional articles: Five Reasons Violent Protesting is Not the Answer and When Rioting is the Answer. I had them number their top 3 arguments from each article and discuss them with a partner which seemed to help keep them focused on the main ideas.

Then each team picked a captain to be in charge of organizing their group for the debate. From each team: One person prepares an opening statement, there are three main presenters, three students prepare a rebuttal and one person provides a closing statement. Only sixteen students spoke each class, but all were engaged. (The rest of the students help provide hints and are required to write a written response to the essential question to receive credit– presenters are exempt.)

I structured the debate like this:

Team 1 = Arguing Yes, Team 2 = Arguing No

  1. Opening Statement – Team 1
  2. Opening Statement – Team 2
  3. Main Topic Presenter – Team 1
  4. Rebuttal – Team 2
  5. Main Topic Presenter – Team 1
  6. Rebuttal – Team 2
  7. Main Topic Presenter – Team 1
  8. Rebuttal – Team 2
  9. Main Topic Presenter – Team 2
  10. Rebuttal – Team 1
  11. Main Topic Presenter – Team 2
  12. Rebuttal – Team 1
  13. Main Topic Presenter – Team 2
  14. Rebuttal – Team 1
  15. Closing Statement – Team 2
  16. Closing Statement – Team 1


2 thoughts on “Debate: Are Violent Protests Ever Justified?

  1. Loved these type of classroom projects for my 6th and 8th graders. They’re not only intensily engaging for the students, but they find the value of the lesson/debate applies also today and to their own lives! Your setup and format was excellent Danielle. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s