Lesson Plans

1950 to Present

Integration of Montgomery County Public Schools
Author: Ty Healey
School: Walter Johnson High
Grade Level: 9th
Time Estimated: 2-3 Days

Enduring Understanding

Following the Supreme Court decisions on Brown v. Board of Education public facilities were to integrate with "all deliberate speed." The reaction by state and local governments varied greatly as they had to decide the logistics and timetable of carrying out -- or in extreme cases ignoring -- the decision. In Montgomery County the school system, local government, and community members were involved in shaping the decisions. By looking at documents from the time period it is clear that a variety of factors and opinions shaped the debate, decisions, and individual reflections on the process.


Students will be able to analyze the conditions, questions, and decisions surrounding integration in Montgomery County.

Students will be able to complete a document based question on the process of integration in Montgomery County.


Unit 9.6: "The Struggle for Power in Post War America"
Lesson 2.1: "Through the Legal System"



Day 1

  1. Set: Give students one of three short scenarios and have them answer the questions.
    1. Scenario I: A 21-year-old graduate of Amherst College applies to the University of Maryland Law School and is rejected despite strong qualifications. What could explain this? What would you advise him to do?
    2. Scenario II: A Rockville area elementary school teacher is being paid less than half the amount his colleagues at other schools make. What could explain this? What would you recommend he do about it?
    3. Scenario III: An 18-year-old girl nervously enters the gates of Glen Echo Amusement Park. As she climbs on to the spotted yellow horse on the merry-go-round her heart beats quickly. Why do you think she respond this way? What would you tell her if you were her friend?
  2. Give students a minute to consider each scenario and then have them share their scenarios and responses with the class.
  3. Ask students what additional information would help them to answer the questions for each scenario.
  4. Tell the students that each of theses people are real as are the events described. Ask students to guess when these events took place.
    1. Scenario I: 1935
    2. Scenario II: 1936
    3. Scenario: 1960
  5. Show the students the names and pictures of each and ask them again to answer the questions (slide #1).
  6. Using this new information discuss answers to the questions in each scenario and tell the students the stories of the three individuals (Appendix A). The point is to highlight the local connection of the three people as a way of introducing the status of segregation/integration in area as well as set the stage for examining how facilities (schools in particular) were integrated.
    • Because this lesson supplements 9.6 lesson sequence two, point out the dates of the events described and compare that to the events in the timeline from the curriculum.
  7. Transition to document use/analysis: Keeping in mind these examples tell students you will now look at an event that took place in Rockville in the context of the Civil Rights Movement. Again, this is a case where students might have learned about the student sit ins in North Carolina or boycotts in Montgomery, Alabama but know little about local events.
  8. Show the flier (Appendix B) and ask students to answer the questions about the protest of the HiBoy Restaurant in Rockville in 1959 have students analyze issues surrounding equality and integration. If time is an issue the last couple questions could be homework. The flier and additional background on the protest can be found at: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/Content/Libraries/lpark/civilrights.asp

Day 2-4

  1. Use the curriculum resources to teach Brown v. Board of Education. After the description of the Southern Manifesto it begs the question what was the local response. While Maryland officials were not signatories of the Southern Manifesto it is clear from the previous day that Montgomery County was a segregated society.
  2. Use this opportunity to introduce the skill of writing a document-based question.
    1. Prompt: Using the documents provided explain the integration of Montgomery County Public Schools in terms of the pace of the process and the reaction to integration. What factors help explain why events unfolded as they did?
  3. Due to the challenging nature of this task it might help students if one or two documents are analyzed as a whole class. Then additional documents could be analyzed in groups -- either with groups getting all of the documents and working through them or by each group getting one or two and then as the groups share their analysis an argument can be formed as a whole class.
  4. Assuming that class time will be given to analyze the documents and then debrief this will conclude day 2. Day 3 students can group the documents and work on a thesis. Again, depending on the class it might help to demonstrate grouping documents, coming up with a title, and composing a thesis.
  5. After looking at the documents then students need to consider the documents' relationship to each other. Below is a suggestion for possible groups with each group addressing an aspect of the prompt as noted.
  6. Documents by Topic:

    Reaction to Brown decision and recommended pace of integration
    1. Memo from President of the Montgomery County PTA Council re: Recommendations of the Montgomery County PTA Council Committee on Integration
    2. Newspaper article, "3,000 Sign Petition Backing 'Gradualism'"
    Reaction to integration and pace
    1. Photo of students going to busses after the first day of integrated classes at Poolesville High School, 1956.
    2. Photo of protest by Poolesville community members, 1956.
    3. Sentinel article titled: "First Year of Integration Was Generally Successful." June 21, 1956
    4. Letter to the editor, Sentinel, "Take Us To Task" June 1958
    Possible explanation for regional reaction
    1. Executive Order 9981 -- President Truman integrates the Armed Forces, 1948
    2. Map showing the density of government workers in Montgomery County in 1960 -- note that areas of greater government workers coincided with more integration also that the up-county region (which includes Poolesville) has fewer government workers and was the location of a protest.
    3. Data about population changes in Montgomery County -- rapid population increase in the region, are those moving to the area more tolerant/accepting of the idea of integration.
  7. Once the groups have been established it helps to come up with a title for each group. This will provide the basis of a thesis as it indicates some aspect of the pace of integration or the factors that influenced the process.
  8. After grouping and labeling, students should be able to formulate an argument about the prompt. Remind them that it is okay if this takes a few sentences to explain.


Depending on how class time is used and the skills of the students, parts of this process could be given as homework.


In addition to the notes in the process section about what to model for students, the lesson could be differentiated by altering the number of documents used and/or simplifying the prompt so that fewer topics are included.


Content and skills will be assessed through the DBQ activity as well as whole-class discussion of the events.

References: Web

Montgomery County Public Schools. "What's in a Name: The New William B. Gibbs, Jr. Elementary School. "MCPS QuickNotes. Vol. 4, No. 10. June 2009.http://connectedcommunities.us/showthread.php?p=28222
MCPS Quicknotes Newsletter with brief description of William B. Gibbs.
Rockville Library. "Lincoln Park in the Civil Rights Era." Lincoln Park History Project. http://montgomerycountymd.gov/content/libraries/lpark/civilrights.asp
Montgomery County government site with descriptions of Gibbs v. Broome and the HiBoy sit-in in Rockville.
National Museum of American History. "With All Deliberate Speed." Separate is not Equal: Brown v. Board of Education. Smithsonian Institution. http://americanhistory.si.edu/Brown/history/6-legacy/deliberate-speed.html
Very good site containing images and cartoons related to Brown v. Board of Education. Includes photo of protest in Poolesville, Maryland.
President Harry S. Truman. "Executive Order 9981." Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. July 26, 1948. http://www.trumanlibrary.org/9981.htm
Copy of Truman's executive order integrating the armed forces.
"1960 Census Tract - % Government worker." Social Explorer. http://www.socialexplorer.com/pub/maps/map3.aspx?g=0&mapi=SE0005&themei=48446.0649605473.7476.957&l=1943587.60464995&r=2066937.83463851&t=5105014.02229106&b=5063432.44424764&rndi=1
Interesting data for Montgomery County that can be manipulated and displayed graphically. Source for employment distribution map.
Montgomery County Planning Department. "Population of Montgomery County Region, 1950 - 2000." MontgomeryPlanning.org. Data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census. http://montgomeryplanning.com/research/data_library/population/po1.shtm
Chart showing changes in greater-DC area population from 1950 – 2000.
Thurgood Marshall Law Library, University of Maryland. "Donald Gaines Murray and the Integration of the University Of Maryland School of Law." African Americans in the Law Collection. http://www.law.umaryland.edu/marshall/specialcollections/murray/
Biography of Donald Murray and his effort to integrate University of Maryland Law School.
Brigid Schulte. "Protest on a Sculpted Horse: Black activists stepped inside a segregated Maryland theme park -- and sparked a battle." The Washington Post. B01. June 29, 2004. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A13304-2004Jun28.html
Story of Gwendolyn Greene and the protests at Glen Echo Park.

References: Books & Media

MCHS Library, 111 W. Montgomery Ave., Rockville, MD 20850
All resources included in the document collection not referenced above came from the Jane C. Sween Library at the Montgomery County Historical Society. They have a well-organized collection of newspaper clippings from the Civil Rights era with a folder specifically about school integration.